Dear Parents: Your Son May Be Gay, But That’s Not the Point


As an out gay dad, William Dameron has fielded a lot of requests from straight parents about their suspected gay sons. It’s not the parents’ concern that is a problem; it is their stereotypes.



Dear Straight Parents:

You have come to me for advice because I am an out gay father and you are wondering if your child may be gay. First, I want to tell you that you are doing a wonderful job of raising your children in an open and loving environment. Many children today have the opportunity that I did not have when I was a child. You tell your children that it does not matter who they love, that you will always love them. This is one of the most important things that a child can hear, that your love is unconditional. Children need to hear this. Repeat it often.

There are signs that he may be gay, you say.

He likes to play with dolls.

He is sensitive.

He does not like sports.

He likes to dress up in girl’s clothes.

He likes the color pink.

James Franco is his idol.

He is effeminate, flamboyant even.

I can tell you from my vast experience that all of these signs point to the conclusion that your son may indeed be straight.

That’s right, he may be straight or he may be gay or he may be transgendered.  The only thing these signs mean is that he likes to play with dolls, that he is sensitive, that he does not like sports, that he likes girl’s clothes, he likes the color pink and that James Franco is his idol: nothing more. I don’t even want to address the offensive effeminate, flamboyant comment.

See, while you are trying to be very sensitive to your child’s sexuality you are missing out on one of the biggest opportunities, and that is to discuss how stereotypes mean nothing. All of the “signs” that you have pointed out to me are stereotypical depictions of gays. There are a few on the list that match me, but if you were to use this list to try and figure out if my husband was gay you’d be out of luck. Let me describe his traits:

He loves cars and has rebuilt dozens with his father.

He loves sports. He is a huge Patriot’s fan and played football, tennis and basketball in high school.

His definition of a good movie is one with lots of explosions.

He was the high school prom king.

He calls women “gals”.

He pees standing up, with the bathroom door open.

He loves me, body and soul.

That last one was a trick and I wanted to see if you would catch it. It is perhaps the only way you would know that Paul is gay. There is only one other way to know: if he tells you so.

I know that I am simplifying things here and that you want some magical insight or you want me to use my “gaydar” to let you know what I think. But if I did that I would be perpetuating another stereotype, that all gay men know another gay man when they see one. I don’t. If anyone tells you that they do, they are lying.

Let your son play with dolls. Let him dress up in girl’s clothes and paint his room pink. Have a tea party with him. When he tells you that he has a girlfriend the proper response is never, “Oh thank God, I thought you were gay,” and the proper response is not, if he tells you that he has a boyfriend, “I knew it, I told your mother!”

My single piece of advice to you, whether your child is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight, is that children learn from what is unsaid as much as from what is said. Love your children no matter who they are, but show them that they cannot be bound by the shackles of stereotypes and then watch them soar.

—art by bree95/Flickr

About William Dameron

William Dameron migrated from North Carolina and lives with his husband in Boston. His work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Saranac Review and Nerve. His blog, The Authentic Life, is a collection of personal stories about his husband and their blended family of five children. Both startlingly funny and touching, they are a celebration of what he has found: that living authentically is the only way out. One day he will finish his memoir. You can also follow him on Twitter @wcdameron.


  1. Bill, I am a mother of a lesbian 21 year old and I try to the point that I think I am successful to accept and love her the way she is and by successful I mean we have a great relationship, she is out to everyone with her sexual orientation, her girlfriend is part of our family and I never protray any negative feelings. I read lots of post regarding straight parents withe gay children to try to learn and understand. But, to tell you the the truth the fact that I have a lesbian daughter is something that I struggle with daily. I know its my flaw and lack of tolerance covered with ignorance but to lie and say that it does not affect me would be hypocritical. I wonder desperately if one day I will be able to feel 100% liberated from my negative feelings and truly happy and greatful of so many positives this child brings into my life. Sometimes I truly believe that I am very damaged and beyond repair… Thank you for your positive posts , many people need to read them , learn from them in our daily battle to be better parents to gay children.

    • The fact that you can admit your feelings and want to improve them shows that you are not damaged or beyond repair. You simply have negative images that were acquired early in life, which makes them all the more difficult to unlearn. I had such self hatred for so many years and my mother did not accept me when I first came out at 18 and pushed me back into the closet. When I came out the second time at 43, she accepted me and my husband completely. People evolve and they do so at their own pace. keep loving your daughter, keep reading and keep learning. And please, if you need support, click the link to my blog below and send me an e-mail. Thank you for commenting.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful article. I really enjoyed it. I hope that I can make a request without it being heard as criticism. Could you please consider using “transgender” rather than “transgendered”? The word to describe my identity is a noun, just like the word to describe your identity. It’s who I am, not something that was done to me. Again, thank you for writing.

    • Thank you! Language is so important. Just as I prefer gay to homosexual, I understand the difference between transgender and transgendered. Thank you for speaking up and pointing out the correct term!

