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My 16yo openly gay son wants to meet his online boyfriend at the Mall. He never had a bf before. However the boyfriend’s family wants to meet with us before, just to know who we are. They don’t have a clue that their son is gay and they think the kids are meeting only as friends.

I’m not comfortable meeting the parents in this situation, as I’m hiding the information about their son and I feel like I’m betraying the family’s confidence in me. Of course I’d never tell them about their son, but I don’t want to be in this position of secretly hiding the kids relationship. On the other side I don’t want to be the one jeopardizing my kid’s relationship by not being part of this meeting. What should I do?

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When I was visiting my sister I noticed her daughter and her daughters friend, that was a girl, and their interaction with each other which was obvious enough that when my sister and I were alone I asked if her daughter had a girl friend, and my sister confirmed that that was true.

Our mother never asked and never seemed to figure it out, and we never told her.

For our family this worked out ok. Those of us who could see the truth of the relationship saw it, and those who were not able to see it didn't, and frankly, my niece's sexual orientation was not then and will never be the topic of a "family discussion."

Your role in this is to support your son, and allow his boy friend tell his parents, or not, when he feels the time is right.

Should you ever be questioned about not telling the other parents, it's best to hold your ground that the information was not yours to share.

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    I think it’s a different situation as the other parent is seeking some validation of their relationship on my part
    – Shake Baby
    Jul 22, 2023 at 11:01
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    @Shake Baby, As your question states the other parents don't know that their son is gay, and think that your son and theirs are just friends. Unless I'm missing something, the only thing the other parents want is to meet your son so they know he really is a 16yo, and meet you, to see what kind of family your son comes from, and that's it. The other parents aren't asking you to discuss their son's sexual orientation, so don't. Your loyalty is to your son, and anyone he cares about, not to the other parents.
    – user42851
    Jul 23, 2023 at 1:42
  • This answer omit the OP's personal opinion about needing to lie about it or hide it in the first place; it only focuses on any blame later put on the OP for having lied about or hidden it. I gather that the OP is uncomfortable about the meeting itself, not just worried about being retroactively blamed for having met the parents and not told them. A modified example to get that point across: suppose the OP were gay themselves and categorically opposed to any notion of any person needing to hide their sexuality (let's say due to past personal trauma) - would this change your answer?
    – Flater
    Jul 27, 2023 at 3:58
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    @ShakeBaby You mentioned that this started as an online relationship. So maybe the other boys parents mostly want to confirm that the person their son met online is indeed a 16 year old boy. This is a reasonable worry and you can satisfy them without talking at all about why the boys like to hang out with each other.
    – quarague
    Jul 27, 2023 at 8:12
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This is not a betrayal of anyone, and please please do it!

First of all you aren't betraying anyone's trust because the BFs parents aren't meeting with you to ask you to protect their son from having a bf, their meeting with you to determine if your son is trustworthy with their son. There was no promise or expectation that you would inform them of their sons sexuality. Your role in this meetup is identical regardless of rather they are friends or more and then that, and so are your expectations. Seriously there is absolutely no lie here.

In fact your refusal could almost be seen as a double standard here (note, I'm not saying it is, only how it could be seen, relevant below). Would you have such a problem if say your son wanted to meet with a girl who he wanted to date but the parents thought the relationship was just friendship? Lets be frank kids have crushes all the time, parents often don't know who kids are attracted to and most kids prefer that, would you feel obligated to tell parents any time you knew a kid had a crush on another kid? Is the problem really that the two like each other as more then friends, or that you feel bad in supporting a kid in hiding his sexuality from parents he doesn't yet trust to be open with? Because if it's the latter, the parents have no right to that knowledge to begin with unless and until their son is comfortable sharing it!

To be frank it can be hard to be gay, it can be extra hard when you are in the closet and afraid to tell anyone, and triple so if you can't trust even your own parents to support you. For this boy it likely feels like the world is against him and no one supports his sexuality. Perhaps your personal concern is just that you feel it's wrong to paint a relationship as a friendship and it has nothing to do with their sexuality, but that isn't necessarily how he will see it. To that boy you will be yet another adult who refuses to support him, his sexuality, and his desire for a normal relationship. Just one more piece of evidence that it's not safe to come out because people can't be trusted to support who he is.

Whatever your personal motivations for being uneasy, it will look bad to the boys if you don't support them. It could potentially even harm your sons belief that you fully support his being gay if you fail to support his first real gay relationship.

Put simply the potential harm to the boys of having you not support them in this, whatever your motives, is far far higher then any theoretical harm to the parents not knowing that their son has a crush on someone. The very real need of both kids to have you support them in their first relationship is a much much higher importance. I'd plead with you to meet with the parents in this situation.

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  • I don't think anyone can make the decision for the OP that they should do it (or not), because we simply do not know the OP and their personal belief system and experiences. A person's prior life can justify them refusing to engage in this kind of subterfuge. You're asking someone to lie about something, an act that makes them deeply uncomfortable. Who are we to judge that they should endure being uncomfortable?
    – Flater
    Jul 27, 2023 at 4:10
  • I do agree, however, that the OP's son's BF is the most affected party in this, and having OP reach out to them to talk it through might be the better way to see what everyone will be most comfortable with.
    – Flater
    Jul 27, 2023 at 4:13
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At the end of the day, this is a question of your priorities. Would you rather:

  • Not be forced to engage in an encounter that makes you personally uncomfortable?
  • Minimize your child being effected by negative consequences, even if this means needing to do something that makes you deeply uncomfortable?

You can justify either. What's more, it would be unreasonable for any person (other than yourself) to tell you that one of these stances is wrong - this is very much a question of your personal comfortability and priorities.

There is a third option: blunt honesty. One can argue that it is the best outcome for everyone in the long run - but to what extent is this a personal opinion, and does it really factor in that your honesty impacts others negatively (especially your son's BF) in the meanwhile?

I don't think any of us can tell you what you should prioritize here. Different strokes for different folks. One person might be able and willing to hide a gay relationship from people - another person might be opposed to the very notion. Neither of them is wrong, they just have a different opinion on the subject. We cannot decide this for you.

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Fact is your son is gay. There is a chance that the boyfriend is gay, but he might just be an online friend. Fact is you don’t know the parents. They might be fine with their son having a relationship with a gay boy, or fine with the son having an online friend who happens to be gay, or they might be against it, from slightly against it to violently anti-gay.

So this meeting might be just fine, or might end in disaster. But whatever the outcome, there is little you can do about it. If it’s a disaster, you can handle that, and give son and friend fair warning, so that would still be a good outcome. Well not good, but better than the kids having no warning.

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    the beginning of the question makes it clear that the son is meeting his online boyfriend, and this indicates that the other young man is gay. If the other young man was not gay he would be a friend, who is a boy, not a boyfriend.
    – user42851
    Aug 6, 2023 at 20:59

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