Dear Patricia Marie,

My 21 year old son has just announced to my husband and I that he is gay. I am totally shocked, devastated and completely unable to cope with this revelation. I still love him, but am disgusted by his behaviour.

He wants us to meet his boyfriend, but I have said absolutely not. I believe he thinks it's fashionable to be gay, but I am horrified. He has had a few girlfriends in the past, but nothing serious. Now I'm thinking this was all a disguise to shield us from the truth. My husband is putting on a brave face, but is distraught. We had presumed in the not too distant future our son would marry, and we would one day be grandparents, but I feel I have now lost my son.

My world has been shattered and I don't know what to do. Please help.

Patricia Marie says...

For any parent, finding out their child is gay can come as a shock, and facing up to this news can be difficult and painful, but in your case, if you are unable to alter your way of thinking, then you could indeed risk losing your son. He has finally taken the enormous step to trust and 'come out' to you both, only to be rebuffed. Have you considered how he is feeling? Being gay is not a choice. What your son needs from you now is simple acceptance, not to be made to feel guilty. Perhaps the first step in acknowledging this would be to welcome his boyfriend into your home. Many parents who have been in your situation find that, once they come to terms with their child's sexuality, the relationship between them deepens, and please stop worrying what others think; true friends will be supportive of you, and most importantly should accept your son for who he is.

Try to gain a sense of perspective – at present all you have lost is your own idea of how life should be. Your son hasn't changed. He's still the same person he was yesterday. Who's to say your son won't have a family and provide you with grandchildren in the future? Don't let him down at the time he needs you most, but instead show him the unconditional love every child deserves. The important factor in any relationship is not the gender to whom people are attracted - more that they love, respect, and treat one another with kindness.

Contact Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG), who are brilliant at supporting parents when their children come out - and after. They would understand the very complex, raw, and totally understandable emotions that are enveloping your family at present. I also recommend: Always My Child by Kevin Jennings; this great read provides the insights and practical strategies parents need to support their children and cope themselves, having established their child is gay.

Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: fflag.org.uk/0845 652 0311