For the most part, I try to avoid difficult conversations. I never came out to my parents as bisexual, for example. Instead, I silently hoped they would just "get it." You know, like through osmosis or something. Then I married a man, so everyone automatically assumed, and continues to assume, I'm straight... including my kids. But I'm not, so I made the choice to come out to my kids. And while the process was very meaningful to me, to my kids it wasn't a big deal.
When I asked some of my LGBTQ+ friends to share their own personal stories of coming out to their kids, I was reminded that, not unsurprisingly, kids are on the whole more willing to accept a person's sexuality and gender identity than adults. When I heard these stories of love and acceptance, I realized that we can learn a lot from how our kids accept things us adults consider to be "controversial," like gender being a social construct.
For our kids, heterosexual relationships and cis-gender people don't have to be the default or the norm. And when we talk to them about our own sexuality and/or gender identity, we open the door for them to talk about theirs, too, or at the very least make sure that they know we'd accept and love them no matter how they identify or who they love. That, my friends, is an important message we should all try to impart.
For some beautiful coming out stories that truly embody the fact that love is love is love, read on:
"I transitioned when our son was 2. In all honesty, he didn't seem to see any issue with it or ask questions. When he turned 4, he came in the kitchen one day and told me, for the first time, that he was a boy. I used that as a way to bring the conversation up. I told him I was so happy he decided to be a boy, and that he could be anything he wanted to be.
Then I let him know that I wasn't a boy or a girl. He thought about it for a second, then he said, 'That's cool.' Then he went back to his trains. Could I say that our visibility and parenting made the discussion that easy? I don't know. I honestly just believe kids aren't born to hate and are much more tolerant and understanding than we give them credit for."
"I didn't. I have an ex-husband. I had a boyfriend. Then I had a girlfriend and another girlfriend. The reason I came out publicly — to my family, the interwebs, employers, et al — was because my kids asked my then-girlfriend if she would be their stepmom some day. I sincerely thought she would be, so I introduced her around."
"I never made a big deal of my liking both men and women. My daughter once said it was strange to see two women kiss, so I told her mommy has kissed girls like that. She walked away saying OK cool."
"Sexuality wise I didn't 'come out' really. I mean, I am what I am, and my kids having always known who their mom is. Even though we are often presumed to be a 'cis straight' couple, we aren't.
Gender wise, my kiddo's understanding of their own gender really opened me up to face my own. So that was a congruent with having kiddos process. My two littles won't know any different, as non-binary is just what momma's gender is. But of my two oldest, the 7 year old — probably 5 when I told him — was like 'OK,' and switched pronouns immediately.
My oldest is non-gender or gender neutral, and I tried to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with them about my process and journey. I wanted to be really clear that they still felt supported by me and that my own gender journey wouldn't overshadow or be more important than theirs. They were probably 7 or 8 at the time. They were just like, 'Yeah, whatever, mom. Can we talk about Minecraft now?'"
"I’m a single mom by choice, who hasn’t been in a relationship since my son has been born. While I’ve never hid the fact that I’m a lesbian from him, he has never seen me in a relationship. I had mentioned something about helping my girlfriend when she had her wisdom teeth pulled in the past, and he asked what kind of girlfriend she was. I told him she was the kissing kind. What really made him understand for real, though, was him repeatedly asking me for a sibling, and me telling him unless I am with another woman who wants to grow our family with me by carrying a baby, it’s not likely going to happen."
"I just talk about my orientation when I talk about attraction in general. But I was openly bi before I had kids."
"I don’t know if I really had to come out to my kid. Eventually, I started dating only women. It didn’t take much for kiddo to accept that change. The bigger talk was when she asked me if it would be OK if she likes a boy when she grows up. I let her know I’m OK with her dating anyone who is kind and treats her well. Then the issue was settled.
The biggest talk was about moving out of our 'lesbian Mecca' of a city and talking about how everyone doesn’t necessarily need to know right off the bat that mommy is a lesbian. That was the most difficult talk."
"It's always just been a part of life to my kids. I've been a single parent since they were born, so they've seen me date both men and women over the years. I guess they haven't really known any different, so no reason to actually 'come out.' I also have a lot of friends of different sexualities, so same sex relationships, as well as hetero relationships, have always been just as normal as each other to my kids.
I think the only thing they've really actually asked about is why some of my female friends look like boys (short hair, men's clothing), and that's been as simple as explaining that they're just wearing what they feel comfortable in, and that's that."
"My son came out to me as bisexual when he was 11. He was scared. I assured him that I understood, as I am also bisexual. He was so thankful, and we discussed how silly it is to discriminate for such things. It was a really wonderful conversation."
"It was pretty casual to come out to my stepson. We were talking about people being gay, and I said the people can be attracted to all different genders, that I have dated women before, and that I’m bisexual. It was kind of a non-thing and I doubt he even remembers.
I haven’t specifically said anything to the 4 year old yet. We mostly talk about gender identity and how we show love, not any sexual orientation stuff at this point. But I'm definitely open to having that conversation when it seems right."