Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "If you see something, say something?"

You will have to go to Bilerico on Thursday after 2PM to find my response to this letter from a parent who wonders about the merits of outing a teenager.

Dear Father Tony,

I’m in a quandary about limits.

I have a colleague whose teen son is acknowledged by his school friends to be gay. My kid says “everyone knows.” But since my colleague has said nothing, I have no idea if he knows. I’m willing to show him I’m supportive, but is it appropriate for me to say something? Is it possible that the boy’s father doesn’t know what all the boy’s friends know and seem to accept? Or, if the father hasn’t come to terms with his son’s sexuality, should I mention “in passing” supportive comments about acceptance?

And on a related but theoretical note, what would you do if you have a friend and discover that the spouse of that person is gay? Do you say something? To whom?

I don’t know where the line is between helpfulness and intrusion. I would really appreciate your take on this.


UPDATE: Per BJ's request, here's the answer.


Alan said...

It's amazing the drama people cause -- drama that could be avoided by simply minding their own business.

I'll be interested to hear your response!

TED said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but if someone finds out that my partner is gay, I don't want to know.

sageweb said...

I can't wait for your response. I think he should keep his nose out of it. But that is my opinion. Kids aren't as freaked as they use to be over GAY people, it is a different generation. Let it go, let it be, it will play itself out.

The Milkman said...

How many of your readers might be like me... a kid whose classmates called him gay from the third grade until graduation? Clearly "everybody knew" in my situation just like this kid. And maybe he came out to his friends but hasn't done so with his family? There's so much more at stake when a kid comes out to his parents... sometimes that's why the folks are the last to know.

Colleague should leave it alone and mind his own business.

Anonymous said...

I am of the opinion that this person should definitely tell the kid's parents their child is gay! Traumatic emotional scarring for teens being outed when not ready to come out to their parents , builds an incredible amount of character and strength. They might even get to experience homelessness, when their parents decide to kick them out. Nothing teaches a child self respect or resourcefulness like dumpster diving, soup kitchens, and turning tricks. While of course this may not happen in many instances, it is always a possibility. To squander the opportunity for this young man's growth through outing, would be a shame.

As for ratting out the gay spouse of a friend? YES YES YES!!! Their spiritual and moral life is in your hands! They obviously do not know what's best for them, and need SOMEONE else to hold them accountable for their deception and immoral choices. Even if the straight spouse is completely aware and OK with their gay partner, I think their immediate group of friends should be told, their co-workers, and members of their congregation. Just because they are OK with moral ambiguity, it doesn't mean you can't hold their feet to the fire to help them see the light.

We are all our brother's keepers, and believe you me, most times we know what is in another's best interest even more so than they. "forest through the trees"...and such. :)

evilganome said...

I'm piping in with my New England, "the world would be a better place if people minded their own business" viewpoint. It is the teenagers decision of how and when he comes out to his parents. Not some Nosy-Parker.

Anonymous said...

If Perplexed wants to be helpful and enlightened on the subject of ones sexual orientation, he/she should just not think of it as an issue at all. My goodness, would anyone ever say that about some teen boy who is straight? That is what equality is gonna look like. Why is he even concerned about someone else's orientation? It obvioulsy is something about the writer not the target of his thoughts. This is all very strange. The best thing to do is live you own life and not vicariously through someone else.

Doralong said...

Is it that parents don't teach the concept of discretion any more? Or merely an indication of a sick society that people seemingly feel compelled to venture into other people's lives with such impunity..

Will said...

Excellent reasoning, and your point is well su8pported with a range of valid examples. Personal identity questions are nobody's business except the particular person's. I have decent gaydar, not rocket science gaydar like yours :-) but I never assume until I'm told (by the person him/herself) or observe something unquestionable.

For gay teens--and suicide aside--this can be a life or death matter.

bj said...

may i make a friendly suggestion about your BILERICO posts? once they are up, can you put a direct link to them? Not that one shouldn't bother with the few minutes of scrolling and looking around that site - we know it's worth it for you - but for the uninitiated (or busy, lazy, or inept) the direct link would help us find, and enjoy, your stuff much faster.

Tony Adams said...

Dear BJ,
I suppose I could do that.