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For Parents and Family Members of LGBT People Support and advice for any parents or family members of somebody suspected of struggling with their identity.

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Old 3rd May 2011, 09:38 PM   #1
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Default 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Some months ago my son's computer was having issues. He wanted me to look at it and see what I could do. In cleaning things up, scanning for viruses, and the rest I discovered that he'd been looking at porn. In particular, gay porn.

I didn't ask about it right away. I wanted to be sure that it wasn't some malaware, virus, or trojan that was doing the activity. When I made sure that it was him I asked if he'd been going to any porn sites. I showed him the browser's history and never once mentioned that the porn was gay. If he is homosexual, then that's the way he is. Being a teenager is tough enough. I didn't want him to think that I had issues with homosexuality.

He said that he didn't go to the porn sites and he exclaimed that those sites looked gross. (I only had the history window open with the names of the sites up. There was no porn on the screen as we talked.) He almost had me believing that it wasn't him going to those sites.

In our short talk I told him that porn was fantasy, that he shouldn't think of it as reality. It's the ideal fantasy. I told him that I wasn't against porn but that he needed to know that real people aren't the Barbies & Kens as they're portrayed in porn. I also went over privacy & security issues when you're on the net. Etc. I wanted to be as sex positive as possible. But I'm not sure how much got through because he kept telling me it wasn't him going to those sites. Our talk lasted ten minutes at most.

In the following weeks I then noticed that the browser's history was being completely erased by him, but the porn site cookies were still showing up.

In the end I'm left with a couple of questions.

1) Should I do anything to let him know that I know, and that I'm OK with it? Or should I sit back, be supportive in general like a normal dad, and wait for him to tell us when he's ready?

2) Should I tell my wife?

I did tell her about the porn back when my suspicions were that it was malware on the PC. Her first reaction wasn't that good. I too have to admit that I had to struggle through some personal issues to come to full acceptance. There was probably a week of moody grief on my part that I didn't explain to anyone around me. (I liken it to buying tickets to Las Angeles only to get off the plane and finding yourself in Miami. Both are great places but it is a shock when you find you didn't reach your initial destination.) But my wife's reaction made me wonder if my son's sexuality is something that should be revealed only when he's ready to do it. That's it's not my place to tell his mom.

Before answering question 2 you should know that my wife's mom discovered her true sexuality late in life. She went full into the lesbian lifestyle when my wife was a senior in high school. It caused a ton of issues for her children to work through.

Sorry if I rambled a bit or I come across as a little incoherent. I'm looking for honest input.
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Old 3rd May 2011, 11:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Hi, Quail.

First, welcome to EC. We don't have a whole lot of parents here, but that's something we'd like to change.

Second, wow. Your son is incredibly lucky to have a father as thoughtful and openminded as you are. It sounds like you've already gone through the stages of loss (and make no mistake, the loss of your perception of your son as straight is indeed a loss) and come to accept where he is.

My guess is you may actually be further along in acceptance than he is. He probably knows that he's gay, or knows he likes looking at naked guys, but very possibly he's still in the stage of wanting to be straight or trying to be straight. That, too, is a normal stage (part of the same 5 stages of loss) that every gay kid goes through.

I would say the best course of action is to subtly reinforce the message that being gay is normal and healthy, that you and your wife have no problems with it, and that you'd love a gay son as much as a straight one, but then leave it at that. If you can figure out a way to subtly point him here to EC (maybe leave it open "accidentally" or something), he can read the stories of lots of other guys his age and perhaps that will help him along.

It's also remotely possible that he's bisexual or simply experimenting and questioning, but if the sites you're seeing are consistently gay and not hetero then... likely not.

