Recently had a son, friend, or nephew come out of the closet and want to know how to help gay young men? Don’t worry, helping him through the transition of telling friends and family won’t be as difficult as you think. Use the information below to help gay young men feel comfortable with their sexuality, with as few awkward and uncomfortable moments as possible.
- Create a safe space, a home. If your son, brother, cousin et cetera is living with you, make sure that you create a safe place for dialogue at home. You can help gay young men by encouraging conversation about their hopes, fears and goals. Make sure that you remain open minded and help your son explore his feelings without fear of embarrassment or judgment.
- Find appropriate role models. There is so much misinformation about being gay, and what it means to be homosexual. You can help gay young men, by introducing them to gay individuals and couples who successfully live, work, and raise families in the community. Showing young men that other gay men have been able to successfully integrate into the larger community is very important.
- Watch for bullying. If your son’s grades begin to slip, he begins to refuse to go to school, or he no longer expresses interest in activities he use to enjoy, he probably is being bullied. Monitor your child’s behavior carefully and watch for any signs that he is not acting like himself. Gay young men are particularly easy targets for homophobic peers. Be very involved with his teachers and school administrations, and take bullying very seriously. Teasing can easily lead to physical violence and in some cases, homicide and suicide.
- Don’t over think his sexuality. Gay young men experience many of the same problems and growing pains as their straight counterparts. Don’t feel like you need to become an expert on gay issues, read every book about raising a gay child, or constantly talk about the differences between homosexual and heterosexual men. Your son is just like his straight peers, and doesn’t need a constantly reminder of how he is “different”.
- Find outside sources of support. You may be trying to help a gay young man, but you can’t do it alone. Help your friend, son, student, et cetera find an outside source of support. Encourage him to join a local GBLTQ social club, or help him set up weekly appointments with a therapist or social worker who specializes in GBLTQ issues.
These are just a few of the ways to help gay young men. There are many other ways you can offer support and assistance to gay and questioning youth. The best way to help gay young men is to make sure they know that they will be loved and supported, no matter what. There will be painful experiences and hurt feeling along the way, but everything will fall into place in due time.