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Internet Chat rooms and my 14 year old gay son

Discussion in 'For Parents and Family Members of LGBT People' started by Minny, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. ABeautifulMind

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    Im sorry if this has been said, I didnt have enough time to read all the posts, but I did read a few...

    If your son just wants to be friends with the 17 year old, that doesnt raise any flags to me. Now Ill be honest, that is because I had several friends who wer 13, 14, 15 when I was 17 or so... Now honestly that was because I was also friends with their older brothers, but I dont think that changes much. IF I had met the younger brothers without knowing the older brothers, I probably still would have been friends with at least some of them...

    That being said, I didnt date anyone 14 when I was 17.

    So, if your son just wants a friend, I say more power to him. And considering the relationship you have with him, I think he would mention it if he was interested in dating him... Assuming you ask of course. If he is interested in dating him, well that throws up red flags but that is a bridge to cross once you arrive at it... No need to plan a crossing until you know you need to :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
     
  2. Minny

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    Many thanks ABeautifulMind for your reply. I appreciate your thoughts on this. My son is talking to people online but mostly his own age. Of course I can never be entirely sure since I take it on trust that he is...

    Hi MamaB, many thanks for your message. I will be like you: when my son reaches 16 I will definitely relax a bit more as there's a world of difference from 14 to 16...okay, maybe not a world, but at least they are a bit older! Thanks for your insights about allowing dating etc. I don't think it's an issue for us at the moment since my son isn't meeting any boys in real life only online. He wants a boyfriend but I don't think this is going to happen until he is older enough to go out with friends and then meet someone. I'm hoping as he gets older more guys will reveal themselves to be bi/gay - but at 14 it doesn't happen except online - at least not in our area....

    Many thanks to you both for thinking about my situation - it is much appreciated.
     
  3. Raydar0110

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    Hi Minny,
    I think that your approach is amazing form what I have read ( only some of the posts as there are allot)
    Just keep in mind that most people on the internet are ok. I have met several people though games and even know 2 couples in a long lasting relationship who met online and live in different countries.
    However I would not recommend it for a 14 year old. I would advise you to encourage him to make friend regardless of if they are LGBT or not as a loving support network of peers is very important, at least it has been for me in the past few days.

    Also with regards to age, one of my good friends is 40 with a wife and kids but I'm only 16 but I don't find it strange. Most people on the internet look past age and judge people more on their personality but at the end of the day you know whats best for him and I'm just a observer but I congratulate you for trying this hard to help him.
     
  4. Calf

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    Hi Minny, from all your posts in this thread I'd say you have a fairly balanced approach here - which is a hard thing to do. I know that internet socialising comes with a lot of risks (most notably those that affect our mental health) but you appear to have put plenty of reasonable safeguards in place for your son.
    Let's not forget, when I was 14 and the only out person in the world (that's what it felt like) I had to go out to dodgy places and meet real world weirdos and 'predators' to find other gay men so maybe the internet really isn't the demon some people see it as.

    As for the local LGBT group, to be honest I wouldn't have gone either. I'm not even sure that it's always a good thing. I think your intention is spot on because you're aware of your sons isolation and you want to help him - something many people don't even acknowledge. However going to a group or event where the only thing that connects you to the other attendees is your sexuality is a bit weird when you think about it. It can also be a bit insulting when people just expect you to like anyone else just because they also happen to be gay - something that I'm sure we all understand. *imagine a conversation where somebody says "oh you're going to love {name} she's straight too" odd isn't it* Again, I completely understand your intention here and for some kids it could have been the best thing to ever happen to them but I just wanted to try and highlight why it might not be the best thing for your son. Incidentally, did he give any reason for not going back or did you just get that typical teenage grunting kind of response? :grin:

    I also noticed that the 17 year old issue is now a none issue but I think moving forward you have enough precaution in place to not worry about this. If you try to limit your sons interaction with older boys then maybe you run the risk of him making bad decisions behind your back, as teenagers tend to do when things are forbidden.
    I'm shocked actually that so many people here were so cautious and horrified since many people on this forum (including myself) are older people offering advice and support online to younger and less experienced or questioning people. Yes there is some risk but there's certainly a disproportionate amount of stigma involved.
    On the flip side, anyone like myself will remember being a young teen in an isolated existence, suffering what feels like endless loneliness and how amazing it would have been to have had an older role model that knew how we felt, really understood us. As much as people can tell your son that 'it gets better' it really only feels real when it comes from somebody who genuinely knows from experience.
    Being able to remember this time in my life is the main reason I come to this forum. I, like so many others here, want to help others in a way that only we can, so I think it's important to bear that in mind in future. Not that I suggest relaxing the rules though, as I already said, I think you've got the balance right.