The other thing that I'd say is of concern is if he's participating in any online communities, or places where he can IM. Webcams and gay teens can be a dangerous combination, and unfortunately online predators (older gay men that prey on teens) are an epidemic problem right now. That's one of the things that makes EC special; we have unusually strict security and monitoring provisions that help to keep our community a safe place where teens can talk and communicate safely with minimal worries about inappropriate behavior and creepers. I talk to a lot of young teens who have run into problems with predators and if I had a kid your age, that would be my biggest concern. It's probably reasonable to have some sort of monitoring of what IM activity is going on, or what social networking/chat sites, if any, he's visiting.

Finally, just letting him come to you on his own time, once you've made it clear you're ok with it, is going to be the best choice.

Feel free to message me or any of the advisor team if you have any other questions (or feel free to post more in the forums.)
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Old 4th May 2011, 12:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Well at 14 depending on how isolated the viewing of it is it could be nothing and he could just be trying to figure it out. Or he could just be curious and just going where the links take him xD. I know when i was around that age i did the same thing when i wasn't sure and so did my younger brother (he got caught i didn't xD) but i have since come out and my brother has not and is apparently straight although he knows there wouldn't be a problem if he was gay/bi.

If it seems like he is looking at this stuff a lot then theres a very good chance he could be gay or at least bi and still sorting through it. Where he is now is either
1) he knows you know what he was looking at
2) he knows you know but is clinging on to the delusion that you somehow didn't catch the gay stuff xD

i think it would be safe to go to him and let him know you did see exactly what he was looking at and telling him it is ok. Let him know that wether he is just figuring it out and confused or wether he is gay or bi it makes no difference and that you will love him and treat him the same. Have a good conversation about it and simply from there decide if he is ok with your wife knowing. If he isn't give him time to decide when to tell her for himself.

If he knows you are receptive and accepting then when he does decide to come out (and it may take time or he may find he isn't gay or bi) it will be easier. And in general i think it would speed up the process and make it easier for him in the long run. Being gay/bi can be tough, especially for kids but looking back i think i would have preferred to come out far sooner than i did and one of the most important things in the coming out process is making sure those first people who know are on your side and will support you.

Like i said he will work through things on his own terms so don't necessarily expect him to come out to you immediately or anything (he may not be gay/bi only he knows but it does look like he is) but it would only be beneficial for you to have a talk with him about it all.

I mean the other question is does he know what gay/bi is and does he really understand sexuality? If not you may want to talk with him about it as it may help him sort through how he feels.

---------- Post added 4th May 2011 at 03:21 AM ----------

chips method may be better. Subtly may be the best route, i'm generally more direct about things so my idea may not be as practical xD
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Old 4th May 2011, 01:16 AM   #4
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

I'd like to echo Chip's complimenting you for being a good, accepting parent. I'm not sure whether you should tell your wife that your son may be gay. You have two conflicting duties here: the duty to let your wife know about her child so you can better raise him together, and your duty to respect your son's privacy and right to come out when and if he chooses. It ultimately boils down to which you think is more important
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Old 4th May 2011, 06:21 AM   #5
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Most of the good bits have already been said, so I won't rehash them. I will compliment you for finding us and keeping an open mind about everything.

The only other thing I have to add is that if you make gay jokes or anything like that, which is easy enough to do without realizing it, then I'd recommend actively trying to cut that stuff out of your vocabulary. Even if you're overtly accepting, if you're cracking gay jokes or things like that, it might send off mixed signals and make you seem less accepting than you are.

As for telling your wife, that's a tough call. It might be beneficial for your wife to know or suspect so she can check her behaviour and come to grips a bit, but then if she's going to flake out it might be better to hold back. Of course, there is also the question of whether keeping it to yourself or cluing your wife in will be the better thing for your son.
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Old 4th May 2011, 06:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

I would guess your son is more emotionally close to you than to your wife? Because there can be a chance your son, whenever he comes to terms, will come out to your wife first (usually moms are the loving, understanding type and the first choice between which parent to break the news to first).

If you feel she might have some issues with your son's possible homosexuality/bisexuality, I would advise that building a strong trust relationship with your son should be your top priority, that way he comes to you first rather than her. Your son then would have an ally and your wife can accelerate her path to acceptance when she realizes that not only her son but her husband is OK with it.

