Happy Pride Month, ya’ll! I don’t know about you guys, but I am absolutely loving the rainbows everywhere. They are all over my social media feeds and hanging from most of our local stores. This year, I have been even happier to see all the recognition of the different sexualities and genders under that rainbow flag. People are proudly proclaiming their Pan/Demi/Ace/etc. identities, and it is beautiful to see!
I wish I had the courage as well to share my own identities with the world on my personal social medias. It may shock you all to know that this little outspoken blogger is quite the introvert in real life. I was past 30 before I finally allowed myself to acknowledge my bisexuality. It took a few years more before I stopped second guessing myself and fully embraced it. But I have yet to shout it to the heavens for all to hear. My mostly conservative family would not approve, so to keep the peace as much as possible, I keep that part from them.
Sass, on the other hand, thankfully doesn’t feel the need to hide who she is. At 13 yrs old, shortly before her 14th birthday, she casually dropped that she maybe liked boys AND girls. Then a few months later, narrowed that down and dropped boys from the picture all together. And ever since she has embraced her identity wholeheartedly. She wears the Lesbian flag pins her sister made proudly on her school bag. She came out to her friends and their families, all of whom embraced her wholeheartedly as well.
Crumbs is still figuring it out. She is 12 yrs old now, and has not showed any interest one way or another. Which is great for us (what parent wants to think about their babies liking people and dating?) But she has shared that she knows she isn’t straight. She is queer, just currently undefined. And there is no rush for her to define it. She will tell us when she knows. We trust her to figure it out for herself.
So it’s been nice to see all the pride posts this past week. And even nicer still to come across a small handful of posts about coming out. A friend proudly shared their newfound realization of their own sexual identities after coming across some new terms they learned this month. And a few fellow moms shared joys and concerns over their kids coming out. These are the ones that stuck out the most because of my own babies.
The posts themselves were simple: just a mom sharing her worries and asking for support and guidance from others after their child came out to them. A majority of the comments were just that: supportive and full of wonderful affirming guidance. They were the kind of comments you would hope to see. Moms pouring loving into another mom facing a brand new path she hadn’t seen coming.
But then there were some that weren’t so supportive.
“They are still young, they don’t know what they like yet.”
“It’s all over the media right now, it’s practically a fad.”
“It’s cool to be queer/gay/trans/etc. now. They’ll change their mind later.”
“It’s just a phase.”
What the actual… Are we still doing this?
If we do not question or dismiss a child in things pertaining to the straight/cis narrative, why do we question and dismiss them when it’s outside that narrative? We laugh and fawn over elementary kids saying they have a girlfriend/boyfriend, or when they walk around the playground holding hands. But as soon as those same kids hold the hand of their new crush who is the same gender, or they say they feel like their gender and sex do not match, we clutch our pearls and say it’s just a phase. They don’t understand. They couldn’t possibly know their own identities in terms of gender or sexuality.
Churches do the same thing. Kids are called to accept Christ during Sunday School and youth groups and Vacation Bible Camps. But if they share any part of themselves that is outside that straight/cis narrative, they are too young and don’t know what they are saying.
So let’s just clear that up, shall we?
It’s not a phase. It’s not the cool thing to do. They know better than anyone else who they are.
Saying otherwise is damaging. Damaging to your relationship with that child, damaging to their self esteem and image. And damaging to their mental health. Don’t be that person.
Be better. Be there for your kids. Support them. Research has shown that kids who have support are less likely to struggle with mental health issues, and less likely to commit suicide. Supporting your child, believing them when they say they are gay/ace/trans/etc. can be literally life saving. If you need help in finding ways to support your child, check out The Trevor Project. They have so many resources available! The CDC website also has a list of links to several other helpful sources, like GLSEN.
So consider this your Pride Month PSA. Believe your kids when they tell you who they are. Because they absolutely know their own identities, be it gender, sexual, or faith based. They know. So, love them, support them, and believe them.