Consenting Adult

Consenting Adult is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film directed by Gilbert Cates and starring Marlo Thomas and Martin Sheen as parents who must come to terms with their teenage son's coming out. The film is based on the 1975 novel of the same name written by Laura Z. Hobson (who had written Gentleman's Agreement in 1947).


Tess and Ken Lynd have been together for 26 years and share two children. Margie, their oldest, is married to Nate, and recently found out that she is pregnant. The youngest child Jeff is off for college and heads the university's swim team. Jeff has had a strained relationship with his parents, especially his father, with whom he constantly argued over trivial matters. One day, Tess receives a letter from her son asking her to contact him. They meet in his university town, where Jeff tells her that he is homosexual. While Tess applauds his bravery, she has trouble processing the news, and the next day contacts her doctor, Mark Waldo, to inquire about any counseling possibilities to "show Jeff that he is mistaken." She contacts psychiatrist Dr. Daniels in Seattle, who shares her view that homosexuality is an illness. He tells her that 25% of his patients have returned to heterosexuality after sessions with him. Later, she informs Ken about their son's situation, and he bursts into tears.