I am really happy your son has you as his parent because you go beyond what you're expected to do to help him, we don't really get many parents here asking questions. May God bless you and good luck to you and your family!

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Old 4th May 2011, 07:08 AM   #7
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Talk to him. Make sure he understands both that it's okay to be gay and that you don't have any issues with it. I mean literally say those words. Don't hint around it; be direct so there's no misunderstanding there. Then make sure your actions are reinforcing that. I don't mean go out of your way to demonstrate but make sure you aren't dismissive or negative to gay images on television or gay issues on the news, that sort of thing.

When I was 14, my mom found so pictures of naked guys that I had printed off from the web while cleaning my room while I was at school. When I came home, I noticed she'd been in my room and immediately checked on them and found them missing. I went into full panic mode. That night my dad asked me to go with him to Home Depot to help pick up some stuff though really it was just an excuse to be alone in the car to talk.

Instead of being direct and saying what my mom found, he hinted around it without ever saying it. He said that my mom had found some pictures and that she had ripped them up into tiny pieces and thrown them out, that I was too young to be using the internet for porn, and that I was grounded for two weeks because of it.

He never mentioned it was guys. Never mentioned the word gay. Never mentioned that he and my mom had talked about whether I was gay and that they were fine with it. Instead, I took the aversion, the ripping them up, the being alone away from the house and my brothers, the grounding, that my mom was avoiding me, and the tone he was using only when I was in trouble to mean that being gay was a horrible thing and that my parents could never accept it.

At 14, I was not even close to admitting I was gay. I didn't understand it. I didn't understand what I was feeling. I was messing around with my best friend and getting mixed signals from him. I was confused. I had a ton of feelings I had no idea how to handle. I knew that what I was feeling wasn't normal for boys, that my other friends were talking about girls and playboy. I didn't know what to do, where to go, who to talk to. I couldn't be gay. It had to just be a phase and if I waited, I'd start liking girls.

Instead, I started getting depressed. I didn't know how to handle that either. Instead, I just took everything and buried it away. I pushed it into a small little part of my mind and dove into schoolwork and academics so I didn't have time to focus on that. I completely severed my friendship with my best friend, became extremely angry with him, and pushed that away.

At 17 when my friends had girlfriends and started having sex with them while I still hadn't even kissed anyone, I pulled away from them and ran to video games and mmorpgs where I could be someone else. The depression was growing and I was still avoiding and pushing it away. Everything was fine.

It wasn't until 21 that I could accept that I was gay. Once I came out to myself, I had to come out to my friends. At that point it was consuming way too many of my thoughts. I would analyze every action I made, every word that I would say making sure it didn't look or sound gay. And then once I came out to myself, all that time was spent thinking about how my friends would react and how to tell them. Once I told them, all that time was spent on how to tell my parents. So things happened a bit faster for me than many of the stories on here. It was only three months between accepting myself to coming out to my parents.

But that mountain of depression and repressed emotions was still there. Coming out but a crack in the dam, but finishing school, my main was of avoiding those issues broke it and it all came crashing down. School was done and I had spent so many years avoiding ever thinking beyond that point. I couldn't think of the future because that meant thinking about being with someone and dealing with who that would be. I'm 25 now and just now getting the help I need and getting better.

Was it all because of my parent's reaction to finding porn when I was 14? No, there were plenty of other negative responses from other sources that helped things along that path. The world was a very different place then and the internet wasn't even close to what it is today. There was no Google, Wikipedia, or YouTube to help me.

But that scene replayed in my mind pretty often whenever I did try to think if I was gay. If my parents had been accepting back then and made it clear it was okay if I were gay, that their reaction was because it was porn and not gay porn, it would have been a big help. I probably would have been able to come out much earlier or at the very least had someone to talk to about many of the issues back when they were much more manageable.

