I have a small problem. My niece is 14, and the other day I met her boyfriend. He's a sweet boy, with double-pierced ears and amazing fashion sense. My niece fell for him when she saw him sporting a pink jacket in the hallway of school, which is, of course, the reason my niece likes him. What teenage girl wouldn't want someone to go shopping with? As a middle-aged homosexual myself, I can spot a proto-queer a mile away. Needless to say, my sister loves the boy—he's a perfect gentleman. I'm inclined to let it be. They're only 14; what harm could it do? Then I worry, what if this goes on for years? I don't want her to get hurt. Then again, this boy could just grow up to be a Felix Unger–type heterosexual. Any advice?
A Caring Loving Uncle
My response after the jump...
It's comforting to think that your niece is safe with this boy, seeing as he's a perfect little gentleman now and likely to be a perfect little pillow-chomping bottom when he grows up (or one of those rare fashion-forward tops). But a study conducted by the University of British Columbia found that gay and lesbian youth—closeted or otherwise—were more likely to get pregnant/impregnate than their straight peers. Because nothing says "I'M NOT GAY!" like a knocked-up 14-year-old girlfriend.
So here's what I'd do if I were you, ACLU: Pull the boy aside for a chat. Begin with, "You seem like a nice kid," and then let him have it: "But if you get my niece pregnant, I will kill you." Now pay attention to the italicized bits in what comes next: "I'd rather you didn't fuck her—she's 14, so are you—but if you need condoms or advice about anything, don't hesitate to ask. I won't repeat anything you ask me about to my sister. And don't think I won't kick your ass just because I'm gay. I can and I will. Oh, and love the jacket—where did you get it?"
The boy will emerge from this harrowing chat aware that his girlfriend has potentially violent family members who are watching out for her—something all 14-year-old boyfriends should be made aware of—and that he can confide in you, the involved gay uncle, privately and about anything. It's unlikely that he'll seize the opportunity to come out to you, ACLU, and it's important that you accept the premise of his heterosexuality (however improbable it might seem) before, during, and after your talk. You'll be nudging him in the direction of coming out to someone, at some point, by setting an example, ACLU, while decreasing the odds that he will do real and lasting harm—read: teen pregnancy—to your niece.
As for breaking her heart, well... you can't protect her from that, and you shouldn't bother to try. That's what comes with being 14.