“A mother knows” is a phrase that is commonly heard in coming-out stories. I feel like every coming-of-age film that I’ve seen where the main character turns out to be gay, when they reveal it to their mother she already figured it out herself. “A mother knows” is typically the answer she tells them. Well, in I Think Our Son Is Gay, the story revolves around the all-knowing mother of the story.
The main premise of the manga revolves around the different signs the mother detects from her closeted teenage son, Hiroki, that he is gay. She is constantly taking note of his verbal slip-ups, such as revealing he wants a boyfriend and then retracting the statement and insisting that he meant girlfriend. She soon realizes that her son has a crush on one of his friends and she tries to be supportive, but there's only so much she can do without him being out or accidentally outing him herself. There are also flashback scenes from when Hiroki was a child that the mother looks back on that helped fuel her gay son hypothesis.
My favorite chapter of the manga happened to be the very last one. The mother looked back at when she finally realized her son might be gay. He was in the eighth grade and she happened to come across Hiroki’s internet search history, which contained “naked men”. At first she is in a panic. She starts hysterically crying and calls her husband who is away on business. The only word she is able to get out is “Hiroki”. Thinking there is something wrong, the father starts asking if he’s okay, if he’s healthy, is he eating enough, if he’s doing okay in school. The mother answers “yes, he is doing fine” to all of his questions and in that moment realizes even if her son was gay, he is still the same boy she knew from before. Nothing has changed. It’s a beautifully done chapter, perfectly illustrating how even if someone is gay, that doesn’t make them a different person.
The book also touches on how society sometimes unwittingly insults the gay community. In chapter seven, the father makes a comment about how he doesn’t mind when gay women kiss, but finds gay men kissing unsavory. For context, the father isn’t as intuitive as the mother and doesn’t realize his son might be gay. You can tell that Hiroki is hurt and struggling in moments like this one, but thankfully he has his little brother there to defend him. Yuri, the youngest son in the family and who also realized his brother was gay, often makes little comments here and there that let his brother know it’s okay to be who he is. I absolutely loved Yuri. I thought he was absolutely perfect and compared to his father, he showed how his generation is much more tolerant to “different” and showed a happier future than that of the previous generation.
I thought the book was a sweet coming-of-age story from the mother’s perspective that I haven’t seen before. I feel like this is the perfect book to give someone whose child has recently come out and is struggling with understanding it. Almost every chapter starts with “I think our son is probably gay” and then goes on to share a little quirk about Hiroki. It has an excellent message that even though your child is gay, that doesn’t make them any less your child or any different from before you realized they were gay.
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.Add to CartLearn More