What would you say if your child told you that he or she were gay?
Let me rephrase that.
What will you say when your child tells you that he or she is gay?
It’s not that unlikely. Current research indicates that approximately 10 percent of the population is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Being gay oneself doesn’t predispose one to have gay kids, any more than being heterosexual means that you will have only heterosexual kids. Most gay kids come from exclusively hetero homes.
My daughter told me she was gay when she was 15. I was surprised, mostly because she’d had all the usual teenage crushes on male movie-star idols. Maybe I should have been tipped off because they were the ones with long, flowing hair and beautiful faces — Orlando Bloom as Legolas in “Lord of the Rings,” for example.
But I was neither horrified nor upset; she’s my daughter and I love her, period. She’s a smart, thoughtful girl, caring and careless, impulsive and cautious, sloppy and precise — in short, a normal and outrageous teenager.
I’m proud of her and can’t wait to see how she does in college, what she’s going to do with her many talents, and who she’ll learn to love. Exactly how she chooses to love that person, or what that person’s gender is, is none of my business and not under my control.
The parent of a gay child can lose that child in many ways. Matthew Shepard, a gay man, was beaten to death by homophobes. That’s the worst way to lose a child.
But parents who reject their child’s sexual orientation will also lose him or her. You don’t have to kick your child out of the house and refuse to see her, to lose her. She doesn’t have to run away from an unloving home or commit suicide (the suicide rate among gay teens is far higher than among straight ones) for you to lose her.
If you react to your child with shock, rage, disappointment, moral judgment or coldness when she tells you she’s gay, she may never bring it up again — but she won’t stop being gay. And she won’t tell you who she loves, or what is in her heart, and eventually she’ll stop telling you what’s real and true in her life.
If she takes your message to heart and hates herself for being gay, she’ll lose herself — and you, too, will have lost her.
I worry that my daughter will be discriminated against in housing, jobs and socially by people who think she’s a freak or strange. I worry that the government that she pays taxes to, that rules the country that she’s a citizen of, will make more laws that restrict her rights — or will fail to make laws that protect her. I fear that bigotry and ignorance will warp her life and take her away from me. If these things sent her only to Canada, where civilization seems to be more advanced than it is in this country, I would be grateful. I’d often be able to visit her there.
No matter where my daughter ends up, she’ll know that I love her, and have always loved her, for who she is — and that who she loves is part of her and I love that, too. With all the other fears I have for her, I don’t worry that I will lose her heart. I have hers and she has mine.
Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”
The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 18,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org
This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.