by Beck Paterson

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Many people (parents included!) are unsure of what to say around queer couples, and end up accidentally blurting out offensive and insensitive remarks. Even if you’re well-intentioned, some of these comments can create a sense of othering and alienation for your kid, putting them and their relationships on the spot.
To make things a little easier, here’s a handy list of things not to say around your queerly coupled kid:
1. “If she looks like a man, why wouldn’t you just date a man?”
Gender and sexual identities exist on a spectrum. They’re messy and complicated, and sometimes—most times, actually—these identities don’t fit into neat and tidy boxes. Just because someone identifies as a cisgender female and a lesbian doesn’t mean she can’t present a more masculine gender expression. It doesn’t make her any less of a woman if that’s how she identifies, and it certainly does not make her interchangeable with a male-identifying person!
2. “This is Taylor’s friend.”
Introducing your kid’s partner as anything other than their partner when you know that they refer to themselves that way is just not cool. It devalues their relationship and it shows that you don’t fully accept and/or support that they’re a couple.
3. “Don’t you want children? How are you going to have kids?!”
Maybe we do and maybe we don’t. That is for us to decide. The ultimate goal of every relationship isn’t to procreate, and for some couples—cisgender heterosexual couples included—having children just isn’t part of the plan. If we do decide we want kids, though, there are many options for queer procreation!
4. “How do you have sex?”
Amazingly well, if we’re into sex. We happily don’t if we’re not.
Look, what happens in the bedroom is for us. Sex means something different to everyone (cisgender, heterosexual couples, too!). If we’re happy and responsible with the sex we’re having (or not having), that’s all that matters.
5. “I think it’s amazing what you’re doing!”
You think it’s amazing that we’re going out for coffee or holding hands at the movie theatre? Cool, I guess. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the support is appreciated, but when comments like these are unsolicited and out-of-the-blue—even from a parent—it can be jarring and uncomfortable. Would you think a heterosexual couple doing coupley things together in public is “amazing”? I doubt it. So what’s the difference for us?
While activism is a huge part of the identity for many queer individuals, that isn’t the case for everyone, and the very existence of queer couples isn’t a political statement. It’s two (or maybe more—polygamy and polyamory are cool, too!) people who love, support, and care for each other, just like you’d expect from anyone.

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Beck Paterson just finished their Honours English degree at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. They look forward to getting into a Social Work program and working to make lives better. Now that they aren’t in school, Beck spends their time reading comics and marathoning 90s TV shows on Netflix. They also enjoy naps. If you’re so inclined, you can visit their website at www.beckpaterson.ca

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