Dear Dr. Eve,
My 13-year-old daughter announced that she is “gay”. What does that
even mean? At 13 years old how can she know for sure what her
sexuality is? She swears that she has known for a long time. I have
always been suspicious as she dresses like a boy. Baggy clothes, no
interest in makeup and she likes hanging out with boys. Do I persuade
her to stop liking girls and to insist that she wears girl clothes? By the
way, I am not homophobic and will love her no matter who she is.
DR EVE REPLIES:
I admire your spirit and honesty. Parenting is challenging. Todays’ youth
are exposed to multiple stories of same age people across the world. I
am sure your daughter has googled “gay”, “same-sex”, “lesbian”, “queer”
and many other terms to try to understand herself, her sexuality, and her
sexual orientation. This is both exhilarating and terrifying for young
people who, like your daughter, begin to question their sexuality, from a
young age. Exhilarating as your daughter can easily connect with
likeminded people online. At 13 years old, children mostly want to fit in,
belong, and be part of a crowd. Finding a supportive and informative
online community is helpful and necessary for people coming out as
anything other than hetero-normative.
And terrifying as talking to other likeminded people online, is very
different from actually coming out In Real Life.
So, for your daughter to come out as “gay” to you is so very brave. It
very positively reflects on you as a parent. She must feel safe and secure
with you to risk this exposure.
Many parents, like you, are initially confused by a child’s declaration of a
new identity, or label, such as “I am gay”. Instead of asking why or
questioning yourself for maladies and prejudices, merely be present with
your child and allow her to guide you.
Do not be distracted by her clothing. Her external appearance is a
personal statement that may or may not reflect her sexual orientation.
Who she chooses as friends – and lovers one day as she gets older – may
well change as people’s (especially women’s) sexual orientation is fluid.
In your youth, I guess your world without the internet was smaller and less
informational and entertaining. So even if there was a part of you that
did not fit into what everyone around you was reflecting, no way, was
there space for you to display that part of yourself safely.
Today young people are encouraged to come out with all their diverse
questioning sexual parts.
The reason for this is so that they can feel safe and secure in a world that
still has many parts that do not support young people who are anything
other than hetero-normative. Coming out allows her access to sexual
health services which is her right. And allows her to access professional
support as she navigates her way through healthy sexual loving and
Take time to soothe yourself through this newness, find compassion for
yourself and for her. She will need a lot of respect, kindness, and
compassion from you as the world may not always give this to her.
It would be an intimacy injustice if you were to shame her by questioning
and doubting her.
“Dear Dr. Eve” is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is
not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the
advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with
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