by Emmi Doucette
When my 16-year-old daughter came out, she did so in stages. First, we learned that she and her boyfriend of almost a year were no longer together because she “just wasn’t feeling it.” Then a few months later, she said she “kind of liked girls, but still liked to hang out with boys.” A month later, the moment my husband and I knew was coming arrived– she came out as a lesbian. These were happy moments for us; we were joyous that our daughter felt comfortable enough to share this with us, nervous as we tried to understand fully what she was telling us, and grateful, in general, that the openness in our relationship that we had worked so hard for was there.
Having been actively involved in the gay community for many years even before my children were born, I thought I was ready for one of my children to land on any part of the LGBTQIA spectrum. I often joked with them saying “You know, Mummy is really involved in PFLAG in the hopes that one of you will be gay.” (We’re a very snarky family). But when the day actually came, I was surprised at my level of anxiety at hearing the words “I am a lesbian.” I could not understand, after 20 years of working in the gay community and having LGBTQIA friends and family my entire life, why it was suddenly “scary” for me. I checked my anxiety, of course, as my daughter shared with us, but had to do some soul-searching after.
Why was I so afraid? That’s really what I felt—fear. Was I afraid she wouldn’t fit in at school? Not really, as she had been actively involved in Gay-Straight Alliance at her high school for over a year and fit in just fine. Was I afraid she’d never get married? Well, what if she was straight and never married? Was I afraid I’d never have grandchildren? As I had just mailed a “Congratulations on your new baby!” card to two lesbian friends, that wasn’t it either. When I could not find one “real” reason to be afraid, I made a conscious decision to no longer be. I made a conscious decision to recognize the amazing person my daughter is and will be—acknowledging that her sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with that ability to amaze me. Is her sexuality a part of her? Is it a defining part of her? Yes. But it doesn’t define her as a person.
The evolution of our relationship continues. We talk about where she wants to go to college and what she wants to do when she “grows up.” We talk about learning to drive and senior prom. And yes, we talk more often about how attractive Carey Mulligan is than we do Johnny Depp. But all that is just fine.
Emmi Doucette is a painter and obsessive crafter. The mother of a teenage daughter and son, her daughter identifies as a lesbian. Emmi currently serves as the Secretary for PFLAG Brunswick and has been actively involved in the LGBTQIA community for over 20 years. A native of Ohio, she and her husband have lived in Georgia for the last 10 years.
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