He's 14, looking at porn is a bad thing. He was caught with something he thought was secret and it was put in front of him by his parent. He denied it and took steps to make sure he wouldn't be caught again. Talk to him and make it clear you are okay with it. You just need to do it once and then go on and be a normal supportive dad and subtle back up your words. Even if he isn't ready to accept that he's gay or even if he isn't, that will stick with him.
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Old 4th May 2011, 08:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

them. I found my step-dad to be crude & prejudice and have worked hard not to be that in my life. But trust me. I'm not perfect.

My son and I do like to watch "Shin Chan", "South Park", "Family Guy", "American Dad", and the like on Netflix & Cable. While they do have episodes that aren't 'gay bashing' in terms of jokes, they do have jokes & episodes that portray the stereotype and they show people not accepting of anything that's not 'normal'. Even before the discovery on his computer I had my suspicions and would let him know that being gay is OK when we'd spot these shows. The only thing I would have issue with is the concept that being gay was a free pass to be promiscuous and to break hearts. It's something I've always stressed with him, respect the people you're in a relationship with and expect the same.

As to leaving links to sites on his browser, I've already done some of that. I left a link to PFLAG. I'll probably add this site and Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" on YouTube. Good idea.

My son might be bi. He might be just exploring. But 5 months of monitoring cookies to gay porn websites leads me to believe he is gay.

Thanks to all who've responded. I'll probably ask more questions as they come up. Again, thanks to all of you.
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Old 4th May 2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

I think those above have said some good words, I agree that if your son is going through denial of being gay then hinting that your accepting will probably go unnoticed.

As above I can see its difficult to know whether to tell your wife or not, I think perhaps rather than directly saying to her, 'I think our son is gay', perhaps when the right opportunity pops up like when there is a gay theme on the tv or somewhere you could bring up the subject and say how difficult it must be for gay kids as they are growing up and how you hope that your children (sorry I dont know if you only have 1 or more) know that they could always come and talk to you about it and that you would be totally supportive and love them just the same gay or straight, that way you havent gone behind your sons back but it might give you the chance to discuss it hyperthetically and help your wife almost come to terms before the time comes.
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Old 4th May 2011, 11:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quail View Post
Before answering question 2 you should know that my wife's mom discovered her true sexuality late in life. She went full into the lesbian lifestyle when my wife was a senior in high school. It caused a ton of issues for her children to work through.
Hi Quail, welcome to EC. I'm just going to look at this point about your mother-in-law and ask a few questions. Was/Is her orientation general knowledge in the family (particularly with your son). This can be a way of opening up dialogues about homosexuality. Your wife had to deal with her mom coming out and that will inevitably come up again when your son comes out to her. Don't do it for him unless he asks for it. This is not something for you to share, its not your secret or revellation to tell, its your son's.

And before everyone jumps down my throat for suggesting keeping things from a spouse.....Yes there are somethings that have their own timings and need to be held in confidence, there's nothing wrong with that. Its a highly sensitive issue for your son and will take time.
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Old 4th May 2011, 01:09 PM   #11
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

I don't have anything really to add, but I would like to say that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you are actively trying to get advice and seeking out ways to support your son.
I just think it's really touching.
If all parents were as proactive with their LGBT children, I think it would really be something.
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Old 4th May 2011, 01:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Most everything that needed to be said has been said. I know when I was younger, and first looked at porn I would tell myself that I was looking at guys because I was bored and that I wanted to know how my penis compared, or something of the matter and it took me a very long time to accept that I was looking at it because I liked it. 14 can be a VERY difficult age to be gay, because you are just discovering your sexual urges.

One thing I will say is that subtle hints are good, but at some point you need to make it very clear. It can be very confusing sometimes, and when you tell yourself that it's wrong, its hard to believe that there are people who dont.
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Old 4th May 2011, 02:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Yeah, I don't have much to say about this that hasn't already been said but I think you're being a really amazing Dad by reaching out for answers and stuff. If he is gay, or bisexual, just let it be known that you're accepting of LGBT rights in his presence on a relatively occasional basis. Trust me, it will totally help him out a ton if he is struggling to accept himself. He has to come out on his own terms and on his own time--and that might be years away, definitely don't force a confrontation with him or anything like that. When he comes out...stress how much you love him and how proud you are of him and stuff like that, and say it often because it can't ever be said enough during times like this.

