Both child and parents in the closet

A mother struggles to understand as her family lives with "don't ask, don't tell" silence.

  • Briefly describe how your child first came out to you and your initial reactions.

  • Halloween. My daughter had invited her friends over to watch a horror movie. One of her friends we all knew identified as a lesbian. When I went to check on them if they needed anything, my daughter was sitting with and had her arms around the lesbian friend. I let it go since it was a scary movie and figured I’d ask in the morning. The next morning I confronted her thinking I’d have to tell her she’s mistakingly leading the girl on. But she instead told me that she decided to explore this. I was shocked and tried to wrap my head around it. Called my husband home and the three of us sat for a discussion. She said she had been thinking about it for a few months but that it was probably just a silly notion. We agreed and were relieved as we tried to discuss what would happen next if she pursued this. So she went back in the closet. That lasted a few months until we found out she’d been secretly seeing this other girl. Another confrontation.Heartbreak but No more lies. This has been for a year now. It is still a struggle.

  • What concerns did you experience over the first weeks or months? How did you deal with them?

  • Her friends and her brother. And not well. She had such a hard time making friends growing up but when she did, they were great. I was worried she’d lose them by becoming involved with this new other group which included her now girlfriend. This group was involved with drugs and alcohol. She didn’t want to come out yet so we didn’t tell her brother who was in the same high school with younger siblings of her friends. However after a few months her girlfriend started telling people, so we worried about him finding out. Our daughter swore he didn’t know. And We still haven’t talked to him yet. It’s been a year and my daughter has gone off to college. We believe she’s still seeing her girlfriend but haven’t talked about it. Living the “don’t ask don’t tell” Before she left for school tho she maintained that she still doesn’t want to tell him or immediate family. But holidays are coming, we’ll see.

  • Has your child come out to other family members over time?

  • No

  • What is the hardest thing about knowing their LGBTQ identity?

  • That I don’t know how to parent this. Many issues I’m still grappling with myself so I can’t guide and help her properly. Let alone be a role model for my son. And she sees this. I fear it makes me very vulnerable, and untrustworthy to my own children.

  • What are some challenges have you faced concerning your LGBTQ child? How did you deal with these?

  • My daughter found an interest with another girl who we feel is not a good match for her regardless of any waivering points of view. She is a poor influence with grades, drugs, alcohol and attitude. She does know her girlfriend has issues but we worry that she plays our concerns off too much as a bigotry against lgbtq. That is a challenge. We tried to discuss this with her but she is now 18 and can make her own decisions. Another challenge is that we have noticed how much overwhelming support there is for our daughter which is wonderful, but outside of pamphlets and some internet media, we can scarcely find support for the families struggling with acceptance, coping and maintaining a cohesive home after they’ve come out. It’s like unless your totally ok, the community goes dead. That’s unrealistic. I have been searching now for outlets over a year. Today I called a local community resource program and they gave me your website. Very glad for that. Our Pflag chapter is very small and doesn’t meet often so we are trying to find other resources to connect parents as I know there are so many of us out there. We also see a therapist and are trying to maintain everyday life for my son to feel comfortable as we prepare for our talk with him.

  • What is the best thing about knowing your child's LGBTQ identity?

  • She is still figuring herself out. She claims she is bisexual. I know she was interested in men. So we are still figuring things out. But as we work thru this we are trying to maintain a loving caring relationship.

  • Knowing what you know today, would you want your child to “stay in the closet”? Why?

  • Tough one. I still wonder if this was right for her or if she was just at a point of needing a relationship but too nervous to begin dating a male. She’s always been very shy, but interested in boys. If I thought she knew what she wanted first and then went for it, I’d feel stronger to say no. And her girlfriend, who was just a friend that had a thing for her, has been in her ear dissuading her against boys for a couple of years. And as for now that influence on her makes me wonder. I’m sure my answer may change as she solidifies her identity and we see what happens.

  • What would you say to other parents learning the LGBTQ identity of their child?

  • Call me..let’s talk. Maybe we can bounce ideas off each other as we move thru the many phases of acceptance. Find outlets to talk to. Ones you are comfortable with. Be ok with the fact that you need time. And find good ways to explain that to those who need to know. As your no good to your family if your no good to yourself in getting there.

  • What would you say to youth coming out to their families?

  • I’m so glad you trusted them enough to tell them. Try to explain how you got here as much and best you can so they can understand how real your feelings are. That way they’ll work with you instead of constantly questioning you.

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