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Dear Christine, Fearing Fatherhood

  • Posted on August 27, 2017 at 10:49 am

Dear Christine,
I am16 years old, now the thing is I’m not really sure of my sexuality, but I think I’m gay.
This weekend I had a talk with my grandma (this is when they start telling me my duties as a man and other crap) and she spoke about family and how I’m the only male of my generation with my granddads surname, so should I not have children, our surname kinda dies with me.
When I told her i don’t want kids, she threw a fit and lectured me about how I’d be killing a legacy. We also watched a popular TV show which features a gay couple, and she said to me “and I hope you don’t like what you see.”
Also, my mom is very homophobic (my dad seems more accepting) and if she found out about me, there will be a sh*t-storm. What’s worse is that even she expects me to carry on the family name.
Normally, I don’t care what people say (even my parents, but they know that I don’t want kids) but the way my gran spoke to me made me think. Part of me thinks that my family is selfish for expecting something of me that I’m not comfortable with, but another part thinks that I am being selfish for not wanting to have kids for the family.
I am not the kind of guy to just sleep with someone, so I won’t be having kids unless I actually marry the woman.
It seems that so far my only solution (which I am greatly considering) is either studying abroad and hopefully finding a job there so I can stay, or moving out of the country after studying and running away.
I know I’m only 16 and shouldn’t be worrying about kids, but let’s be honest, this is going to haunt me for a long time, so I might as well think about it now. So far I have no plans of coming out to my family.
What I want to know is whether I should go through life faking being straight, marry a woman and have kids with her? Also, any other advice would be appreciated.
Signed, Fearing Fatherhood in Farmington

Dear Fearing Fatherhood, Hey!  Last time I checked, most families didn’t want their 16 year old kids having babies just to carry on the name!  You are too young for all this pressure!  If you aren’t out to your family, then I’d encourage you to not come out until you’ve got more support in your life to cope with your family’s dreams and expectations of you.

David-Furnish-Elijah-Furnish-John-Zachary-Furnish-John-and-Sir-Elton-John

So, what do you do?  It’s hard to be out and proud with homophobics in the family.  You are not alone, however.  There’s support, here on the internet, and in the real world (Affirmations Youth Program would be a good place to start http://.goaffirmations.org).  If you have a parent (your dad seems more possible here) have him check out Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG, a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters.  There, your family can get facts and information about having a gay kid, and they can discover that it is completely possible for you to have your own children, even as a gay man!  Science is wonderful!  For PFLAG in general, check out this site:    http://pflag.org and for PFLAG Detroit’s area chapter see http://pflagdetroit.org or PFLAG Ann Arbor http://pflagaa.org or info@pflag-fr-detroit.org. 
I do not recommend trying to pretend to be straight to the point of marrying a woman and having children.  That’s not fair to the woman, or children, and it’s certainly not fair for you.  Focus on school.  Graduate High School, and the College.  Studying abroad is a great way to learn more about yourself as an independent adult (I studied in Jerusalem for a year).  There are others who make sure they move out of the family home as soon as they are able to support themselves, some even moving out of state, where they can explore who they are without family pressures.

Gay men have kids all the time these days.  There’s women who will be a surrogate for you, allowing her egg or someone else’s to be mixed with your sperm and implanted in her for the pregnancy.  There’s also plenty of foster children and children who need adoption.  They might not carry on your genes, but they are children who are here and desperately need a family to belong to and to love them.  I just heard an interview with Elton John on the radio last week, and learned he now has two sons, Zachary (2.5 y o) and Elijah, 9 mo old) both born of a surrogate mother.  He has been legally in a civil union with David Furnish since 2005, and is a staunch supporter of gay marriage in the United Kingdom.  The United States is changing rapidly in attitudes and laws about gay marriage.  There are currently 13 states that allow gays and lesbians to marry, and fifteen countries around the world that recognize gay marriage.  The Federal Agency that collects taxes in the US, the IRS, recently ruled that gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in any state or country must now file taxes as a married couple.  Social Security also just announced that same sex marriages will be recognized by the Social Security Association, allowing gay couples retirement and disability income rights, among others.  There are lawsuits going through in Michigan and Ohio and other non-gay marriage states that are working to overturn the state constitutional amendments that were made 6 -9 years ago to forbid gay marriage.  You’re 16.  By the time you’re ready to marry anyone, male or female, I’m guessing it could be 10 years.  That is a long time with how quickly change is happening in acceptance of gay and lesbian families and marriages.  By the time you finish college, you may well be out, living in a different state from your family and you may be out and happy with life.  And they may see what more straight but not narrow people see:  you are still their son/grandson, and they love you for who you are, nothing more, nothing less.  Take care, and keep in touch.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Orlando: Coping with Trauma

