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6 Things I Need My (Gay) Son to Understand

03/17/2015 06:09 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

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1. You Are Bound by Nothing.

Your future is limited only by your desire to succeed and work hard. Want to be a star athlete? Work your ass off. Want to join the military? Aim high. Want to be president? Go for it. Being gay in America no longer prevents you from doing anything you want to do. You just have to want it bad enough and work for it tirelessly. Don't be afraid of failure; it often teaches us far more than success ever could. Live authentically.

2. Being Gay Is a Big Part of You, But It Isn't All of You.

Yes, you're gloriously, fabulously gay! Your sexuality influences just about every aspect of your identity, but you are not a gay young man. You are a young man who is gay. You are not my gay son. You are my son who happens to be gay. If you get married, it won't be a gay marriage, just a marriage. Oh, and for the record, I want grandkids. Don't think being gay lets you off the hook on that one. It may define you, but it isn't the sole definition. One day I hope it will be as irrelevant as your eye color. In the meantime, know that while there may be those who give you grief because of it, far more will not give it a second thought.

3. Know Your History.

You are fortunate to live in a loving, accepting environment where the fact that you're gay is irrelevant at home and largely unremarkable at school. It hasn't always been this way, and it still isn't easy for everyone. There was a time not long ago when being openly gay was not just detrimental to success, it was potentially deadly. Countless numbers of men and women have fought for the relative safety and comfort you enjoy today. The modern gay rights movement, from Stonewall to Windsor, cost a lot of people real blood, sweat and tears, and it isn't over. For many people around the world, being gay is still a deadly proposition. You need to honor those who came before you by fighting for those who will come after you.

4. HIV Is Still Deadly.

HIV/AIDS may seem like some obscure bit of history that only older gay men have to deal with. It isn't. Young people account for nearly a quarter of all new HIV infections. Don't be complacent. Treatment has gotten much better, but people still die from AIDS. Don't think it can't happen to you; it can. Don't be afraid of sex, but know how to keep yourself safe and always assume anyone you're with could be carrying something. He may not even know it. You are responsible for keeping yourself healthy. Play safe and get tested regularly.

5. Understand the Difference Between Lust, Love and Friendship.

Men, by and large, will eagerly participate in sex. Know that just because a guy is willing to get naked with you, it doesn't mean he is interested in anything else. Frankly, it doesn't even mean he's gay. Also, don't assume a guy wants to get naked just because he's friendly. There will be men who think you're cool or funny or whatever, but it doesn't mean they want to get physical. They may just want to be your friend. Work to understand the difference. One day, you'll find someone who is all those things and he'll feel the same about you. Don't settle.

6. I Love You.

Last, and most importantly, I love you. My love for you is unquestionable, unconditional, and unending. Never forget that.