Father blames mother for gay children
Q: I am a 42-year-old lesbian. I have three children – 16, 18 and 21, two girls and a boy. I have been divorced for 10 years and have tried to keep up a working relationship with my ex-husband. I have always thought it was better for the kids if divorced parents have a good relationship. I realized early on that even when you divorce, you and your ex still need to communicate because the children have things going on that need to get discussed between the parents. My ex-husband and I have had joint custody so there are many things we need to discuss. He is legally obligated to and has been paying child support for all three children because the two oldest are still in college and the youngest is still in high school.
The problem is that in the last two months, two of our children have come to us and told us that they are gay – one daughter and our son. My husband is beside himself. He feels it is my fault they are gay, and he has said as long as they choose this life style he won’t pay for their college or pay any child support. He has told them he doesn’t want anything to do with them until they “get their head on straight.” Up until now they have had a good relationship with their father. They told me that they will just take out student loans to get through college, and he can either accept them or not be their father anymore. They both feel this way. When I spoke to my husband about continuing on with his financial obligation and relationship with them, he says I talked them into being gay so now I can talk them out of it. He was not that upset when I came out to him before our divorce so I am surprised that he is this upset about his kids. How do I convince him that this is just who they are and that I have nothing to do with their being gay?
A: It is often harder for parents to accept their children being gay than accepting other folks being gay. Parents have an image and dreams for their children’s future, making it difficult for them when a child comes out; they need to paint a new picture for that child. This can cause a real sense of loss and the parent may need time to grieve. Also they may be worried about their child’s safety and happiness. (You have worked through much of this through the discovery of your own sexuality.) In your case, it may also tap into your husband’s loss of you as his wife due to your being gay, even if he has accepted it.
That being said, I would continue to talk with your husband about maintaining his financial obligation as well as his relationship with his children. The divorce decree, most likely, requires his paying child support, regardless of sexuality. Eventually, if he doesn’t come around, let your ex know that you will be forced to seek out legal counsel if he continues to ignore his financial obligation.
Man finds success in coming out group
Q: This is not a question but I wanted to write you and let you know how much I have been helped by attending a “coming out” group this year. I have known I was gay since I was a little boy. It seemed that I always knew but never acted on it because I was so afraid – afraid to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing; afraid that I wouldn’t please a man sexually; afraid of what my family and friends might say. So basically I lived a very lonely and isolated life – for 32 years. This group has helped me come out to my family and friends and also to come out to, and, accept myself. I now have a group of friends that I go places with, my family knows who I am, and I am out at work. For the first time in my life I feel comfortable with myself and content with my life. Coming out hasn’t been easy but it is certainly worth it. I would suggest that anyone in the coming out process to find a group that will help you come out, as well as support you while you are coming out. It has made all the difference in my life.
A New Man
A: Congratulations! I’m very happy for you; you did it right.
Have a problem? Send your letters to: “Dear Jody,” C/O Between the Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: DearJodyValley@hotmail.com
(Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly. )