and was directed to my blog.
Firstly, thank you, on your daughter’s behalf, for being honest. There’s loads of things we find hard to accept from our parents and children, different sexualities – different to that we’d expected for and from them – is just one of them.
Secondly, you’re not alone. Many people find it hard to come to terms with their children’s adult lives, be it about what they do for work (or don’t do for work!), or who they love, or where they live, or how they live.
Thirdly, you probably can accept it you know. You’ve probably accepted loads of things in your life that your own twelve or fourteen-year-old self never expected to accept. You can accept this too.
It’s sad she’s struggling, there are probably many things you can do to help. There are loads of organisations in the UK where I live, and wherever you live, there are bound to be some too. Google parents of gays, or parents of lesbians and gays, or parents of LGBT – I bet you’ll find lots of helpful organisations, blogs, sites.
It’s true, that in some parts of the world being gay is still a crime. It’s true that in some parts of the world that crime is still punishable by death. But it’s also true that things ARE getting better. That in very many places, LGBT people lead utterly free and fine lives. And where that isn’t yet possible, I can assure you, many many of us are working to make it better. Perhaps, if you are scared about your child’s future in a world that isn’t yet free from all homophobia, you might become one of those wonderful activist parents, who campaign on behalf of all of us, and how lucky we are to have them. How lucky I was to have parents who were fine with me – and to have in-laws (who took a long while to come round) and are now great!
Perhaps you’re concerned to do with your faith. You certainly wouldn’t be the first who worries that their child is breaking God’s commandments, but if you’re of the first book then you’ll know there are only Ten Commandments and none of them mention homosexuality, and if you’re of the second book you’ll know Jesus said “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. If you’re Muslim I can assure you, contrary to current Islamaphobic propaganda, I know LGBT gay people who find their faith very liveable alongside their sexuality. And while googling LGBT + faith might bring up some depressing sites, I suspect you’ll also find some great organisations who believe that acknowledging the truth of one’s sexuality is an act of great faith and belief, of honesty to the maker they believe in.
Why else might you find it hard to accept … because the media likes to portray us (lesbians) as boring and man-hating and childless?! I promise you, none of those things are true either. Or they might be true, just as any woman might be boring, or man-hating (I think I know way more man-hating straight women than man-hating gay women though!), and certainly infertility doesn’t only affect lesbians.
Or perhaps you’re worried because your child is struggling. Then you can help her, there will definitely be groups you can find online, perhaps you could even go together. (nb, she may be struggling with thinking she’s gay when she’s actually bisexual, that’s always possible too. Or vice versa. Unlike straight people, gay people are often OK about being a bit more fluid with their sexuality decisions until they get a bit older, though it can be confusing. I wish, for their sake, that straight people were also encouraged to sometimes think it’s ‘just a phase’ and they’d grow out of it, didn’t make their own choices about heterosexuality so early – we might have fewer broken relationships when one or other of a straight couple finally comes out!)
It’s different to you, sure. Any parent might worry when their child ends up different to them. But isn’t that you wanted from raising a child? A strong, smart, bright person, able to make their own choices? To live their own life successfully?
So … be concerned, struggle if you must, worry, hope – that’s what all parents do, all the time. And keep on listening and loving and helping, stay open and engaged, and don’t ever, ever close your door.
It WILL be fine, if you allow it to be.
Good luck to both of you.
ps – if on the very small off-chance you happen to be a gay parent struggling with your daughter’s heterosexuality … sheesh. didn’t coming out teach you anything about being kind and open??!!
Stells. Amazing. Thank you xxx
thank you back xx
This is thorough, compassionate, engaging, wise. I sincerely hope it has encouraged the concerned parent. Thank you for writing it.
Blimey, Stella, this is really lovely.
Thank you for the support, all of you who have replied. I’m sure we all need to be reminded, every now and then, that the life we – I – occasionally take for granted is hard fought for. And worth saving.
Perfectly put, Stella. And important. I hope both parent and daughter soon find a way to work it out without struggling any more.
