It was during a dinner with colleagues that I was most recently asked about my sexuality. On my social media pages, I frequently identify as a queer Latina. I always identified as bisexual growing up, but these days I use queer. After all, my attractions are never based on gender. But because I'm a mom, married to a cisgender man, people often question my identity. I know the questions will continue, and I know I'm not alone. So I asked how other queer moms “came out” to their kids, because one day it won't be colleagues asking about my sexuality. It'll be my son, and I'll need to come out to him in my own way.
I don’t hide the fact that I identify as a queer woman, but I don’t talk about it on a daily basis. I’m louder about it on the internet, I guess, because it feels safe, but I'm definitely quieter about my sexuality around certain people, including specific family members. Everyone makes a choice as to who they come out to, if they do at all, and there’s no right or wrong answer. That said, I do plan to let my son know that my attractions are not and have never been solely on a “heterosexual level.” I want to take him to pride parades and I’m already exposing him to cartoons and books with diverse families. I want my son to accept others as they are, and to be open and honest with himself and about his sexuality as he gets older.
This inevitable conversation is more than a few years down the road, to be sure, but I don't think it hurts to be prepared, either. So I thought I’d ask other moms who have already “come out” to their kids about their unique and personal experiences. This is what they had to say:
“I waited until my kids questioned sexuality. My daughter told me she thinks she likes girls too, and I cracked my knuckles. All of my children now know I’m bisexual. I’ve never been shy about it. My son says he’s attracted to other boys as well as girls just a few weeks ago. I told him I love him and to be happy.”
“Honestly as a pansexual momma I just planned on raising them that anyone can love anyone so I've never even considered the need to ‘out’ myself to my kids. Although if they ever ask, I'd just be truthful. Yup, momma likes men and women and everything in between. I've already told my 4-year-old that she can love boys or girls or both, and it's up to her and how she feels. And she's parroted some of my comments about other women when she's heard me say how attractive I think they are. Now I'm starting to think this should actually be a conversation, so [my kids] know that I am pan and can talk with me about it.”
“I am pansexual. I have always been open about it. I have been married to a cisgender man for either years. I had the actual talk about attraction with my daughter when she said she had a crush on one of her friends who is a girl. I explained that I get crushes on all types of people, including her teacher at the time. It's never been a secret in my home. I stress that the important thing in any relationship is that they treat each other with respect, as well as the importance of consent. I have known since I was a kid and I kissed a boy and his sister in the same summer.”
“I have not talked to my children yet, as they’re too young. I was married to a man for five years and am currently getting a divorce (due to domestic violence, nothing really along the lines of my sexuality). I am back in the dating pool, with a man again, and I’ve had many people tell me I can’t possibly be bisexual if I am only ever with men. That’s absolutely silly to me. Long-term relationships with someone do not determine your sexuality and that you only like that specific gender.
I told my father when I was about 12 years old. After I moved out as an adult, my stepmother came out that she was homosexual. The divorce from my father was sort of her way of ‘coming out.’ It was hurtful at first, but given how she was raised and grew up, I have a lot of sympathy for her feeling she had to hide it and marry into a heterosexual relationship.
As for me, I plan to tell my children when they’re old enough to understand that I am attracted to both men and women (or more specifically, a person’s heart and mind over their genitalia). I want my children to know that it is absolutely OK to love who they want to love and be who they want to be.”
“I’m bi, and I honestly didn’t think about telling [my kids] until they began exploring themselves. I’m married to a man. About a year ago, my daughter came out as transgender (female to male) who is attracted to girls. He felt very confused and I explained I also am attracted to females. I think it helped ease that part of coming out for him. We do attend pride festivals and support groups as a family to help the other kids with my son’s transition while he explores what feels to be his true self.”
“It has never occurred to me to be less than honest with my kids. Yes, I have dated guys and girls, but I married their dad. It doesn't invalidate that I still dated guys and girls, though. My mother-in-law is married to a lovely woman who has been in my kids' lives for over a decade. To them this is normal. They seemed pretty surprised last election that gay marriage was a platform, since they just assumed it was normal.”
“I came out in my early 40s after the end of a cis-het marriage. Even before that, when any, 'Someday you'll meet a nice…,' themed statement was made about my kids, I was careful about not using gendered language in referring to potential partners ('whoever you marry' versus 'your wife,' etc.). When questions got specific about me dating, I asked why they would assume I wanted to date a man. Maybe I would go out with a woman or with someone who didn't identify as either.
It ended up that I met (and married) a queer trans man, who prior to his transition had been partnered with a cis woman. We have several children between us. Because of concerns involving a combination of their ages, safety, and privacy, we are not direct about our own queerness (the kids are aware that my husband is trans and they understand what that means) but we are open about our support of and involvement in queer advocacy activities, and we are open about who we find attractive. It's important to us to reinforce being queer-positive, because of how well we pass (one of the kids recently mentioned in conversation that they had forgotten about my husband being trans!). We have not only been exposed to homophobia and transphobia in our daily lives in work and community, but also endure repeated attempts at homophobic and transphobic education of all of our children by both friends and family members. The thought of overcompensating is tempting!”
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