When I was growing up I knew no one at my school that “came out” as gay. There was so much prejudice out there and being ”gay” was used as an insult so it would have been a very brave thing to do, to live openly as a young gay man. I know many parents weren’t as open minded as maybe they could be today. It was not accepted so readily and you would hear of family’s that outcast their sons or daughters for their sexuality and it was often seen in tv storylines too.
As parents, myself and my husband have always tried to talk openly to our kids about accepting people for who they are, whatever their sexuality, abilities, race etc…I hope this has helped our kids be open with us about themselves and situations they find themselves in and when my son was 15 he told me he was gay.
I’m gonna be honest, I was shocked. I didn’t expect it but my gut was worried for him. My experiences of how society treated anyone from the LGBTQ community made me anxious for the reaction he would get from others. I felt a fierce protectiveness of him.
Life though it seems has changed more than I thought since I was a teenager, many many moons ago! My son has the best friends, all of who love him for him. He is becoming more authentically himself each day and I am so proud of him for it! He attended his school prom with 4 of his girl friends, has great mates and now tutors, all of whom he can be openly himself with. Is he just lucky or is society changing?
I have told him how proud I am of him but it’s not cool as a mum to be expressing that kind of stuff to your teenage son (in his eyes anyway) so I show him my support in other ways such as attending London Pride together last year as a family. We all went and wow, it was a fantastic day. We dressed in our rainbow of colours, painted our faces and embraced the experience. We have plans to go again this year together – and I can’t wait!!
The recent news about Philip Schofield coming out as gay at age 57 after being married 27 years and having two children is an indication of how hard it has been in the past to speak openly about sexuality. No one really knows the ins and outs of Philips story but he has clearly struggled with his mental health due to the turmoil of not being able to express who he really is.
A survey commissioned by NHS Digital (published in 2018) into the mental health of children and young people in England showed that LGBT teens are much more likely to be struggling with their mental health. Among teenagers aged 14 to 19, those who aren’t heterosexual are more than 2.5 times as likely to have some kind of mental illness. So clearly there are still real struggles for young people who are LGBTQ over those who are heterosexual.
Today though we did something so simple together but that for me felt “big”. Me and my son and daughter went to the nail salon together and all had our nails done. A fun pampering afternoon for me and my kids but something that maybe isn’t the “norm” with your son. I hope for him it wasn’t a big deal but for a mum in her 40’s who has grown up seeing a lot of homophobic attitudes around her it was another step to showing my son in my way to embrace who he is completely.
Don’t get me wrong I know there are still prejudices out there but I can see a positive change in how my son is able to express himself and my hope is that is something that will only continue to improve and the statistics like those above for young adults and children who are not heterosexual begin to improve even more as there is more acceptance and support.
Love is love, right?