Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are some common questions that we hear over and over from moms of lgbtq kids and one of those questions goes like this:
Should I tell my friend that my son is gay? my daughter is lesbian? my child is transgender?
Like many questions, there may not be one answer that is right for everyone, but, there is some conventional wisdom that can be very helpful as parents think through their own unique situations.
Because we live in a world where lgbtq people are still oppressed and marginalized, because we live in a world where lgbtq people are often bullied, because we live in a world where lgbtq people are known to be treated like second class citizens, because we live in a world where lgbtq people still receive the message that they are broken and need to be fixed due to their lgbtq status, because we live in a world where lgbtq people still don’t have equal rights and protections, parents need to be extra thoughtful, considerate and careful about who they talk to about their child’s lgbtq status until their children (no matter the age) are completely out.
My advice is:
Always check with your child if they are not completely out before sharing their lgbtq status with someone.
If a child is too young to be able to consider all the factors parents will have to make the decision independently of their children.
The younger the child the more careful parents may want to be about revealing their child’s lgbtq status to others.
When your child is not completely out it is important to consider how well you know the people you want to confide in and how trustworthy you believe them to be.
Once your child is an adult and completely out you can decide for yourself who to tell.
I often hear people say it’s not necessary to tell anyone because it is no one’s business but I don’t think that is the issue here. I think the issue is more complex than that.
Let me explain …
I have two kids – one straight and one gay. Over the years I have talked to other moms about who my straight son dated – something in a relationship that hurt him – who he had a crush on – who had a crush on him – who he wanted to go to prom with and other similar things. These were his business but they were things that were going on with my son at the time – they were things on my mind and on my heart because my son was on my mind and on my heart – sometimes I talked to other moms about these things because I was concerned and wanted to know how to best support my son, sometimes I talked to other moms because I was excited for my son, sometimes I talked about something because I thought it was cute and moms often share cute little things about their kids with one another. I’m pretty sure if I had asked my straight son if I could talk about any of these things with other moms he would have probably said no.
There are also other “personal and private” things parents talk to other parents about for regularly – a medical issue, a behavior issue, a problem with a friend, a problem at school – things our kids wouldn’t have want us to share with anyone else. We don’t talk about such things to violate their privacy – but because we are seeking wisdom, insight, support, and/or encouragement.
My point is that we often talk to other moms about confidential and private things about our kids. It is a normal part of parenting – probably even more normal for mothers than dads because women often tend to process verbally and it helps them to talk about stuff they care about and are dealing with – it helps moms be better moms to share their situations with one another and learn with one another and from one another – it helps moms be stronger and steadier, and more loving, kind and patient when they can get some things off of their chest and say them out loud to another mom … because motherhood is a significant bond that mothers share and it really does take a village to raise a child.
It’s hard to be a good, smart, capable mom without depending on other moms, without having the freedom to share with and talk to other moms about things on our minds about our kids. And trying to keep our kid’s sexual orientation a secret can limit us when it comes to having these normal interactions and those limitations can make being a mom a LOT more challenging and even limit our knowledge, wisdom and effectiveness when it comes to being a mom.
So, I see being able to talk about my gay son with the same amount of freedom that I talk about my straight son as progress.
Sometimes I hear people say they look forward to the day when they don’t need to tell anyone their kid is lgbtq – but I don’t see that as progress.
Instead, I look forward to the day when all of us can openly speak of our child’s lgbtq status and not have to worry about it. I look forward to it being as normal to say “my son is gay” as it is to say “my son is left handed” or “my son has blue eyes” or “my son is an introvert”
When I hear people say “being gay doesn’t define my child” or “my child is more than his sexual orientation or gender identity” or “I don’t have to tell anyone my straight kid is straight so why should I have to tell them my gay son is gay” I hear defensive remarks that are a response to the kind of world we live in. Those remarks remind me that I look forward to the day when we don’t have to say anything like that or think anything like that.
After all, the only reason we don’t have to tell anyone our straight kid is straight is because we live in a world where being straight has been the default. We don’t have to tell anyone our straight kid is straight because we have been living in a world where anything other than straight has been erased, pushed to the margins, kept hidden. If nothing is said people assume that someone is straight and that can feel like erasure and disregard to lgbtq people.
Of course, people are more than their sexual orientation or gender identity, and, of course, there are many things that define us as human beings. But, our sexual orientation and gender identity are important elements of who we are. They are elements of ourselves that can impact our opinions and perspectives, how we engage with the world around us, what we are interested in, our comfort zones. Our sexual orientation and gender identity exist in the core of who we are. I would argue they are more important than many other things that we readily admit define us. I would argue that our sexual orientation and gender identity are among the few things that are central to who we are.
This is the time of year when lgbtq people and those who stand with them and support them are preparing to participate in Pride parades and celebrations.
Pride parades and celebrations are a response to a world that wants to erase the existence of lgbtq people, a world that wants lgbtq people to keep quiet about their lgbtq status, a world that wants lgbtq people to hide their status, a world that wants to diminish the significance of being lgbtq.
It’s very common for conservative Christians who support conversion therapy to tell lgbt people that they should not think of themselves as “being gay” – they often use phrases such as “attracted to someone of the same sex” or “struggling with same sex attraction”
That way of thinking and speaking is rooted in shame. The idea that people should not identify as lgbtq or make it a main part of their identity are ideas that have grown out of anti-lgbtq belief systems. They are ideas that cause lgbtq people to feel shame and self loathing regarding their lgbtq status.
Pride parades are a protest against those kinds of ideas.
Pride parades are lgbt people saying “I am gay, I am proud of it, it is a part of who I am, it is an important part of who I am, I am not going to be ashamed about it, it matters, I am not going to hide it, I am not going to apologize about it, I am going to declare it, I am going to say it out loud, I am going to own it, I am going to flaunt it, it is a big part of who I am.”
As beautiful as I think that is – to see lgbtq people let go and fully embrace their sexual orientation and gender identity with no apology, with no downplaying, with no shame – I look forward to the day when Pride parades are no longer necessary, I look forward when it will be normal for people to share they are lgbtq, when it will be normal for parents to share that their kid is lgbtq, but no longer necessary to have a parade about it, no longer necessary for us to be careful about who we tell …
But, for now we DO live in a world where Pride parades are necessary.
For now, we DO live in a world where we have to worry about people’s reactions towards our lgbt children.
There is still a lot of work to do and the work that needs to be done will surely not be completed in our lifetime.
So – we have to be careful and thoughtful – especially if our kid is not completely out.
Moms share confidential things and stuff that is no one else’s business all the time when they are close with each other – it is normal and good and helpful.
But, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are still oppressed and marginalized, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are often bullied, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are often treated like second class citizens, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people still receive the message that they are broken and need to be fixed, we have to be extra thoughtful, considerate and careful about who we talk to about our kids lgbtq status until they are completely out.
Not because it isn’t anyone’s business – but because we still live in a world where it isn’t always safe to be lgbtq.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,400 members. For more info email email@example.com