I've known about my bisexuality since I was 13 years old and I begrudgingly admitted I could also have sexual feelings for men. As a society, I believe we have grown in our understanding of inclusive language since then, and the more accurate description of my sexual identity is pan/demisexual — meaning I can be romantically attracted to any human of any gender identity if and when I have a deep, soulful connection to that person — more accurately describes who I am. While there's to it than my sexuality, my queer identity has positively shaped my parenting in a number of ways I will be forever grateful for.
I was shocked to find out, having been born in late 1980, that I am "technically" an elder millenial. It does make sense, though, because I never really fit in with Generation X. After all, the younger millenials seem to have accepted the fluidity throughout sexual orientation and gender. This is one of the many reasons the constant patronizing criticism of millenials is ridiculously unfounded, in my humble opinion. If acceptance like this had been prevalent in my high school and college days, my life experiences would be categorically different. However, as it was, navigating the world as a bi-identified, female-passing co-ed in those days was a constant fight to be recognized and validated.
I went to high school in an ultra-conservative suburban town. I will never forget the moment when a (presumably) straight girl in my health class offered her solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her suggestion? "Put all the gays on an island and burn it!" This despicable comment was met with guffaws of approval from the rest of the 30 sophomores in the class. I ran from that town as soon as I could, hoping to find a place I could be me without fear. What I found was a college town halfway across the country, where the so-called LGBTQ community at the time was more like an "LG" community. Transgender people were blatantly ostracized and belittled. And Bisexuality? That doesn't even exist. You're just confused, or a "fence-sitting-swing-hitter" unwilling to give up your straight privilege. I actually lost close lesbian friends when I fell in love with my now-partner, because they believed I had "chosen the wrong side."
These experiences, and my unwavering commitment to be true to myself despite lack of understanding or support, undoubtedly shaped me in a positive way. After all, anything that shapes the person, shapes their parenting.