How Does A Straight Father Relate To His Gay Son?

Recently Magic Johnson’s son, Earvin Johnson III aka EJ, came out to the world. He was photographed with his boyfriend out on the streets of LA. As 1 of the greatest basketball players of all time and a philanthropist, MJ said publicly that in spite of EJ’s sexuality, he still loves him and is proud of him. This is actually just news to us, but the Johnsons have embraced EJ’s lifestyle for years. Kobe Bryant also threw his support behind EJ saying “What I can’t tolerate is a lack of tolerance.” This is the same guy who called an NBA ref a effin f****t. That’s splitting hairs though huh? But this made me wonder, how comfortable can a straight father really be knowing that his son is gay?

A father’s greatest pride is having a son that grows up to either be just like him or a slightly better version. My father’s most proudest moments probably included any time my name was being called since I’m a Jr. It’s something about having your father’s namesake that makes you a little extra special in his eyes. The bond we had was like any other father/son relationship. My father and I bonded over sports, cars, and when I was old enough, women. In fact, as a teenager and then a young man, my father’s 1st question about a new girl was always “is she fine?”.  It didn’t matter what type of person she was or what type of lifestyle she lived, he just needed to know that aesthetically she was appeasing. We related to one another easily because we had the same interests as Alpha males.

I’m not implying that a gay man can’t also be an Alpha male. However, he still likes men. He finds a level of physical and sexual attraction to men in a way that’s not fine with me. I realize that homosexuality is no more a choice than being short or tall is. I don’t think it’s a choice. However, to have my son come home one day and say “Dad I’m gay” would certainly cause a knee-jerk reaction. As his father, it’d be my job to make sure that his heart is always protected. It’d be my job to teach him about safe sex and being a great judge of character. But it’s not my job to dictate who he loves; no matter how much I can’t understand or relate to it.

It’s also hard to imagine a son having to filter himself with his father. I mean as a boy, your father is your 1st best friend. In EJ’s case, his father is a generational hero. Not only did Magic Johnson set the blueprint for a player like Lebron to exist, but he also gave America a face to attach to the deadly disease of HIV. For so long, HIV was relegated as a disease of exclusivity. Only “those” people contracted it. I was about 14 when MJ’s retirement was broadcasted. For years after that, it was taught that it was largely a disease that originated in the homosexual community. We all know that that’s not true. Being homosexual has evolved into being more socially tolerated now. Though it’s still not accepted.

Which brings me to my point – my love for my son would not change. The care, concern, and responsibility I have as a father would not dissipate. But I just wonder how of even if I’d be able to relate to my son if he were gay. I doubt I’d be able to have open conversations about his relationships or answer his questions that deal with sex. For example, there’s an unspoken rule among men when we see a fine woman walk by. If there’s another man within the vicinity seeing what we see, regardless of race and age, we kind of nod in agreement. Without words, we’re both thinking the same thing. I can’t have that moment with a gay son.

The other aspect I think about when it comes to having a gay son is what other people will think. No matter how much you love your child, the opinions of others do matter to you. I mean that’s why some people spend so much time dressing their children the right way, making sure they go to the right schools, and exhibit the right behavior. When TMZ ran the story and photo of EJ with his boyfriend, there were people clowning the way EJ was dressed and his mannerisms. The black community, especially, is unforgiving and lacks empathy or remorse for the gay community. I expect that my gay son could be the butt of jokes from the time he came out. Obviously, I’ll raise him to be proud of who he is and not hide his identity. Though, I’m not sure how I’d follow suit and refrain from feeling embarrassed by his individuality.

I realize that by the time my son is fully grown and out in the world, he’ll have an entire population that will understand him and help prop him up in the ways that I may fall short. But I think my biggest wish – if I do have a gay son – is that there will be some common ground between us that would keep our father/son bond as normal and in tact as possible.

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