My mother just told me that she is a lesbian and that she has a girlfriend. It’s a lot of stress just finding out, but what’s more difficult is that everybody at school has always asked me if my mom is a lesbian. Whenever people asked, I would defend her and say she was not.
Now that she has told me she really is a lesbian, I don’t know what to do. Should I tell people the truth when they ask, or should I go on protecting my mom?
— 14-year-old daughter in Southern California
I know how it feels in the pit of your stomach when someone comes up to your face and asks about your mom. People did that to me, and no matter how often it happened, I did not know what to say. I usually ended up lying (because I was scared of harrassment) and then feeling really bad about not telling the truth.
If I could re-live those moments, I would go to my dad and say, “People at school are asking me if you are gay. What am I supposed to say?” I just assumed that my dad didn’t want anyone to know. But really, I was just making a big problem for myself because I worried too much about it. It would have been really, really hard to talk to my dad about it, but I wish I would have. I thought I was protecting my dad, but I never tried to find out if he wanted or needed to be “protected” in that way.
Your mom just came out to you. That means from now on, you will also be “coming out” nearly every day — as the daughter of a lesbian mother. Sometimes you and your mom will disagree about how “out” you want to be as a family. When that happens, it’s important you both talk about why you want to come out or not, so that each of you can understand the other person’s concerns.
Finally, be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers. Adults certainly don’t, so I don’t think teens should have to either!