    Now tying in with that last bit, I really wouldn't get hung up on the relationship 'status' at this point. Like you already said, the whole boyfriend/ girlfriend thing at this age is a bit of something and nothing. We're just not so used to it in a same sex context.
    That being said, it's a difficult balance for a young gay boy/man because our friends and our sexual partners are likely the same gender. The confusion of a friendship between equals, the respect for a role model and attraction towards potential partners is incredibly difficult -especially with all those new found romantic hormones :icon_redf. It's a challenge that many of his peers will never even have to consider but he will cope and work it all out in time.

    Most of us here have managed to get on in life so I have no doubt that with all the support and love that you give him (something that many of us didn't benefit from) he will grow up to be a happy and confident young man with all the opportunity ahead of him that you could hope for.
     
  5. Minny

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    Hi Raydar0110, thanks so much for your insight. I take your point about 14 years olds perhaps being too young for the internet but my son is home-educated (he's very bright and didn't get on at school) so is limited in who he meets in the real world.

    He does go to various sports classes and other things and we've made a huge effort over the years to get him to meet various kids his age, but he hasn't made any friends. He's quite picky!

    He's not lonely he says but does want a boyfriend! I would say he's pretty mature in many ways and probably knows all there is to know about the dangers of the internet and really the only options open to us is to completely ban online socialising - which we don't want to do (well, my husband probably does want to do that!) because I do feel it is one way of getting some kind of social contact. I'm hoping as my son gets older and goes to college he will get to know a few people in real life with whom he has more in common.

    He does know people in the home-ed community and, as I say, in these classes, but he doesn't really click that much with them, that's the problem. He has clicked with a few people online - all gay - so I want him to continue. I'm hoping that by my stepping back a bit, he will continue to trust me and come forth with anything that might be awry online....it's a difficult balance though.

    Hi Calf, thanks so much for your considered response. Yes, quite, vis your point about the internet not being quite as potentially dodgy as meeting 'real life' predators at age 14. I'm not too worried about the internet though tonight I had another 'red flag' when my son was telling me something about someone he'd been talking to online. It's a difficult balance.

    Bottom line is that he isn't meeting any gay boys - or really anyone he particularly likes who is straight - in real life, so the internet forms his social life. It is truly isolating for him in that he has had straight male friends in the past but he doesn't feel he can tell them he's gay. I'm afraid a lot of 14 year old boys are not gay-friendly! At best, they scarper pretty quickly. That breaks my heart, which is why I'm happy that my son has his few internet friends at least.

    So far as the local LGBT group: that is precisely what my son said:ie. just because I'm gay, doesn't mean I'm going to necessarily get on with others because they're gay. But this point was exacerbated by the fact that when he went to the group meeting, only one boy turned up and my son didn't like him!

    I'm hoping that as he gets older, more people his age will reveal themselves to be gay or at least gay-friendly. He has recently made a friend who is a straight girl who was thrilled to have a gay friend, she said, but typically, he now doesn't like her!

    Interesting to read your point about the difficulty for gay boys because their friends and romantic interest are the same gender. I think this is tricky for my son particularly with male friends whom he may now fancy (but are probably straight - he can't tell them he's gay, he feels, in case they reject him). I do wish my son had a lovely circle of friends, but that is perhaps more to do with other factors atm (being home-educated etc) more than his being gay. In fact, being gay has actually brought him closer to having a social circle - at least online.

    Many thanks to both of you for taking the time to write.
     
  6. Mitchell

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    Hello,

    I have to say my perspective on this is probably a bit different. I am on the autism spectrum and have yet to really have had a friend in-person. It's always been others that were pushed onto me, without my having any interest.

    Other than family friends, all of my friends I've met online. At times you come across someone who initiates something that is not acceptable. I've found it to just happen, but it's all about responding appropriately. I had a friend who I met online when I was 15 who tried something. I told my mother. At the same time I told someone else, which ended up being frustration because in the end my mother was told it was her who had to deal with it - and she did, but it was a lot of drama.