First of all, it’s truly generous of you to take the time and thought to write so carefully and so kind-heartedly to someone in need. Secondly, I think it’s important for all of us gay girls and guys to honour, respect and be thankful for the courage that our parents have shown (or will eventually show….) in adjusting to something in their child that must initially seem so daunting – making us seem fundamentally so different from the parents who gave us life, and tried hard to teach us how to live it. And thirdly, I truly hope that all of us can feel the pride and gratitude for our parents that is so deserved by them, as they make their small steps along this difficult and challenging path. xxx
Wise words Stell. As a mother of a daughter who came out at 15 I can identify with what the mother was saying. My first reaction was disappointment I guess , disappointment and fear not for me but for her because I knew that the road ahead would sometimes be paved with narrow mindedness and not feeling “normal” . I spent many months crying and worrying about how challenging life will be for her. In retrospect I guess it was part of the process. I now have a 19 year old confident beautiful young woman who is accepted for herself that being gay is what she is. I say accepted because as you say Stell society still has this “meet the handsome prince and live happily ever after” notion, which is ingrained into every girl from a young age so it was about redefining that for her too. She has developed her own philosophy about people who don’t accept who she is or make ridiculous general comments that put down gay people. That philosophy is that it is “so sad for them that they can’t meet people without pre judging them first.” unquote. So to the mum I say Yes it is a struggle at first , but good on you for recognising it. The worst thing you can do is shut her out. My daughter’s coming out opened a whole new door of communication and a bond between us that posssibly may not have developed if she was straight. Take small steps tread softly because she is still trying to figure it all out too.
At the end of the day what I want for my daughter is to be healthy, mentally and emotionally, to be happy in her own skin and to find someone to love who cares for her deeply , whether that be male or female. xx
I can only hope she googles this term again and finds your response. Or that any other parent who is being torn apart so unnecessarily is led here. Such a succinct, warm and compassionate blog. Be careful; you’ll have to stop writing novels and become a full-time Aunty Stella! xx
hah, with 15 nieces & nephews & 20+ great nieces & nephews I already am! but agony aunting would make me very happy too!
Caren – yes, thanking the parents who are kind and generous is really important. I remember when I first came out, thinking I didn’t have to be grateful to my parents for NOT being rubbish, because they were only behaving in the ‘right’ way – by accepting me and being loving to me, they were doing the right thing, so I didn’t need to ‘approve’ of them. As I got older, I realised that was wrong. That whenever any person makes a leap to be better or bigger or stronger than our society expects of them we ought to be grateful. I wish I’d told my Dad how grateful I was before he died (I was 25 when he died so I didn’t quite get round to it, with the innocence of youth who thinks there’s all the time in the world), but my mother certainly knew she was valued and appreciated for herself – as a woman, as a mother, and as the mother of a really very publicly gay daughter!
Sandra – thank you for putting that part of the discussion. I’ve often thought that one of the reasons I had such a good relationship with my Mum was that we’d been forced – by my being gay – to have so many discussions straight children almost never have with their parents. I can see it is scary for parents with LGBT kids when they know how cruel the wider world can be. It’s also, as Caren says above, a huge benefit to have your parents on your side.
ps – am LOVING the responses to this blog – from complete strangers and wonderful old friends! x
Thanks for sharing, because this to me relates to any kind of ‘letting go’ when it comes to your children. My son is not gay, he’s a teenager. A teenager who is doing stuff independent of me, which I knew was going to happen and that I’m grateful has happened (because obviously raising him to be an independent man). But I still have to work at accepting his growing up and being his own person. Ultimately and aside from my own selfish need to keep him as mine, my child, as long as he is happy, healthy and doing well, my job as his parent is a good one. The ‘letting go’ process is different for us all in terms of the life choices we witness our children making, but fundamentally it is all the same in being able to support them and give them our blessings. Reading your article has been a support to me, so thank you. Warmest wishes. Esther
Thank you Esther. All growing is a letting go, isn’t it? Some harder than others …
This is a very well written article, I came out at the age of 35 after 10 yrs of marriage and 2 children! My parents cried and didn’t speak to me for months. They are fine now 10 years on and fully accept my partner and I. reading this has helped me understand how difficult it was for them, I couldn’t help feeling annoyed that they were upset. I am so grateful that it worked out ok in the end and were never openly hostile, but comments like”what a waste” when a gay man came on tv made me acutely aware of their lack of understanding. It just takes time to understand and reassurance that the gay person is happy safe and fulfilled. They are still the same person you have birth to