Are Gay Men With Strong Paternal Relationships Less Likely to Come Out?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by jason_els, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    This thread was inspired by The Causes of Homosexuality thread. I had posted this there but was advised it was off-topic and so created its own thread.

    Are gay men with strong paternal relationships less likely to come out of the closet?

    We all know there are a lot of closet cases out there. If a boy has a strong relationship with his father, seeks to emulate him, feel loved by him, seeks to please him because of that strong bond, then perhaps a boy would be less likely to come out for fear of displeasing his father if that father was homophobic and the boy knew how his father felt about homosexuality.

    It seems logical to me that the stronger the bond between father and son then the more the son will work to please and emulate his father. Boys do look to their fathers as sexual role models and that's a unique bond which mothers cannot provide save that they can see their mother pleased (or not) by the father's actions and affections. If the father is homophobic and the son knows this, then the son may feel that he's deeply displeasing the father by failing to emulate his sexual behaviors.

    I know that many homophobic men do not regard homosexuals as men. They will use every other word to describe gays, but they won't see them as men and, truly, to be validated (regarded as, treated as, loved as) as a man by a father is something very intrinsic to the needs of a son. To then reject the father's sexuality, indeed the very act that created the son in the first place, is to reject a father in the most intimate, and possibly relationship-damaging, manner possible. The son is saying he rejects his father's sexual role in his own life and his father's parental role modeling (failing to want to conceive children of his own).

    In a healthy relationship, I can see this as perhaps being difficult but not irreparable, yet it's very difficult for an adolescent dealing with both developing his own adult personality and adult sexuality to possibly disappoint a beloved father to such an intimate degree. Wouldn't it be more difficult if that father was the object of not only love but admiration and role modeling? Add to that mix the father's possible open homophobia and the son soon learns that while they may argue about playing soccer or football, there is NO option for the son to be accepted as homosexual.

    In a poor relationship, a boy may well have looked to peers or other adults for role modeling and love so that there's less to lose by coming out.

    Perhaps that is why there are so many closeted conservatives out there? They've been raised by conservative parents who may be openly hostile to homosexuality. Say what you will about conservatism, but many conservatives are family-oriented taking great care to raise their children in the manner they believe they should be raised in all areas ranging from clothing to religion to sexuality. Many also believe homosexuality to be a choice and that adds a double disappointment to a boy with a strong fatherly bond. Not only is the boy disappointing his father but he is actually choosing to do so in the eyes of his father. It's one thing to fail someone through no fault of your own; an entirely different matter to choose to disappoint someone.

    The problem with any survey of homosexuality is that you're only surveying people who will admit to being homosexuals, not people who are homosexual but practicing heterosexuality or asexuality. For sexual-orientation statistics to be valid, there needs to be utter and complete truthfulness in the answers. Unlike chemical experiments, people can lie and they do lie and they very certainly will lie about their sexual orientation when they do not care for it to be discovered.

    So the most I can say about that 1000 man sample is that it's only taking into consideration men who are out, not men who are closeted. After all, a closeted male, by definition, wouldn't admit to being homosexual and so wouldn't participate.
     
  2. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    If fear of a father's response might discourage a gay man from coming out, then you're obviously right in some degree, Jason.
    And strong identification with the father would heighten fear of the paternal response.
    I think you have to be right.

    And I like your point about closeted conservatives. I've often thought the same thing, myself.

     
  3. viking1

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    Jason, I don't know a whole lot about this, but what you are suggesting makes good sense to me.
     
  4. Dave NoCal

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    I don't know. A strong relationship, especially these days, may actually facilitate honesty. I'm very male identified and came out to my parents and friends in 1976. My parents, initially, had a bit of a hard time with it but within a couple of years became more interested in my happines than my orientation. Thankfully, my parents and I have all lived a long time since then and the evolution of our relationships and their attitudes has been very rewarding. Now, my almost ninety year old parents, and my father is a clergyman, are active advocates for for gay people, including gay marriage.
    Dave
     
  5. exwhyzee

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    Maybe, but they might just be more likely to come out to their fathers if there is a close relationship as well. Being gay is hard to address to both mothers and fathers...because you know there are expectations and anticipations that both your parents hope for. There also has been a societal stigma against parents that have gay kids...that something they did was wrong and led to sexual preference. I think there are almost as many different reasons for remaining in the closet as there are people who are in the closet...including society, peer group, family, and personal expectations.
     
  6. northwestone

    northwestone New Member

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    rebelling against his father is part of a boy's rite of passage into manhood, and coming out to your dad is one helluva 'screw-you'

    I actually 'came out' to my parents to try to shock them when i was about 14 or 15 (even thought at this point I still thought i was straight!) it was almost a decade later that i realised the joke was on me LOL
     
  7. AquaEyes11010

    AquaEyes11010 Active Member

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    I think if a young gay man has a strong relationship with his father, and his father is very homophobic, then yes, this would likely make it harder to come out. However, if the father is accepting of gay people, and the son still has a strong relationship with his father, there wouldn't be as much of an issue. Therefore, the key would be how the father views homosexuality.

    I can see your thinking about there being "a lot of closeted conservatives" but my belief is that people who are not purely heterosexual are rather equally distributed among all groups, and the ones who happen to have been brought up in conservative families thus have a harder time coming out. So there are about as many gay conservatives as there are gay liberals, it's just that a higher percentage of the gay liberals are out.

    Realizing I was gay meant that I wouldn't have the ease of slipping into the footsteps of the other men in my family, forcing me to figure out my own path. I'm not saying that every str8 guy blindly becomes his father, but that option does exist if he can't figure out for himself a different course of life. I think the hardest part of coming out is confronting one's parents' expectations and saying "I'm not going to be doing that" more than the actual "I like men" (or "I like women" for the ladies) part. Conservatives, as a general rule, are less embracing of change, such that if a conservative son from a long line of doctors decides he wants to become an electrical engineer instead would likely face a similar process of "coming out." Thoughts?
    :)
     
  8. anglerect

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    I feel anyone who is gay will come out regardless of closeness to one's parents, however parents have to be given time to also come out, after they have had time to grieve the 'loss' of the anticipated course of a gay child's life.
    A true manly father close to his son should be man enough to come out with his son and support him.Parents with conservative ideas need to realise that there are priorities in this world beyond their own beliefs, health happiness and independance in a child should all trump sexual orientation and other peoples' issues with gay life.
    My advice to any one gay whose parents are against the idea is to advise ma and pa to get a better son or daughter to fulfill their vicarious fantasy roles!
     
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