Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo, Co-founders of My Kid Is Gay
“I certainly don’t feel like I ‘chose’ to fall in love. I did, however, choose to be honest about my feelings. I did choose to work very hard and get to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. I did choose to tell my family about the girl I was living with, because I wanted to share that piece of me with them. ” – Dannielle, 28
Choice is a very tricky word. The word “choice” brings to mind choosing to have a salad over french fries, or choosing to go to the 6 o’clock spin class over the 8 o’clock option. Finding yourself attracted to another human being, or falling in love with another human being, is much more complex than simply “choosing” that love or attraction. Think, for a moment, about how you felt the first time you had feelings for another person in your own life. You certainly did not wake up and think, “today I am going to choose to feel like one million butterflies are flapping around inside of my stomach as soon as I see my new crush.” It just happened. Those feelings are the exact same feelings that people of all sexualities feel. If, when you talk about choice, you are asking if your child made a decision to be gay – then the answer is no, they did not.
There are many different experiences among people who identify as something other than heterosexual. Some feel that they were “born this way,” and that their sexuality has always been a genetic, pre-disposed part of their person. Others feel that they came to understand their sexuality at a later age, and that their experience isn’t simply biological, but also a part of their lived experience. No two people share the exact same relationship to their sexuality, but it is never as black and white as simply making a “choice.”
What’s more, when we ask about ‘choice,’ it often implies that if your childdid have a choice, they would choose to be someone else; they would ‘choose’ to be heterosexual. This would mean that there is something fundamentally wrong or bad about being gay, which simply isn’t the case. Sure, there are some hurdles that exist for those in the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community — but the love that your child is capable of feeling toward other human beings (and feeling in return!) is the exact same regardless of if they are straight, gay, bisexual, or otherwise!
Regardless of if your child feels that they were “born” gay, or that they have a more complex relationship to their sexuality, the most important part of this question is recognizing that, more than anything, your child needs to be able to talk about and explore their identity without feeling like they are doing something wrong. You can, and should, ask them about how they came to understand their sexuality, so that you can better understand their unique, personal experience. What is most important is your support for them as they try to navigate this (and all) pieces of themselves. Try to focus less on the ‘whys’ or ‘hows’ and more on sharing this experience with your child, on learning more about their process, and on understanding that, no matter who they love, they will be a stronger, happier person with your unwavering presence in their life.
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