As for your wife...when your son does come out, you might have to calm her down and console her or something, you know, be there for her. It really is a grieving process I think but everyone will be happier in the end.
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Old 4th May 2011, 02:41 PM   #14
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

First off, it's great that you're approaching this calmly. At this point, you know your son is gay, he knows at some level that he is, and he knows that you know. For the next little while, I don't think you need to push it with him, in all likelihood, after some passage of time, he'll come to you and say something like, "You know I'm gay, right Dad?". He's probably worrying about both the reaction of his friends, and then about his relationship with his mother.

The biggest issue at home will probably be with your wife. But I imagine a large part of her discomfort with the subject was about what it meant for the relationship between her two parents. Like in the case of divorce, but even more so, as a child might wonder if their parents were ever really in love at all. It changed her whole thinking about her family structure.

So being gay might have negative connotations for her, so I think you should subtly occasionally raise the issue with her. I'm not sure where in New England you are, but surely it has come up as a political issue as ballot initiative. We're going through a slow shift in the Western world, where over the next twenty years, countries and states will adjust towards a point of thinking of being gay as quite normal, so it does mean that there will be opportunities to raise it with her.

I'd almost have to differ with straal1972. If you've noticed any that's led you to suspect that he might be gay, chances are so has she. So I wouldn't push it with her, but there's a chance that if it comes to point where she finds out long after you now know, it could create more issues for how she thinks about it. So don't say, "I think he's gay", but more of a "What if he were". As in, don't act like you've jumped to the conclusion.
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Old 4th May 2011, 02:47 PM   #15
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Everything has already been said, but, Quail, I have two words for you.
Parenting win.
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Old 4th May 2011, 05:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Just to throw another opinion into the mix, i think acting normal is the best thing you can do. You're already doing a good thing be being so accepting, but you might make him nervous if you push to hard to talk about it. My advice would be to relax and he will come out when he is ready or if he is straight and there is some stupid virus on the computer making look like he has been on gay websites, then he wont feel angry at you for thinking he is gay. My mum told me on at least two occasions that it was ok if i was gay and i never felt confident enough to admit it, but then later i felt i could because i knew she was ok with it, sometimes you need time yourself before you can talk to others, even a great parent like you seem to be. Hope my ramblings help.
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Old 4th May 2011, 06:45 PM   #17
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Quote:
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Everything has already been said, but, Quail, I have two words for you.
Parenting win.
<3
Yeah I just came in here to say this....I'm sure every LGBT individual wishes they had a dad like you!
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Old 4th May 2011, 06:55 PM   #18
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Quail,

I don't have anything to say except that you're an incredible father. Your son is so lucky to have you.
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Old 4th May 2011, 07:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Quail, I was in your son's shoes a few years ago and it's a humiliating place to be. My parents didn't seem to know what to make of the situation, but it seems like you at least realize that your son's sexuality is developing and that he's probably just as confused and nervous as you are. It's wonderful that you support your son no matter what. I wouldn't tell anyone about this; it's up to your son to come out when he's ready, and bringing up the porn will definitely embarrass him. Good luck and thank you for being there for your son.
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Old 4th May 2011, 08:25 PM   #20
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Default Re: 14 old son is looking at gay porn. I've got questions.

Sorry about my last reply. It doesn't look like it came out well in the formatting.

Thank you all for your input. I'm weighing my options right now. As to my son I do plan to let him know that I have nothing against homosexuality, but I won't confront him with his current exploration. He can take his time and tell me when he's ready.

But my wife is the other matter. I'm conflicted as to whether I should tell her or not. My heart & my gut says no. My head and sense of duty says yes. Any thoughts about that?
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