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How Did Your Son Tell You He Was Gay?

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What is it like to have an LGBT child? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jae Starr, mother of four, on Quora:

David was very definitely born gay. One of his favorite words was "pretty," which he would chant over and over while stroking my clothing. He liked to do way too many things most folks consider "little girl" activities, and he didn't care for many "little boy" activities, at all.

Well, we didn't care. Dave is Dave: cute, funny, scarily intelligent, curious, and could put ideas together in a way that got him in trouble more often than not. In junior high, he told us about a girlfriend and he went to a few dances, but we didn't breathe any sighs of relief or anything because we really didn't care one way or the other. His two brothers didn't care either. It just wasn't something we made a big deal out of.

High school graduation came, and Dave started applying to colleges. The one he picked was an all-male college, despite having had some other very good offers. This was no surprise to us, and off he went, calling when he needed money, going to friends' homes for vacations, having a blast, and getting pretty good grades. In other words, things were totally normal.

After college, Dave came back and started working, and he finally brings home a "friend." That's how he introduced our quasi-son-in-law, as "a friend." We said, "How're you doing? Nice to meet you. Would you like to stay for dinner?" Then Dave and Rob moved in together. I thought, "Oh, good. Dave's found someone."

Then I made a mistake, which, at the time, I thought was the right thing to do.

Dave's sister called and I was giving her the run-down on her siblings, and I said, "And Dave and Rob will be over, too." She asked, "Who's Rob?" I told her, "Rob is Dave's significant other." She said, "Oh, nice for Dave." But then my daughter called Dave, and they chatted awhile, and then Dave called me. "Mom," he said, "how could you tell my sister that I was gay just like that? Coming out is important, and I wanted to do it myself!" I said, "Dave, you've been 'out' pretty much your whole life, and no one cared; were you going to hang a banner across the front of the house?"

His sister didn't care; she was just happy for her brother. So it was all okay in the end, but I felt bad that I had "taken away" from Dave something he felt was very important. I felt bad because the rest of us didn't think it was important, at all.

Apparently, now that his state has passed gay marriage laws, Dave and Rob will be getting married soon. That's nice; I'm glad they get a chance to be like everyone else. But to me, it doesn't matter. That's Dave, and that's Rob, and that's fine with me.

So, I think for us it worked well because no one really cared except Dave, and he never thought he was hiding some big secret, he just hung around with folks who told him how traumatic or life-affirming or soul-cleansing coming out would be, so he wanted to try it. I always get a slight cringe when I think that I ruined that for him. But we always supported him because he was Dave, not because he was gay.

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