This is probably the most frightening piece that I’ve ever written but, for the sake of every LGBTQIA+ child out there, I’m here to say: I’m queer. It’s not a phase. It’s not a rebellion. It’s my identity and one that I am proud of. While I’m technically bisexual, I choose to use the word ‘queer’ because it’s all-encompassing, and I find it to be the perfect word to describe my quirky, offbeat personality.
My story is unique and, hopefully, one that will inspire you to love and accept your kids, no matter who they are. I came out of the closet at the not-so-tender age of 30. In relation to the Gen-Zs of today, my case is rare. I once sat with a bunch of 12 to 18 year olds who each told me about when they came out. These were high school kids who understood their identity – I was blown away.
I grew up feeling like a circle living in a world of squares
It got me thinking: it’s all about having the language. When I was growing up, I didn’t know what it meant to be bisexual. There was gay and straight, and a heteronormative life was the ideal we all strived for. If a girl who liked boys kissed girls, then they were going through a phase.
I always felt like a circle living in a world of squares but, at the same time, I was feminine and I liked boys, so I was destined to live my then-perception of an ‘ideal life’. As society progresses, so does our understanding of sexuality and gender identity. In the olden days, we had a lesbian and gay community, and then it became LGBT. Today we have LGBTQIA+. These words, which never existed when I was growing up, now give many of us ‘misfits’ (like me!) a chance to find our true identities.
How I’m raising my daughter
While this may be considered controversial, I don’t shy away from teaching my daughter about queer identity. Growing up with her mom in theatre, she took her first steps at the Madame Zingara tent surrounded by people from all walks of life, including gorgeous drag queens. She also has non-binary people in her life, so asking people for their preferred pronoun has become natural.
I didn’t come out to my daughter. The concept of ‘coming out’ was developed because of the general lack of acceptance of homosexuality. Instead, I’ve taught her that boys can like boys, girls can like girls, boys can like boys and girls, etc. And she knows her mom likes boys and girls.
If we don’t make a big deal out of it, then it’s not. She must be whomever she wants to be and love whomever she loves. I will support her whatever her identity may be. And no, I’m not pushing my child to be gay, I’m simply letting her know that it’s okay for her to be whoever she is; I’ll love her just the same.
Instead, I’m eradicating that stressful fear of coming out and the fear of not being accepted should she turn out to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Why did I come out as bisexual at 30?
At 30, I was happily married to my husband. I’m now separated and dating a man. I never came out to date the girl next door. By this, I mean the classic story of a woman or man leaving their spouse for someone of the same sex. It’s not that I haven’t or wouldn’t date women but it wasn’t my primary reason for coming out. I wanted to be open about my true identity and navigate through the community I belong to.
I realised I was queer when I was in my 20s, and I was honest about it with my husband, but I never had the guts to tell the world. After a recent head injury and a grueling recovery, I realised that life was simply too short and it changed everything for me. I learned to walk again and, with that, I found a strength that I never knew I had. Through coming out, I found peace and I found a home. I don’t need to kiss girls daily to know my sexual identity. The queer community has embraced me and I now know where I belong.
Why is LGBTQIA+ language important?
By teaching your kids queer language, you’re helping to prevent your child from becoming a bully. They’re going to come across LGBTQIA+ people as they navigate life, or may even be queer themselves. Firstly, you don’t want the experience of finding their queer identity to come with fear and self-hate. If we love, accept, and embrace our kids for whoever they are, they will never need to ‘come out’; they will never need to feel lost. Instead, they will feel loved and accepted and ready to conquer a world full of hate.
Being LGBTQIA+ is only difficult because of the prejudice that exists in the world. Therefore, if they’re heterosexual but meet LGBTQIA+ people, a lack of understanding or fear leads to prejudice, something the community fights every day. It’s also up to us, as parents, to stop the bullying of LGBTQIA+ kids in schools and prevent the hate crimes that so many endure. We can do so by raising tolerant kids.
My life now
I didn’t come out to leave my husband for a woman. Nor did I come out to upset or hurt anyone around me. Instead, I came out to live my truth, embrace my identity, and make friends in the community where I belong.
I came out so that I no longer feel like a circle living in a world of squares. Now, I’m a circle surrounded by all the shapes in the world. And it’s a beautiful place to be. Love, acceptance, and tolerance are all the world needs to become a slightly better place.