Jack Remmington was sitting at a Mariah Carey-themed slot machine in Las Vegas when he had a life-changing encounter.
A man who appeared to be in his 40s approached Remmington -- a musician who is part of the duo Jack & Joel and rose to fame as a competitior on The X Factor (U.K.) -- and his friend Marco Alessi. After a few minutes of nervous conversation, the stranger, a native of rural Arkansas, asked the pair if they were gay.
When the two confirmed that yes, indeed they were (the Mariah slots and their pink attire were apparently tells), the man revealed he had a 13-year-old son who he believed might be part of the LGBTQ community. He then asked for advice on how to "navigate that," Remmington recounted in a story shared on Twitter Wednesday that has since gone viral.
Remmington and Alessi, drawing from their own experiences growing up, offered a series of tips for the concerned parent. Remmington recommended "normalising conversations around gay kisses on TV" and avoiding family conversations "that might shame potential queerness."
In this vein, Remmington said the dad should avoid "policing" behavior or clothing that may be gender-nonconforming. He also recommended making their acceptance of LGBTQ people known -- but not in a way that would attempt to force a child to come out before he, she, or they are ready.
"When I was about 12, my v obviously straight brother and I were watching a soap with my dad and there was a gay kiss on screen," Remmington recalled from his own experience. "I vividly remember my dad saying if either of us ever thought we were gay that we would still be just as loved by our mum and dad."
"Knowing that nothing would change stuck with me hugely and I remember that convo as if it was yesterday - it was *clearly* said for my benefit but was comfortable enough that it wasn't a direct exchange and I appreciate my dad so much for this," Remmington praised of his father's remarks.
Remmington then lauded the Arkansas dad for reaching out for advice. "He's clearly doing all the right things and is making his son feel as comfortable as he can. Take notes people this is how it's done!! Particularly given that the boy is growing up far out of a metropolitan city this kind of unconditional love and support is invaluable," he said.
Even Carey herself responded to the exchange on Twitter. "Thank you for warming my heart with such a beautiful story," the singer wrote. "I'm so proud of all of you and wish I could have been there in person to show my support!
\u201cThank you for warming my heart with such a beautiful story \u2764 I'm so proud of all of you and wish I could have been there in person to show my support! \u2764\ud83c\udff3\u200d\ud83c\udf08\u201d
Read the full Twitter thread below -- and feel free to leave your own advice for parents in the comments.
\u201cOk I just experienced the nicest exchange with a stranger and think it\u2019ll help to share: I was playing on the Mariah Carey slots in Vegas (naturally) and a friendly circa-mid-40s ish guy sat down to play on the machine next to me\u201d
\u201cI was sitting with @marcoalessifilm, both wearing pink (naturally) and after chatting a little to the guy about Vegas, he nervously asked if he could ask us a question. I knew where this was gonna go as it always does so did a bit of an inner eye roll but indulged him anyway\u201d
\u201cHe then asked if we were together so we said no (we\u2019re best friends and he has a fab bf) and he asked if we were gay, so we said yes. He then said he thinks his 13 year old son might be gay and wondered if he could ask us how best for him to navigate that\u201d
\u201cHe lit up when talking about his son, and I nearly started crying at how much he clearly loved him. The guy wanted to know how to make his son feel most comfortable about himself whilst not being too overt and glaringly obvious in forcing a conversation about his sexuality\u201d
\u201cThis man is SO sweet. From rural Arkansas and said whilst things are so much better now, he still just wants the world to be totally equal for his son. Marco and I said he sounds like he\u2019s doing all the right things and that making his son know he\u2019s loved is the best he can do\u201d
\u201cWe both gave a couple of anecdotes from personal experience, largely relating to condoning abstract things when you see them like normalising conversations around gay kisses on TV or calling our family conversations that might shame potential queerness\u201d
\u201cWe also mentioned not accidentally policing things so as to shame him - for instance, often out of a sense of protection and love parents can frown on a child\u2019s behaviour or outfit because they\u2019re worried for their safety when on a night out etc.\u201d
\u201cBut we stressed that if this was their feeling it\u2019s important to vocalise this exactly, rather than leaving the child ruminating over the parent\u2019s intentions and second guessing why they said what they said\u201d
\u201cSo in terms of advice to friends or relatives of a potentially queer person, what would fellow queers advise is the best way to make it known they have their love and support without causing an uncomfortable conversation that might force someone to come out before they\u2019re ready?\u201d
\u201cFor instance - when I was about 12, my v obviously straight brother and I were watching a soap with my dad and there was a gay kiss on screen. I vividly remember my dad saying if either of us ever thought we were gay that we would still be just as loved by our mum and dad\u201d
\u201cKnowing that nothing would change stuck with me hugely and I remember that convo as if it was yesterday - it was *clearly* said for my benefit but was comfortable enough that it wasn\u2019t a direct exchange and I appreciate my dad so much for this\u201d
\u201cI literally still have shivers thinking about that wonderful man. The difference he\u2019ll make to not just his son\u2019s life but to so many others by having and open mind and a loving heart is unbelievable. There\u2019s hope!! \u2764\ufe0f\u201d
\u201cHe also said that the younger brother (10 y/o) had expressed his disapproval of drag queens he\u2019d seen on TV because it was \u2018weird\u2019, so the dad explained in earshot of the elder son that if that\u2019s how they want to dress and they feel comfortable then that\u2019s great\u201d
\u201cHe\u2019s clearly doing all the right things and is making his son feel as comfortable as he can. Take notes people this is how it\u2019s done!! Particularly given that the boy is growing up far out of a metropolitan city this kind of unconditional love and support is invaluable\u201d
\u201cStill just mulling over this - the dad clearly has no gay people in his life to ask so did his best to ask people with that experience to help make his son\u2019s life and journey though potential queerness as seamless as possible. What a wonderful wonderful man\u201d
\u201cTo warm your hearts even further I just have to say I\u2019ve had over 50 parents / relatives of queer kids reaching out in my DMs to express their support/appreciation for this thread and it is GORGEOUS to know there is so much love for LGBTQ youth in the world today\u201d