About Me & About My Kid
I am the mother of an amazing 10-year-old girl who has come out as a lesbian.
My daughter first told me she was gay in the fall of 2008 when we were still living in California. She was seven years old and we were living with Prop 8 being debated on the streets, in homes, on TV, and in the voting booth. My daughter even brought the fight for marriage equality to the elementary school playground.
So, our story beings with Prop 8.
One morning everything was quiet in our neighborhood. The next day, everything had changed. What we’d heard on the television about Prop 8 being decided on the ballot, was now being argued on our street corners, in our neighbors’ windows, and on bumper stickers on the backs of minivans.
We had to walk past protestors on street corners holding signs with statements about how gay marriage would curtail the rights of parents and threaten religious freedom. All this at 7:30 am on our way to school. My daughter was in second grade at the time.
My daughter’s response was to make her own signs and ask if we could protest too. We, along with a number of our neighbors, took our signs to our street corner. We stood there through the rush hour traffic. My kid asked the motorists and bicyclists stopped at the intersection to “please vote no on Prop 8.” She was actually given the finger and denounced by people. (Someday I will send the LDS church a letter thanking them for radicalizing my daughter and providing her with a compelling reason to come out.)
She wanted to fight for her own right to marry, for our friends’ right to marry, and for her friend’s moms’ right.
To be sure, it was a proud moment for our family as we stood together with our neighbors and friends.
This year, at 10 years old, she’s decided to come out to everyone. Her decision to go public is the impetus for me to begin this blog. There are too few resources for children, parents, families, and schools that want to support and nurture very young Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) children.
At this point we are fortunate to live in a world where teenagers come out in high school more often than ever before and some high schools even have Gay Straight Alliances (GSA). This doesn’t make coming out for teenagers easy or safe, but it means that more resources are available to more kids. Yet, there is nothing in elementary schools with which queer or gender queer children can positively identify.
While there are dozens of books and websites for the parents of LGBT teens and adults, there is next to nothing for younger children and their families. The discussions about how to embrace and nurture our LGBT and Questioning children must be happening, but it seems limited and fragmented.
The public schools still operate under the notion that being straight is simply the way all children are–princesses dream about marrying their prince. In my home my princess dreams about marrying her princess. Or at least taking her to the high school prom.
I want to share our family’s journey, my own reflections and struggles as a mom, because there must be more families like ours out there. I want to nurture my queer kid and help make a safer and more egalitarian world for her and other kids like her.
We now live in the suburbs of a southern city in a conservative Bible Belt state. I tell myself that Berkeley (California) and Park Slope (Brooklyn, New York) are already pretty inclusive, so the work that needs to be done, needs to be done right here. This is a little scary to me, but there may be no greater courage than courage fueled by the preservative love of a parent for their child.*
This blog assumes and promotes the following beliefs.
- Readers are comfortable with and embrace their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, whatever it is.
- No one makes another person gay, lesbian, transgendered, heterosexual, etc. People are different. It isn’t a problem or anyone’s fault. Some kids are straight, some are gay, and some are trans; it’s just reality.
- Children who identify as queer are no more or less romantically or physically interested in engaging in relationships than not-queer kids. Announcing one’s sexual identity and acting on it by kissing someone are two VERY DIFFERENT things.
- We applaud and celebrate kids who come out as queer or transgendered because they have figured out something important about themselves, something that many people don’t figure out until they are much older.
- We cheer on LGBT kids because knowing that you are queer/transgendered and sharing it with the often hostile world is REALLY, REALLY scary and they are being very brave.
- Sexual identity (who gives you butterflies in your tummy) and gender identity (are you happy being “a boy,” “a girl,” masculine, feminine, both, neither, . . .) are different.
- Many people recognize their sexual and gender identities at a very young age. Parents chuckle that four-year-old Emma likes four-year-old Jack and say she’s going to marry him when she grows up. Yet many parents fail to find it cute when little Emma wants to marry Gianna, or Emma wants to be Jack.
- Lots of queer kids know who they like or would like to be, but don’t have the concepts or language to describe who they are.
- It is important to give children the language and confidence to articulate who they are as they grow up. No child should be labeled with the concepts and language of prejudice and hatred before they learn the concepts and language of identity and pride.
- A parent is someone who loves, nurtures, and supports a child. Parenthood is not simply defined by blood, genetics, living in the same home, legal documents, etc. For young children caregivers and family members must be stalwart advocates and protectors because LGBT children can be especially vulnerable and alone in our society.
*Please know I am being purposely vague about our identities and location because it is my daughter’s right to choose when and if she wants to come out to the entire world. Clearly this is complicated by the fact that she is so young. Since she is so young I have to discuss her identity and our family’s commitment to her and her rights with people like her principal or her teachers to make sure she is in a nurturing and safe environment. I cannot, will not abandon her to negotiate the world alone until she is ready and able to do it.