by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, co-founders of The Parents Project
When your child first comes out to you, you may feel taken by surprise, or confused by what it all means. In those initial days, weeks, or months after your child has come out, you may find yourself placing blame on things or people around you. And, while being confused and seeking out answers makes a lot of sense (this is probably very unfamiliar territory), placing blame, is a dangerous, and always inaccurate game. Your child is your child. No singular person, activity, or occurrence can “turn” another person gay.
So, without further ado, here are seven things that most certainly did not (and cannot) turn your child gay:
1. Their Friends. We know, we know. You kid started hanging out with some different people and that coincided with them coming out to you as gay… so by scientific principle it must be the fault of those other kids. First problem here: this isn’t the “fault” of anyone, because there isn’t anything wrong with your kid discovering a part of their identity. Second problem here: Kids don’t turn other kids gay. Suuuure, maybe kids make-out with each other, and perhaps that making-out led your kid to realize something about themselves… but your kid being attracted to a particular gender of person isn’t something they can be “tricked” into. We promise.
2. Playing Sports. No amount of throwing a softball, kicking a soccer ball, catching a rugby (what happens in rugby, honestly??), swimming a lap, or riding a horse can determine someone’s sexuality… That’s not how it works. You might be confusing gender roles with sexual attraction, which, it’s important to note, are two very different things. Easiest example: Do you think that if you suddenly began playing a sport all the time (or stopped playing a sport suddenly), that your desire for a particular gender would be affected?? That isn’t how brains (or bodies) work — we desire who we desire, regardless of if we are good at throwing a football or not!
3. Television Shows. Noooooope. Nope. Listen. Watching Glee doesn’t mean that you immediately run into the arms of the nearest gay person, forgetting everything about your previous desires and attractions. Television shows that are inclusive of LGBTQ characters allow young people who are already struggling with their identity to get a glimpse of themselves in a way that affirms that identity. Seeing more LGBTQ characters in mainstream media means that your gay kid may be able to feel stronger and more stable in expressing themselves. That’s always a good thing.
4. Musical Theatre. Come on, now. THOSE SONGS ARE JUST CATCHY.
5. School. Does your kid goes to a school that proudly houses a Gay Straight Alliance, Safe Space Stickers, and an open dialogue? Well, then you should consider yourself incredibly lucky. Those resources allow kids to find friends and teachers who they know will support them, no matter who they are. In a sea of people who might be telling them otherwise, support is vital. PS: If an open, accepting school environment turned kids gay… wouldn’t every kid in the school be gay? Just saying.
6. Clothing. Allowing your kid to dress in a way that makes them comfortable, once again, does not suddenly trigger their attraction to particular human beings. Your kid dressing in a way that makes them feel comfortable makes their self-confidence go up, allows them to interact with others in a more honest way, and helps them figure out the intricacies and nuances of what makes them, them.
7. You. Your child is going to fall in love wherever their heart leads them, and connect with other human beings based on their own desires. It really is as simple as that, and there isn’t any way that you can change the course of how they identify, or who they love. Your influence on their life, as a parent, is one that shows them how to respect those around them, how to show love and support, and how to be a responsible, honest, and caring person. How they use those values to impact the world around them should be your number one concern. The gender of the person or people that they choose to journey with along they way is irrelevant to their (and your) ultimate happiness.
Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.