Coming out of the closet is a very personal process, and there are tons of small factors that influence when and how someone decides to have that conversation.
Nerves, hostile religious and political environments, and a sense of privacy are just a few of the ingredients that cause someone to conceal their sexuality all the way into adulthood. So, even when loved ones already 'know,' a loved one shouldn't be considered out until they choose to be.
However, in cases where a family member suspects their loved one is hiding their sexuality for fear of judgement, it can be hard to know what to do. Do you approach them head on to let them know you support them and risk outing them? Or do you wait it out, even if it feels suspenseful and needless?
Hello Reddit. Please bear with me regarding my formatting and things. I have read the rules and things, but I'm an old fart who is rather on the wrong side of 40 so I'm not overly well versed in the art of efficient internetting.
My boy is 20 years old. He's absolutely my pride and joy, and there is nothing he could do that would ever make me love him less. For the first half of his life, I regrettably wasn't involved very much.
His mother and I parted ways when he was just a few months old and at the time I was struggling with a heroin addiction and was absolutely not as present in his life as I should have been, nor was I suited to fatherhood at all. I saw him, at most, two to three times a year for the first 12 years of his life.
I won't discuss details because that's his private story to tell, but when he was 12 he revealed to me that he was being badly mistreated at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
Despite not being the best father at the time, I didn't want my boy suffering any more so I got myself cleaned up and sorted out in order to get full custody of him. I've effectively been a single (and sober!) father ever since and he has little to no contact with his mother.
He's everything a man could want his son to be; he's uniquely kind and fiercely loyal, he's unflinchingly brave, he's incredibly generous and, despite the horrors he suffered as a child, he's unfailingly positive and sunny to the last. Somehow I of all people was bestowed with the honour of watching him grow from a sweet young boy to the greatest man I have ever known. I cannot stress enough my pride in him.
OP has been over the moon proud of his son throughout the years, and they've kept in close touch during the recent college transition.
When he was 18, he got accepted into a top ranking university on the other side of the country. I was sad to see him go, but simultaneously overjoyed that he got into his first choice and was starting a new chapter in his life. He comes home once every other month, and on the month's he doesn't come home, I go to visit him.
He's doing well in uni, has made lots of friends and seems incredibly happy there, which I'm obviously chuffed about. Since his second year, he's lived with his 'friend' in a flat off-campus. I've strongly suspected since his early teens that my son is gay, and I now more or less have confirmation that this is true and that his 'friend' is actually his boyfriend.
Nearly two months back, when the COVID-19 pandemic started hitting hard, OP's son decided to leave his college housing in order to quarantine with his dad.
So, for this COVID-19 faff, my son decided he'd rather come home and quarantine at mine than stay at his uni flat. His 'friend', however, would be left alone if my son came back as he's a Canadian and his family are back over there, and I gather he doesn't have the best relationship with them anyway. He asked if it would be okay if 'friend' tagged along to my house and I said of course, no problem.
When OP's son asked if he could bring his close friend and roommate, OP was quick to oblige.
They've been back at mine for about six weeks now. They think they're being subtle I know, but I've caught them doing coupley things on several occasions now. The 'friend' has slipped up a couple of times and called my son 'babe' and 'sweetie' in front of me, which I pretended not to notice for the sake of saving embarrassment.
There have been nights where we'll be watching a film with the lights off and, thinking I can't see, my son will have his arm around the 'friend'.
OP has suspected his son was gay for nearly a decade, and thought his son's friend may be more than a friend, but left it alone because he wants his son to have space.
One day I walked into the lounge and I'm positive they'd just been kissing and were trying to cover it, though I admit I have no confirmation on that one. The most solid evidence, however, came a few mornings ago. I get up very early to go for runs in the morning (hence why I'm making a reddit post at five in the morning haha).
However, OP's suspicions have been fully confirmed after accidentally witnessing several couple moments, including the two in bed together (sleeping).
As far as I was told, my son was sleeping in his childhood room and his 'friend' was in the guest room. I don't know what possessed me to do so, but on Tuesday morning I cracked my son's door open to check on him like I used to when he was a kid.
Lo and behold, they're both asleep, snuggled up together, in my son's bed. That's more or less solidified for me that they're together. I didn't say anything, just shut the door and went for my run, and I haven't mentioned it to them yet.
Now, OP wants advice on how to best let them know that he knows and supports them, so they don't have to continue hiding their status as a couple in the apartment.
