Amy Dickinson, Washington Post advice columnist, gave a fantastic answer to a mother who wants her son to stop being gay. PHOTO: Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC License
Washington Post advice columnist Amy Dickinson got a question that many parents have: how can I get my child to stop being gay? Dickinson could have given the standard, “it’s okay to be gay,” and left it at that, but she took it a step further.
First, the question (emphasis added):
“I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual. We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child.
“He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule.
“Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you. -- Feeling Betrayed”
Notice the priorities here of Feeling Betrayed. She is worried that her church group will make fun of her (not her son, she doesn’t mention her son). She also doesn’t think it’s a big deal that she FORGOT HER SON’S BIRTHDAY FOR THREE YEARS. As a separate issue from the whole gay thing (and yes, it’s a separate issue), maybe your boss could give you five minutes to set up some kind of google alert to remind you of your son’s birthday.
But now to Amy Dickinson’s response:
“You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.
“I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.
“When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.”
What makes Dickinson’s response so brilliant is that it highlights the double standard of homophobia: that heterosexuality is natural, but homosexuality is something people do as a sort of hobby. Any suggestion that heterosexuality can be “turned off” is greeted with incredulity. It’s a non-starter for most straight people in the same way that not being gay is a non-starter for most gay people. People experiment and go through phases, of course, (and who cares), but if someone is gay, they are just as gay as a straight person is straight.
Not the answer Feeling Betrayed wanted, but one that she needed to hear.