I am a big believer in live and let live. This belief was never stronger than when my youngest daughter came out to me as Pansexual. I won’t claim to know a great deal about The LGBTQIA community, but I wanted to learn more so I could show love and support for my daughter.
As a mother, I want my daughter to feel that she can express herself freely and know that my love will never fade because of something that is biologically part of her. It breaks my heart that there are people out there who are throwing their children out of their lives because of their sexual orientation. A parent should love their child unconditionally. Yet, opening up about sexuality can cause misunderstanding and even hatred in some families and many young people fear discussing this with their parents.
The day my daughter told me, she had tears in her eyes and sat facing away from me unable to look in my eyes. She said, “Mama, I have something I want to tell you, but I’m afraid you won’t love me anymore.” I remember telling her that there wasn’t anything that she could do or say to make me stop loving her. She then whispered, “Mama, I’m pansexual . Do you know what that means?” I admitted I didn’t know the exact definition. She explained it to me, and I told her that I didn’t care who she loved as long as the person she is with is good to her. That’s all I cared about.
Since that day, we’ve talked many times. I’ve learned many things about sexuality and my daughter. LGBTQIA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. Being pansexual, meant that she was not attracted to people of just one sex, but rather felt attraction to the person and their gender did not matter. I decided to interview her to write an article in the hope that other parents will be inspired to be better listeners to their own children when it comes to discussing sexuality.
(For the purpose of privacy my daughter will be referred to as Smiley.)
How did you know you were Pansexual?
Smiley: I was just thinking about do I like guys? Do I like girls? I had never thought about it before, and I realized I didn’t care if they were a guy or girl. I just felt as long as we loved each other it wouldn’t matter what gender we were.
As a member of the LGBTQIA community what is your biggest fear?
Smiley: I fear people gay bashing me or someone else. Whether it’s being called names or whether it’s physical violence. The idea is terrifying.
I do fear for her safety especially in light of how things have been going recently. I hope that she would come to me for help if she experienced bullying or hurtful behaviors from her peers. All children who are exploring identity need to have someone they can trust.
What is something you wish more people understood about the LGBTQIA community?
Smiley: That it isn’t a choice. You don’t get to decide.
I also reflected on this. I don’t ever remember sitting down and deciding what I wanted my sexual orientation to be. I just am what I am. I can’t imagine anyone ever deciding what gender(s) they’d love.
What was the most frightening part of telling family members?
Smiley: The fact that rejection is a possibility. Being rejected by someone I care about would be very scary.
I wasn’t really concerned about my parents/ Smiley’s grandparents reactions to her sexuality. There are a few people I do worry about in our community that could cause her harm, but I hope that having a strong family circle will help her feel safe to express herself. She needs to know that she can always depend on our family to support her.
How did you feel when you heard Trump won the election and why?
Smiley: Terrified. Because all the hating he does and how he’s going to change the laws. I’m afraid of what he’ll do to make it legal to discriminate against us. It seems if you’re not like him and don’t believe the way he does, he’s going to do something to make things horrible for you.
I am also scared of what laws could get passed that might take away the rights of LGBTQIA individuals. I will work hard to promote laws that diminish hate and discrimination. Exploring a website like http://www.hrc.org/ (American Human Rights Campaign) can help a parent learn more so they can keep the conversation going with their child and work for positive change in the world.
What do you think about conversion therapy?
Smiley: It’s fucking terrible. You can’t change how people were born. Sexuality is not a choice. People should not force others to conform to their idea of “normal.” Some parents can’t handle discussing this with their children and they just trying to change them because they are embarrassed. That just makes you a horrible person.
I don’t understand what people sending their kids to these places really think they’re achieving. I would think they’re only hurting their children not helping them. How would they feel if someone sent them off to be “fixed”? Children who are LGBTQIA aren’t broken. However, I believe that there are some parents who need some fixing!
What do you want your parents to know or change?
Smiley: It’s not really my parents who bug me. They’re both accepting. I wish all parents could accept their child for who they are. If a young person is old enough to understand how they feel and what it means, then they need to be left alone. As a parent you should love and accept your child and stand up and defend them for who they are.
As her mother, I love her unconditionally. I am lucky that my daughter feels comfortable to discuss this with me. I’m proud that she is being true to herself and being who she really is. That’s all I’ve ever asked her to do is be her authentic self and all I ever want for my children is for them to be happy. I will never claim to be a perfect parent, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. I do know that the love I have for my kids will never change no matter how they express themselves. My job as a mom isn’t to decide who my child can or should love. My job is to teach her to be safe, healthy and how to be accept herself and her body. No one should ever be made to feel ashamed of their sexuality.
I am a mother.
I have one daughter who is heterosexual and a daughter who is pansexual. I love both of them equally. Their sexuality isn’t a factor in my love for them. They’re both intelligent , creative, funny, loving and beautiful young ladies.
I love them unconditionally and always will.