  • Posted on June 13, 2016 at 10:11 am

The mass shooting in Orlando, killing at least 50 of our queer brothers and sisters, injuring 53 more is a horrible, unspeakable trauma for the GLBTQI… community.  I want to share some ways to cope with trauma and tragedy that I am doing. * Take care of yourself:  be alone, if that’s what you need, or be with loved ones.  Get hugs, kisses, cry together, hold each other.  Pride celebrations this month, and candle light vigils and prayer services offer community opportunities. *Grieve however you need to.  Be angry.  Be sad.  Withdraw.  Jump into action.  Cry.  Scream.  Sit quietly.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve. *Focus on what helps you.  Today, I am focusing on the individual people who were senselessly murdered, getting to know their names, who they were, what they were known for.  I am holding each one in my heart and mind.  Meditate on them, pray for them, their families and loved ones, for us. *Ignore those infuriating things you can’t do anything about:  the media, the glorification of the shooter, the  manipulations by politicians, the ignorant and cruel comments you may hear on social media or from people around you. *Breathe, deeply.  Focus…

Terrified in Toledo

  • Posted on April 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Hi Christine,

I’m 22 years old and haven’t come out to my parents yet and I need to. I’m terrified because I know they are anti gay.  That’s why I’ve waited so long.  I’m trying to decide the best way to do it.  Should it be in a public place?  Should I have a friend with me for moral support?  Should I email them while I spend the weekend out of town?  Yes, I’m that nervous.  I don’t want a scene that I’m afraid is coming. Is there a good way to break this news to them that will be less shocking for them and feel safe for me?   I hope you answer, thanks,

Signed, Terrified in Toledo

Dear Terrified,
I feel for you, wanting to come out and just be yourself, but your parents are anti-gay.  Are you living with them now?  Are you financially dependent on them?  Is there a risk that they will kick you out or disown you, take away your transportation, cutting you off financially?  If those are possibilities, make sure you have a safe place to live, even in temporarily.  And make sure your support network of friends know what your plans are and will be able to be there for you.

I can’t really assess the best approach for you, as I’ve never met you or your family.  But I encourage you to trust your own gut feelings here.  Do what makes you feel safest.  If going out of town for a weekend to let them discover and digest an email feels right, then do that.  That will minimize a scene, as you won’t be physically in the same place when they find out and they will have to process it some before you see them again.

Meeting in public, like in a restaurant or a park, can be helpful to minimize the risk of an outburst. However, some people will still make a scene.  If you think they might make a scene, it might be wise to have a friend with you for your support.  Make sure you have your own transportation (or a friend’s) to and from that public place too, so you aren’t stranded.

Some friends of mine, Mike and Jan Neubecker, have a gay son, Lee.  He finally came out to his anti-gay, Christian parents by leaving a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays  http://www.pflagdetroit.org/) brochure in his dad’s sock drawer.  Mike, the dad, found the brochure after Lee had come home from college one weekend, and he flipped.  He and Jan tried to get Lee into reparative therapy, to “make him straight” but finally realized that wasn’t working.  They joined PFLAG and educated themselves.  They learned that their son was gay because that’s who he is.  It wasn’t their fault as parents.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault.  No one is going to burn in hell.  They had grieving to do, because they had assumptions such as they thought their son would never marry and there would never be grandchildren.

Well, now Mike and Jan and proud grandparents of a sister and brother that Lee and his husband adopted several years back.  They are a close family and travel together and have fun on holidays.  Mike and Jan became active in PFLAG Detroit, and later founded PFLAG Downriver for many years.  They have retired, and have moved further down the river, but are still actively involved in regional PFLAG activities and agitating for understanding and knowledge about gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.  He has been a part of the PFLAG Speakers Bureau for years.  In fact, Mike has taken a Methodist Lay Preaching class, so he could talk to churches about his son and the importance of love and acceptance in families and in the church.  Then he took a comedy class at The Royal Oak  Comedy Castle.  He’s got a wonderful set I laughed through on his graduation night performance.

Your parents might not be ready for you to refer them to the love, support and education that PFLAG meetings provide, but PFLAG will be there, ready for them anytime.  Sometimes parents go into the closet when their son or daughter comes out.  You’ve been struggling with this information about yourself for a while, so give them some time and space to process all of this.  Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes months or years, but many many families come around to loving and accepting their gay or lesbian child, once they stop blaming themselves or fearing you might be headed to hell, or worrying that they’ll never have grandkids.

Write again, please, and let me know how your reveal goes.  The bottom line, is take your time and do this when you feel emotionally safe, financially prepared and ready to deal with whatever happens.  Sometimes it’s better to do it and deal with whatever happens, rather than wait and wonder.  Trust yourself in this matter.
Take care,
Christine C Cantrell, PhD,

Psychologist