What I want advice on is this; how do I let my son and his boyfriend know that I'm okay with them being a couple and they don't have to feel like they have to sneak around in my house? I want them to be comfortable here and I want them to know I support them both no matter what.
Or is that not a good idea? Am I better off leaving it alone and waiting until they tell me themselves, if they ever do? I obviously don't want to force either of them out of the closet, but at the same time I hate feeling as if they feel like they're being forced into the closet in my house. What's my best course of action here??
OP also asked if it's best if he leaves it alone completely, and waits for his son and his boyfriend to share the news themselves.
TL:DR - my son and his 'friend' are staying with me for quarantine. It's abundantly clear they're a couple, and I want to let them know it's okay and they don't have to sneak around in my house. What's the best way to go about it?
You’re an awesome dad. I’m so glad you were able to clean up your life and become such an amazing father to your son. I hope he knows and sees that too. I’m a lesbian and I can totally relate to what your son is doing and feeling. I like the above advice in just referring to your son’s “friend” as his boyfriend. It’s casual and your tone will be the telltale sign in all of it.
You could also write a letter addressed to him if you wish. I think that would be really sweet and I would keep it forever if I were him. Thanks for being one of the good ones.
First congrats on cleaning your life up and being there for your son, keep being strong.
Most of the comments here are great and I think any of them would be fine. Just reassure your son its ok and that you'll love him no matter his sexuality. My friends dad left his son a sticky note for him to find that just said he loves him and approves of his boyfriend because hes such a gentleman lol.
I think reassurance is best, but I love everyone else's comments.
If you like his boyfriend (it sounds like you do!) then I'd say something like, 'I hope you know that boyfriend's name is always welcome in our family. It's clear he really cares about you, and having people like that in our lives is so important.' If you're feeling up to it add, 'I just want you to know that you two are more than welcome to share a bedroom here if you prefer.'
My mom sent me a text that said, “You never have to admit anything to me that you’re not comfortable with. But if Jasmine was ever more than a friend, I’d want to make sure she knew she was loved here too”.
I tried to post this before but it got removed as I hadn't waited 48 hours. Hopefully this time it works! Hello, lovely people. As promised I am back with an update for you on all what happened the other day. Here it is, if you missed it
Want to top this off with a big thank you to everyone who left such lovely, thoughtful comments. I honestly didn't expect so many people to see the post, I was thinking maybe an absolute maximum of 100 people and even that seemed like loads.
It was lovely to hear back from so many of you, and I'm forever grateful for the fantastic advice most of you gave. Also overjoyed by my new adopted reddit children haha you're all doing amazing and I'm very proud of all of you.
Also big thanks to all of the lovely people who sent me such sweet messages of support, and to those of you who reached out to me because you felt you needed someone to talk to. If anyone else feels that way and is in need of dadly advice, do feel free to give me a message and I will do my best to help out :)
Okay you all want me to shut up and tell you what happened haha. My son was busy with some assignments both for his freelancing job and his uni work most of the day and I didn't want to disturb him so I waited until after dinner to chat. 'Friend' went to have a bath while my son and I watched telly.
I tod him face to face 'Son, I love you very much. You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, but I want you and [friend] to feel comfortable being yourselves in my house and you don't ever need to hide anything from me, alright?'
Well, it turns out a hell of a lot of you were right. Son burst out laughing and said 'oh thank God, I reckoned you'd clicked on but didn't say anything because I didn't want to make you feel weird'.
Basically we've each been p*ssyfooting around the topic because neither one of us wanted to make the other uncomfortable talking about it. We had a bit of a chat and he confirmed that I'm right in thinking they've been together since their first year of uni and that's why they moved in together in second year.
When OP found out his son's boyfriend was rejected from his family after coming out of the closet, he made sure to let his son's boyfriend know he's welcome in the family.
However, apparently I'm not as brilliant and intuitive as I thought because apparently one of his friends in secondary school was his boyfriend for a year and I had absolutely no idea haha. He went and talked to the boyfriend after his bath, and then we all had a bit of a further chat.
Sadly a lot of you were right that the reason boyfriend doesn't have a good relationship with his parents is because he came out to them a few years ago and they effectively disowned him, so I made sure he knows that he's a part of our family now.
Sorry if that isn't all as exciting and groundbreaking as some of you had hoped haha! I'm glad this is something my boy no longer feels he has to keep from me and I'm very glad he's happy with his partner. Thank you all again for the help!
This is the most wholesome bookend to a very wholesome question, and the comments on the follow-up post were all in support.