Once upon a time I was a young and confused teenager.
I was afraid of being a lesbian – hated the word for many years actually – and afraid of rejection by my family.
When I did get outed – sprung in a passionate embrace with my first girlfriend at 20 by my mother – it was a very difficult time.
I was angry and hurt and so was she.
My Dad was the calm one. I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled about it but he could see, from his life and work experience that being a lady lover was probably not the worst thing I could be.
My mother took some time to come around.
However, it took me years to see that her reaction to my LGBTI status was more about the other things happening in her life than me being gay.
So many women of her generation get to the adulthood of their children without really knowing anything about who they are and what they want. What are they capable of?
The world equates personhood with work, achievement with money and prestige with status. But many women of my mother’s generation married young, and worked in the home raising children and supporting their husbands.
And at the age I am now – early 40s – ended up with adult children leading their own lives and leaving them behind.
It’s no wonder she broke down after the myriad of issues hit her from all directions – aging and dying parents; a strained marriage; a vague feeling of discontent; and then a lesbian daughter! And she’d probably never even consciously met a lesbian before!
It took my own personal development in my late 20s to really understand that my mother could not have done much more than what she did at the time of my ‘outing’. It was a shock, on top of many other stresses, and it was all too much.
Does that excuse all her bad behaviour? No, it doesn’t. But I was able to forgive her those things she said and did when I had compassion for her situation.
I stood strong and never wavered while she fell apart, but inside it broke me to be so rejected by my mother.
No human can stand this ultimate rejection.
However, I worked through those issues, that pain and eventually, my mother’s situation. I’m glad to say we have a very close and loving relationship now. It took some time, it’s true. Years even, for full acceptance from her.
In the present day, for today’s teenagers, it is highly unlikely that parents of lesbian, gay or bisexual children have not been exposed to the LGBTI community in some way. It may not always be the way the community wants to be recognised – for example, pride marches tend to be represented in mainstream media as tits and arse fests – but it is something.
As the child lesbian now grown up with my own daughter, I cannot imagine rejecting her simply because she has a sexual preference that might be different to mine. It’s highly likely she will be heterosexual. (I’m sorry Queer Nation, I’ve probably failed to raise a gay, as per our secret, world domination agenda requires…)
I would hope that my straight friends, whom I’ve known for many years, would also not be disturbed by their children’s homosexuality, should that eventuate. I would hope that many years exposed to me and my gay and lesbian peers has shown them there is nothing to be feared or ashamed of.
I know there are many, many parents in the world who are still more afraid of what other people will think of them having an LGBTI child, than losing their children.
This is such a travesty. Such an affront to the vocation of parenting that it chills me.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. However, we come together in this lifetime to learn from each other and I know that my daughter tests me regularly – but my love for her never, ever wavers.
If you are a parent of a LGBTI child, do not be afraid. Do not be ashamed.
Your child is strong and beautiful. Your child needs to be stronger than other children to get through this confusing time. Your child needs to be more confident than other kids; tougher skinned.
And your child, your strong and beautiful child, needs your help to do that. Not just your help, but your love and unconditional support. No, I’m not saying do anything different. That’s the point. They are the same as they have always been. It’s not them that has changed, but the knowledge that you have about them.
There is often a joke that goes around that is something like:
Hey Mum and Dad, guess what?
I’m a *insert horrible thing like drug addict, axe murderer or pregnancy here*
Parents react badly.
Just kidding! I’m only gay!
Parents are relieved.
Because really, do you think that your kid being LGBTI is worse than being a drug addict or a murderer? Like, seriously?
As the LGBTI child, you must know that you are going to be OK. It will all be OK.
I can’t say if you will or will not lose your parents in this process BUT…you will need to give them time to adjust. People have kids and with them come expectations. It’s hard not to! So give them a chance, especially if they are some sort of religious type, to adjust to this information. It’s not entirely their fault that the religion has filled their heads with stupid shit about LGBTI people.
However, don’t accept anything less than respect. Violence of any kind is not acceptable. Bullying is not acceptable. Keep safe. There will be hurtful words as things get processed. You might say some too.
Remember that everyone is doing their best, even if their best is shitty, and it might take some time to move forward.
There are many worthy organisations that will help and support both parties through this time. I can only state that getting appropriate help will eventually pay off. And if you feel suicidal, please get assistance urgently. Your life is so full of wonderful potential, and you will get through this time, with or without your family. I won’t say it will be easy, but it will be worth it.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,