When I first decided to have children, I acknowledged that I was getting a grab bag of hurdles that may have to be jumped. I was signing up for a child who would have their own needs and wants. There was a possibility that they would be differently-abled, and I accepted that hurdle. I also accepted that one or more of my children may be on the LGBTQ rainbow.
As my children grew from infants to tweens, I watched their personalities blossom as they became their own people. I stood on the sidelines cheering them on, and sometimes joined them on the track if they needed help.
So while watching my middle daughter grow, I got a feeling. A hunch. I can trace it back to when she was a preschooler. My husband and I both whispered to each other, many times, that we believe she is gay or transgender. We never brought it up to her. We just casually talked about different families, and how some kids have two moms or two dads. We just wanted to make sure that we saw her.
Knowing all of this, there was zero surprise when she approached me on a Saturday morning to whisper to me:
“Mom, I’m gay.”
My knee jerk reaction was to cry. Not out of sadness, but out of joy, because my baby girl was discovering herself and it was beautiful. I sob over silly moments in my children’s childhoods, like school awards, and their faces when they see the ocean. So this far more important moment, of course, brought me to tears.
I knew this was a big moment; one she would hang onto for the rest of her life. So I told her how happy I am for her, and how proud. She spent the rest of the day just glowing, and looking for a fun LGBTQ t-shirt she could buy to express herself.
So here we are. My child is gay, and I am witnessing her blossom but also I recognize that her race, her hurdles, just became much bigger and more powerful. She will face discrimination from being gay. Bullying, violence, being excluded and rejected; these are all now enemies she will have to face. LGBTQ youth have a suicide rate five times that of a heterosexual youth. As a parent, that breaks my heart.
But, as a momma bear, a fighter and warrior, I am aware of what I must do — because I signed up for this, remember? So I will be who she needs me to be. I will be her voice when she has none. I will advocate for her happiness. I will give her opportunities to express herself and I will nurture her growth, as I’ve always done. But, if anyone harms her, I will be throwing hands.
Part of my responsibility is to be her voice. One day, she will grow into a confident lesbian with a loud and proud voice. But as of now, she is only ten years old and she has a lot to learn. So as her voice, I will speak in her honor. Now that I have revealed to you that my ten-year-old is gay, there are some things you should know.
This isn’t new.
While this may sound like breaking news to you, it is old news to us. She told me her first lesbian crush was in the third grade. I have been there for every step of her life, so I have thought her to be located on the LGBTQ rainbow somewhere, long before she knew herself. This may seem like a new situation, but rather, it is a long-held reality with a new name.
She isn’t too young.
My first “boyfriend” was in the first grade. He kissed my cheek and I was convinced I was pregnant for like six months. My first crush was Ray, and he had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. I grew giggly in the presence of boys and I wrote their names on my notebook imagining what my name would look like if we got married.
She has these experiences, except with girls. She has a classroom crush on girls, she giggles around girls, she dreams of marrying girls. So I ask you, how old were you when you began to grow shy and giddy around boys? Seven? Eight? Well, she is almost 11.
It may change.
I have heard from heterosexuals that she “may change” in the future, and I agree. Things may change. But she is most likely not going to fall off the rainbow. If anything, she will explore all the colors. Her gender is a little mysterious, but that is her own discovery to make. For now, she identifies as lesbian. But she has more discovering to do.
It’s not a phase.
Like all kids, she goes through phases over little childhood things: binge watching an anime, or her current love of panda bears. Those phases go in and out, and the evidence is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedspread that she has now grown to hate.
Her being on the LGBTQ rainbow is not a phase. My first words to her when she was born were “I love you and I will always be there for you.” So I have always been there for her, and I can very much assure you that her sexuality and the way she carries herself is not a phase.
But for a few minutes, just to humor you, let’s pretend like it’s just a phase. So? She is discovering who she is and isn’t so this is all a process. Bottom line: above all else, her mental health is of the utmost importance — so our family’s response must be positive. LGBTQ kids have an astonishingly high suicide rate if they are rejected by their family. So wouldn’t you agree that we should welcome her, in all her gayness, to prevent her from ending it all due to rejection? Even if it were “a phase” (it’s not), the safest thing to do is to be supportive and warm. The threat of suicide is major.
I will fight you.
My little girl is just starting to blossom into an adult and I love it. But time and again I see articles of LGBTQ people being harassed, attacked and even murdered. So I issue you a warning: If you mistreat my daughter, you will have to answer to me. If you lay a finger on her, this LGBTQ momma bear will seek vengeance in the highest degree.
So now that I’ve told you about my daughter, I am asking for your help. Help me protect LGBTQ kids. Fight homophobia, accept the children as they are and be their voice for them when necessary. Can you imagine a world where no LGBTQ kid is rejected? That’s the kind of world that I hope my daughter experiences. Even so, I know that there will be blood, sweat, and tears in this new journey, and I am ready to fight to the death for my lesbian daughter.