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 How to Respond When a Loved One Has Same-sex Attraction

(Richard Cohen, M.A. © Gay Children Straight Parents 2007; IVP)

I know you must have been shocked when your child first “came out of the closet.” Maybe you where completely taken by surprise. Or perhaps you’d had an inkling all along and your worst fears were realized. What-ever the circumstances surrounding the revelation, the parental response is usually the same: “How could this happen? I loved you with all my heart. I know I made mistakes, but God knows I tried my best.” Maybe you blurted out all of the wrong things at first. Or maybe you didn’t say what you should have said.

Whatever happened, don’t worry about the past. You can restore and improve your relationship with your same-sex attraction child. No matter how unlikely it may seem, be assured that he is or she is hungry for your love, acceptance and approval.

It probably took your child years to disclose his or her hidden same-sex attraction feelings. It was a long, lonely and painful journey that was made without you. You can imagine what it must have been like for him in elementary, middle or high school to feel sexual attraction toward members of the same sex when all his peers were attracted to the opposite sex? How conflicted and confusing it must have been. And if your daughter grew up with strong religious beliefs, those same-sex desires were even more devastating because they were against the teaching of God’s Word. What if people found out? What would they think? What would you, Mom or Dad, say or do? How would the rest of the family feel? This has been their big secret and tremendous burden for many years. And now you know.

So what about you, Mom and Dad? Has your child’s secret now become your secret too? Are you afraid of what the rest of your family will think and how your community will react? Discovering your child’s same-sex attraction is a difficult passage, but it can also mark the beginning of a new and wonderful journey. Once you begin to follow the steps offered in this book (Gay Children, Straight Parents), you will be able to create the support network you need. You’ll learn to reach out to God for love and renewal. And with his help, you will discover that it is possible to find hope and healing for your same-sex attracted child, for yourself and for your entire family.

Today there are more answers than ever to the questions surrounding same-sex attractions. And with those answers comes hope for resorted love and even a change in sexual orientation. In spite of current cultural messages to the contrary, over eighty years of scientific research show that women and men who experience same-sex attraction are stuck in the early stage of psychosexual development because of hurts and deficits. If their wounds are addressed and if their unmet needs for love and attachment are fulfilled in healthy relationships, healing and change are possible.

As you will see, same-sex attraction is not really about sex at all. Same-sex attraction has to do with the sense of not belonging, not fitting in, feeling on the outside, being somehow different. A boy feels “less-than” and unlike the other guys; he may have been called “faggot”, “queer,” “sissy” or “gay” at school. A girl feels different too and doesn’t think she belongs with the other girls. She may have been called “dyke”, “lesbian”, “tomboy” or “gay”. Same-sex attraction is about internalized emotions of detachment and is created over years of confusion and pain. It may take many more years to undo the damage that has been done.

Consider these wise words: “The process by which a homosexually inclined man or woman finally reaches the destiny of solid same-sex commitment is a very long one. By the time a person is ready for his ‘coming out’ (as the patois of the gay world has it), it might seem that the opportunity for preventive steps is past. But this is usually not so. Quite likely, the homosexual-to-be is in a state of great anxiety and indecision. Quite possibly, he is also casting about desperately for a source of help.