Pride Month Reads: I Think Our Son Is Gay Centers on a Mom Who Realizes the Difficulties of Coming Out
5/5 wholesome moms
I Think Our Son Is Gay is one of those manga series that feels like it tapped into my own personal experiences and illustrated them in a cute art style. Having a mom who thinks (read: knows) that you’re gay but who patiently waits for you to say something hits me to my very core. It’s EXACTLY what happened to me, and this manga has managed to tell that story in a relatable, wholesome way.
Honestly? This is a manga I think libraries and classrooms need to have at the ready.
Synopsis of I Think Our Son Is Gay volume one
Despite belonging to a family of four, the Aoyama residence is typically home to three due to father Akiyoshi’s job. While he’s away at work, mom Tomoko and her two beloved sons Hiroki and Yuri go about their everyday lives—going to school, making dinner, doing homework, etc. But now that Hiroki’s in his first year of high school, his thoughts are turning ever so slightly to sex and romance … and his mom can’t help but notice his slips of the tongue when he’s talking about who he likes.
Supportive Tomoko has an inkling Hiroki might be gay, but she’s going to let him figure it out for himself. Unfortunately, Hiroki has little talent for keeping his “secret,” so he might die of embarrassment before all is said and done!
What this Pride Month Read has in store for you
When I came out to my mom in my twenties she told me that she already knew, she was just waiting for me to tell her. At the time, I was flabbergasted, and even a bit miffed that she didn’t just tell me she knew to save me the nervousness of broaching the subject with her.
After reading the first volume of I Think Our Son Is Gay (and because, well, I’m older now), I get why my mom waited for me to bring it up first.
This manga is an incredibly sweet read. Each chapter is a couple of pages long and focuses on moments where Tomoko suspects that her son is gay. Hiroki isn’t exactly subtle about it. It’s not so much a slip of the tongue as it is a near full-blown conversation about the kind of guy he likes before he finally realizes he’s been saying boy for the past five minutes. Other times it’s her noticing how happy Hiroki looks when the boy he likes compliments him or gives him a high-five and asdfghjkldhdjhdjshgkjhfasdkf; WE TOUCHED HANDS!
What really hit me while reading this manga is that it’s not just about Tomoko working to make Hiroki feel safe in coming out to her, it’s also about the detractors her son faces, particularly the ones that people aren’t aware of. A lot of times when people talk about homophobia they’re referring to the blatant, in-your-face instances that are impossible to ignore. However, Tomoko starts to see that the detractors that set Hiroki back are quieter, more unintentional, and have been around for years.
When we meet Hiroki’s father he’s a very kind man, but he has a knack for saying things that make it hard for Hiroki to feel secure about coming out. Tomoko notices this and does her best to defuse the situation, but it’s apparent that these kinds of comments are what’s stopping Hiroki from confiding in her—or anyone, as far as we know. I couldn’t help but notice that the way Hiroki’s father delivers these remarks is extremely casual. To me, this is because he feels that having a negative opinion about two men being intimate is normal and he hasn’t been challenged on that yet.
As much as I wish that people would realize their casual homophobia, many have to be called out about it in order to get it.
Fortunately, he’s called out about it, which does give Hiroki some room to breathe, but as someone who grew up around people who casually comment about how queerness is gross or “don’t flaunt it in” or “just a phase” I know that those words can stick with you and prevent you from wanting to come out.
Tomoko has moments where she thinks back to her son’s childhood and the way he behaved, but more importantly, she thinks about the way his father would respond. His father (and maybe even Tomoko herself since she didn’t challenge it at the time) had a very heteronormative view, something that society conditions us to have. When Hiroki, as a young child, said that he loved a boy in his friend group, he was told that wasn’t the kind of love that was being referred to and that he was too young to get that stuff.
I love that this manga is addressing how often people assume heterosexual love, and how often kids are told they don’t “get it yet” if there’s even a hint of homosexuality.
I love that this manga is showing how that sticks with you, making you hesitant in coming out even if you’re surrounded by people who love you.
Whenever Hiroki’s father falls into the assumed default, Tomoko, and even Hiroki’s brother, Yuri, challenge him. It’s clear that his father isn’t purposely being hurtful, and it’s even clear that he genuinely loves his family, he’s just stuck in a mindset that society’s been stuck in for a while. It’s “normal” to ask your son if there are any girls he likes in school, and Tomoko goes through the manga realizing just how heteronormative everything around Hiroki is.
I adore the increase in LGBTQ+ manga that focus on things like this, especially this one, which has a family-centric focus where a mom allows her son to move at his own pace while gaining a better understanding of his experience.
The first volume of I Think Our Son Is Gay is available over at Square Enix Manga & Books. The second volume will be released on October 26.
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