My daughter is queer, why can’t I “come to terms with it”?

As a parent of a daughter who identifies as queer, there is a lot to learn- a whole new language in fact. I will admit to previously being completely ignorant, not just of the issues facing the queer community but of, well, the queer community in general.

The concept of the sexuality beyond heteronormativity (one of the new words I have learnt) was just not on my radar. Some of this can perhaps be attributed to a generational thing. Yet I have come to realize that it may also be due to the fact that I simply just don’t care what anyone’s sexuality is.

A guiding philosophy of mine is that people automatically have my respect but that they can earn my disrespect. I try to apply this philosophy irrespective of race gender or sexuality. So when our daughter shared with us that she identified as queer, to me there was nothing that I needed to “come to terms with”. It didn’t change who she is one little bit. She is still my intelligent caring occasionally irritating daughter.

Many of our friends are probably unaware of our daughter’s sexuality. This is not due to shame or fear or any sort of desire to hide it. It is simply not really anyone else’s business. It occasionally comes up in conversation, for example, when I mention her activities in the queer department at university. At that point people usually look a little shocked and confused.

Let me address, however, the questions that do come up when our friends find out.

Q: Does that mean she is lesbian or bisexual?A: Probably none of your business but she prefers the term queer as she is more interested in the individual rather than their sexuality.

Q: Lucky her- she is really broadening her playing field isn’t she? A: [eye roll]

Q: Do you think this is just a phase? A: I have come to understand that sexuality is fluid. It is not uncommon for sexual orientation to change over time. That does not means this is ‘just a phase’. Most of us have more than one relationship in our lifetime. If someone has a loving and meaningful straight relationship in their twenties and a same sex relationship in their 40’s, does that mean that straight was just a phase?

Q: Aren’t you worried about her not having kids? A: Yes. I want grandchildren! But not at the expense of her living an authentic life.

Q: So how are things different since learning your daughter is queer? (No one ever actually asked me that, I just wanted to answer it). A: I have learnt a lot. As I mentioned earlier, I have learnt a whole new language. I now know what LGBTQIA stands for. I have learnt that there are some people who identify as non-binary from a gender perspective (that is, does not fit within the binary male and female genders) and that they prefer to be referred to using gender-neutral pronouns and terms (them, their, they). I have gotten to know some wonderful, dynamic generous kids. Most importantly, I have had the pleasure of watching my daughter blossom and grow as she embraces life.

Q: Aren’t you worried about the impact on her younger sisters? A: No. I believe that seeing their sister being proud of who she is and living an authentic life can only have a positive influence.

Q: How have you come to terms with your daughter’s sexuality? A: There is nothing to “come to terms” with.

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