Talking with our kids about sex is not an easy thing to do. Trying to figure out how to give them the facts, without feeling like we are giving them consent to act on those impulses can be downright awkward. I know it is for me. However, for many parents “the talk” is no longer just about the feelings their child may have for the opposite sex, because many of those talks now include discussions about same-sex interaction as well. Chalk it up to the interesting times we live in.
Recently, Cynthia Bailey, of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame made a comment regarding her daughter’s sexual orientation that caught a lot of people by surprise. She was concerned her daughter might be interested in girls and was relieved to find out she was only interested in boys. Our daughters are about the same age and I could totally relate to Cynthia on this one. Like her, it somehow feels easier to deal with my daughter being interested in boys than having to deal with her liking girls. Mainly because liking boys as a teenager is a challenge I’ve faced before and I feel prepared to help walk her through it. But, of course, there’s more to it than that.
I communicate with my daughter regularly and during our “talks” she’s shared she’s only interested in boys, but doesn’t like anyone particular right now. Like Cynthia, I felt a sense of relief. But I had to wonder, what if she had answered differently? What would I do if she were gay?
First, let me say, I would love my children no less if they were gay. For me, their sexual orientation would be the most minor detail about their identity, but I know the world does not feel the same way and it would a be a hard road to travel. I see the legal struggles gay people are going through–not to mention the hate–and the thought of someone considering my children sub-human or sub-American would make me irate. I am the type of mother who wants my children to live the easiest life possible. I don’t need anyone to tell me that it is irrational, because I already know that. It’s something that comes straight out of my emotions. I’ve been around long enough to know that nothing about life is easy, and they’ll have to face life’s challenges like everybody else. However, the protector in me wants to protect my girls from every slight and every harm, even though I know I can’t.
For this reason, the first thing I’d do is tell her she has to own it. She’d have to own her decision to live an openly gay lifestyle and that would mean not dwelling in feelings of self-loathing or inadequacy. If she can find the courage to tell me, then that means she has the courage she’ll need to face the world and I would expect her to do it proudly. I wouldn’t want her to doubt herself just because of her sexual orientation.
Secondly, even if my daughter were gay, I would still stress safety and precaution as I have done in the past. While being gay would eliminate the risk of pregnancy, it still would not eliminate certain other risk factors and I’d want her to be aware of that.
Most importantly, I would want my daughter to know that despite worrying about how difficult things might be for her out there in the world, I still accept and love her just as she is. I’d want her to know that even though I might not always understand or identify, with me, she will always be in a judgment-free zone. Just because I’d like to see her go in a different direction, doesn’t mean I would withhold my acceptance.
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not people are born gay, or if they choose to be gay. I am not a biologist or theologian, so I don’t know a lot, but I know enough to say this: we don’t get to choose to “be” anything. We just are who we are and that’s all there is to it. Our only choice is in how we choose to live and what we choose to reveal to others about our truest selves. If my daughter were to reveal she was gay, I’d embrace and love her just the same. However, as her mother, I’d be relieved if she weren’t. Why? Because she already has enough of the world’s weight on her shoulders. She doesn’t need anymore.
How would you handle it if you’re kid revealed they were gay?