    I did high school online and went in to the local high school for essentially check-ins, and had eventually tried going to GSA there. That was the worst decision I could have done. I was 17 at the time, and started to become manipulated by someone who was 15. I was talking to him about my favorite James Bond and Godzilla movies, and he wanted to come over to watch them. I assumed I was making a friend, and I was glad when this "friendship" ended as it was him trying to initiate things that I was not seeking. For what it is worth, nothing happened. Which is why I suspect he decided to "move on". Especially considering it was just a week or two after I outright left the room on an incident.

    I met one of my friends online when I was 12. I'm 25. We still talk to this date. A family friend took me to Manhattan with her this past summer, and we met him for dinner. No aspect of the friendship has ever and never will be sexualized. He is four years older than I am, although when we first "met" there was no big issue related to this. We both had an interest in certain online games, and no serious conversations about anything unrelated to computers and online games took place until I was 15

    I've found all experiences trying to find friends in-person to be miserable. Even worse trying to find LGBT individuals. It's been nothing but feeling like an outcast for lacking social skills and a shared group of friends, and having the issue when I was 17 myself where someone that was 15 was trying to manipulate me into things that I wasn't willing to do and haven't done. In a sense, I am extremely fearful to meet people in-person. I ended up doing high school online and am in an online university program after just feeling that I didn't make a single friend on-campus, nor did I felt like I even knew how.

    I believe it all has to do on the individual. When I was 13 I was talking with these friends on the phone at times. Then again, it was nothing inappropriate nor was it anything that was hidden. I was asked who I was talking to. If I was sent photos (all of which again, appropriate), I happilly had shown my mother, being that it gave me the social aspect I felt I just never got.

    He isn't of age for this, but I enjoy a virtual reality world called Second Life. I believe you need to be 16 to get on, and then you are limited to what you can access because there are also very much so adults around with the ability to do adult things, my friends are on there for the most part. People I communicate with every day. Online, phone / text messages, skype, and so on.

    Again, this is my perspective, also being that I do not do anything I shouldn't. Being that I am 25, I will admit - I have found guys I am interested in. Other than talking, nothing really occurs to be concerned about. And they are all other adults my age. Wanting to see what it is like to really go places with others, one plans to visit me in the near future and we are going to go somewhere fun. At a younger age, an extreme amount of caution had to be used.

    Lacking real social contact in-person, and often fearful to even leave home alone (Although I am starting to force myself to do it...), and having been this way since a small child, I'd have to say I truly had a benefit from my friends i've met online. Without this, I wouldn't have anyone to talk to other than my parents for a little bit in the evening. I wouldn't have anyone to talk to on the phone, video chat over Skype, and in many cases I will play online games with these people. As I said, after twelve years I met one of them with a family friend.

    I feel indifferent on these replies, but only because of my experiences... and the true lack of experiences in-person, and the feeling of being trapped inside my home without any real social outlet on a consistent and reliable basis. Things change slowly. I got a job last summer in a school and I've been tentatively hired back this summer. But having the lack of anyone to converse with would be terribly upsetting. As would someone insisting on knowing extreme details. At the same time, I suppose I told my parents everything anyway. They hear more about certain aspects of my life than many would want to know.

    Personally, seeing a parent be so hesitant... I understand. I really do. I just understand loneliness. And it isn't pleasant. It led me to very dark places.

    I'm curious how this thread goes.

    Edit: I would like to add that I see things in the thread about home-studies for school. Public schools for me were miserable. Part of the agreement for them to pay for my tuition for an out of state online school was done in a way that I feel it isn't usually done - being that normally you will get your diploma locally and the other schools credits transfer. Mine didn't. I was given a schedule stating I was in this office all day. I went in a few days a week for like an hour or two a day. Where it was miserable. And I was told other students weren't to be told of this arrangement. It became one because my mother pulled me out from the school but never signed me out for services. They agreed I could get tuition paid if I came in at times with my laptop and textbooks. Thinking back on it, none of it was close to ethical. They reimburse my mother with a check, and for my classes I would sign up online with the school and print it out, and then give it to them and they would send in a purchase order. So the local school never had record that I graduated. I was contacted years later asking if I ever did. Scheduled in classes I never set foot in. Not meeting other students correctly and having to mislead them as far as what I was doing there. In the online school, students there did not really talk. It was independent studies. I still value the friends I've met online.
     
    #26 Mitchell, Mar 11, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  7. Calf

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    The problem is, most straight teenage boys only think about other teenage girls - any teenage girl! So when they find out a guy is gay they imagine that they as 'any teenage boy' they must be a target of affection. It's not fear or hate, it's just emotional and social underdevelopment. Over the next few year, the dominant media will knock all that self confidence out of them and then they'd be glad to know that at least one person finds them attractive (but that's a whole other issue)


    This isn't going to last forever though and as he gets older there will be more opportunity to make new male friends, gay and straight.

