CHRIS HAYDEN was 15 when he told his parents he was gay. And he was pleasantly surprised at how accepting they were. Hayden, who grew up in Toronto before moving in with his father in Mississauga (his parents had divorced years earlier), says that support really helped him through an awkward time. Now 19 and a sociology student at the University of Ottawa, he also pays tribute to the support networks a big city like Toronto affords.
“Telling your parents that you’re gay is a hard thing for anyone. It’s sort of a funny story how it happened. I had skipped a ballet class to go to this support group for young gays in downtown Toronto, and arrived home late. I told my parents where I’d been and why. My mom’s only comment was: ‘Not only are you late, but you lied to me.’ She wasn’t mad about me telling her I was gay, but for not telling her where I’d been. After the dust cleared, everything worked itself out.
“One of things that made it easier was that I went to the Etobicoke School of the Arts, which is a very liberal place. People there are more interested in the person you are and less concerned about wasting time beating up people because they’re gay.
“Coming out has brought me closer to my parents. I think it helped them understand why I was being all dark and teenage-like. It’s been a lot easier to talk with my dad since I came out. He went to a couple of discussions of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). He found it on his own; I didn’t even think to mention it to him. It goes to show the type of parents I have-they really care about me.
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“At times it’s still a bit awkward, like when I bring boyfriends home. I told my mom about getting dumped recently. It was kind of funny because I’d lent the guy a pair of gloves she’d bought me for Christmas, so the first thing she said was to ‘get the gloves back.’”
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