    • Ed Farthing says:

      Thanks Walker – as a gay male who worked for Equality NC after I retired as an attorney I was constantly trying to get rid of the “ed” on the word transgender – I not gayed, I have yet to meet a lesbian who was lesbianed and I have not clue how one would be heterosexualed, and I do not want to know how one would do that 🙂 Just saying 🙂

  3. As a person I have always hated these stereotypes because of the reasons you listed, because they label people. As a straight man though I’ve also hated them because they say that my gay friend can take pride in his appearance but that I cannot.

    My point is not that I think straight men face discrimination, my point is that these labels hurt men as a whole- and I’m willing to wager that Mr. Dameron agrees with that idea. This article is a well written and focused for parents of which I am not, and this comment is not me claiming any oversight against this piece.

    My point is that one day when I become a father I hope that my child will know that I love him no matter what, and that no stereotype should ever make that future child afraid to be a certain way. I’m hoping to raise a child unafraid, a child with hope.

  4. Janet W Hardy says:

    Thank the lord for “effeminate” straight men! They keep butch straight women, like I was for many years (I now ID as bisexual), happy, and make the world a more accepting place for men of all types, interests and orientations.

    A son who likes dolls, pink and Glee might be gay. Or he might be straight. Or bisexual. Or transgendered (you might have a daughter, not a son). He’ll tell you when he knows himself, if you’ve made it clear that he’ll be loved and accepted no matter what the answer is.

    • I have several male friends who love to cook, take care of the kids, craft, etc. and their wives love that they do this. I think breaking down the wall of stereotypes makes us all happier and healthier.

  5. I think your English is just beautiful! Thank you for sharing this thought. Your nephew is so lucky to have you.

    • Liliana Garcês says:

      Thank you. I would like to clarify just a few things:
      The prejudice I’m talking about is not within our family, it’s from the outside. Mainly at school, where kids can be a bit cruel, he has had a few problems with this mates. The family tries to protect him the best we can, but it’s not easily done since we cannot force others to change their attitudes.
      The family suffers a grat deal of pain because they try to explain to him that people can be cruel toward those who are somehow diferent from the stereotype in their minds and heads. It’s not easy and all we want is for him to be as happy as he can be.
      As my reply was read from outside parties, it was brought to my attention that it may sound as if this was a judgement to the family but that’s not the case. I think most of his problems are related to the narrowmind that surrounds him outside his home. So, I would like to say: he’s lucky he has his family. 🙂

      • You are still awesome and even better? The entire family is awesome.

        It sounds like he has a family that loves him and while life might be difficult right now, that will pass and he will always remember the solid love and support that you all gave him.

  6. Liliana Garcês says:

    I’m sick and tired of telling the same thing. My nephew is a wonderful 16 year old boy who’s been prejudiced because he likes to do the so-called girl stuff. And no matter how many times I’ve told everyone that this isn’t relevant, they simply don’t listen.
    I reaaly don’t care who he will love in the future as long as he’s happy and the person he chooses makes him happy. And I really, REALLY don not understand what a guy’s stuff is or what a girl’s stuff is… So what if he volunteers to help his grandmother by cooking? I would really appreciate his help!
    I would love to show them this text, I just may translate it in order to do that.
    Sick and tired of stereotypes. (Oh, and sorry if you find mistakes – it has been a while since the last time I wrote in English)

  7. “He does not like sports.”

    As a straight guy who’s never had an interest in sports, I’ve always deeply resented this stereotype.

    Thanks a lot, sports fans (not to mention P.E. coaches, etc.)!

    • All of my brothers love sports. They can tell you the stats about any ball player and I always felt so out of place, so gay. But, Paul knows everything about sports and he is just as gay as me. Let’s put the whole not liking sports stereotype out to pasture!

  8. Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes. Thank you for this–by “preparing” for the possibility of having a gay son, we continue the mindset that it is abnormal to be gay, something to be dreaded or feared. Simply accept your child. Is that so much to ask?

    • I have a friend who is pregnant. When I asked her if she had a preference for a boy or a girl, she smiled and said “I want a gay boy.” Her husband rolled his eyes and said “Can’t we just start with healthy.” I think the times are changing.

  9. This is a great article. Interests are no more indicative of gay or straight than is the color of someone’s car. Unfortunately, a lot of gay men pick up or self-enforce the stereotypes as a way to conform to the community, identify themselves to the community, or just because they think they are supposed to act that way. Your description of your husband is awesome.

  10. I am a late bloomer and did not come out until seven years ago (after being married to a woman and having two children) I understand what you say about picking up those stereotypes as a way of identifying. I finally felt a part of a community, so I shaved my head, grew a goatee and muscled up. I felt like my outside needed to change with the inside. A couple of years later I realized that I was just who I was and went back to the boring haircut, clean shaven but gay. The thing is, I can enjoy doing things now and not worry about being labeled gay. I like to dance, I like shopping for clothes and decorating. If someone tells me I’m gay, I thank them for the compliment. 🙂


  1. […] As an out gay dad, William Dameron has fielded a lot of requests from straight parents about their suspected gay sons. It's not the parents' concern that is a problem; it is their stereotypes.  […]

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