    The problem here is that whilst many gay men have some great female friends, it becomes offensive when somebody points out your sexuality as a key factor in the friendship. For some girls it can be more like keeping a pet than forming a sincere friendship and this may be what upset him about her.
    The plus side though is that as an adult gay man he won't have the usual gender boundaries when it comes to making good friends so he can have the best of both worlds in time.


    I forgot before to ask and suggest that you look in to connecting with other parents of gay kids. Maybe it's been suggested before but if you can it would be a good way for you to put your mind at rest on some issues but also is a way of finding other 'approved' gay boys. Of course he isn't obliged to like them but sometimes a mutual awkward feeling of parental embarrassment is enough to form a friendship -surely we've all been there. :icon_bigg
     
    #27 Calf, Mar 12, 2017
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  8. B a r e f o o t

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    I can tell you as a gay man, that at any age, finding someone is often not easy. That is why in the LGBT world you see age gap relationships more than in the straight one. We just don't have as many choices. But that's not meant to justify age gaps at your sons age, just something to keep in mind. It's a struggle, and I'm sure it's very important to him, being gay especially. He knows how difficult it is. Skype video is the best way to verify the age of someone, and if they won't go on Skype, or make excuses, that's usually a huge red flag. But I'm writing this most of all to address another issue; that of meeting and falling in love with someone from another country or any long distance relationship situation. One can fall in love just as easily and deeply online as one can in person. I know, I've been there. And it nearly always ends in heartbreak. Because they usually can never meet, and it has to end. When it does it hurts. Sometimes a lot. That's why I set limits on how far away the other person can be. I would make a concerted effort to find a way for your son to meet someone more local, in person. There are many advantages and reasons to do so. Though I realize some can't do it, even with a lot of effort. It's not that there aren't other gays around; it's that they are closeted. It's very unfortunate.
     
  9. Minny

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    Hi Mitchell,

    Many thanks for your kind reply.I found your perspective about socialising online very interesting. I agree: for many people - handled with care - it is a great resource and my son find it so, certainly.

    I just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear what a very tough time you had growing up and at school. It is hard being a bit 'different' from others (and I'm not talking only about being gay here). My son feels it very much and his experience at school really dented his confidence. The fact is: birds of a feather, flock together. Which means that most people like to hang out with people like themselves. So if you're a bit different there are fewer people you're going to click with.

    It's not necessarily anything to do with being on the spectrum or being gay. My son is 'gifted' but has a really hilarious sense of humour...but just came over as a bit different. Hence, he found it difficult to fit in. I was the same - not necessarily unpopular but I found it difficult to find good friends at school and at university. And from the outside I had everything going for me (even though I say it myself, looks, intelligence etc etc...). So in fact a lot of people find it difficult to fit in. I just want you to know you are not alone and that you sound like a really great person. Thank you again for your advice.

    Thanks Calf for your input. I take your point about the girl wanting a gay friend. Problem was my son isn't into shopping and she had thought that perhaps - being gay - he would love traipsing around malls...another stereotype....!

    I'd love to find other parents of gay teens but for all I know there aren't any. Or rather there will be but no teens seem to be out....it's not that common to come out at 14, it seems.

    Yes, Blootsvoets, I can imagine long-distance relationships are very difficult. We're in the UK and my son's friends are mostly in the US. Travel is possible for us so I'm not too pessimistic about his meeting people in person. Hopefully he will meet someone closer, however, as he gets older. Unfortunately, making a concerted effort to encourage my son to meet people locally is not producing much ... I'm hoping when he starts college at 16 that will change. Many thanks for your interesting points.
     
  10. Chip

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    Minny, has anyone suggested PFLAG.org to you? They're an organization specifically for parents and friends of LGBT people, and there's a chapter in practically every city in the US, and in many other parts of the world as well. That could be a great resource for you (if there's one anywhere near you) and they may even have some online resources.
     
  11. Minny

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    Thanks Chip, I have had PFLAG mentioned to me. There is a Scottish branch but when I looked it up it seemed as if it was for people who have difficulty coming to terms with their kids being gay which we don't. Having said that, I might ring them on the off-chance they have other parents of kids the same age as my son...not sure how my son would feel about that though! Many thanks for thinking of me Chip.