Rachel Charlene Lewis
May 02, 2016 11:51 am
Getty / Honor Bowden

On one hand, my being queer has nothing to do with my parents. It comes down to who I have sex with, and at the end of the day, I fail to see how that’s something my parents would want anything to do with. On the other, though, it’s something we have to acknowledge, and talk about, openly. Because it influences everything. Here’s everything I wish they knew about my sexuality, and that I hope we can talk about one day.

Bisexual people tend to suffer more from mental illness.

My sexuality matters because it influences who I am and how I move throughout the world. One major component of this is my mental health. In my house, we talk openly about things like anxiety and depression, but it’s important that we talk about the risks specific to our identities. As a bisexual woman, I’m more likely to have mental illnesses than lesbians, and especially more likely than straight women. Because we face biphobia both from the LGBTQ community and from straight people, it can be way harder to find solidarity and community.

Even if I date a guy, I’m still queer.

I most identify as queer, but I’m also bisexual, meaning that I date people of all genders. If I end up dating a guy, I’m not any less queer than I was when I was dating women. Dating men doesn’t erase the women I’ve dated in the past, any more than my dating a woman now means that I was secretly a giant lesbian the entire time I was dating boys in high school.

Sometimes, it’s scary to be out.

Even though people like to act like LGBTQ people these days have it way easier than we did in the past, I’m still terrified to be out in public. I worry that my girlfriend and I look “too gay.” I worry about the men who get pissed off when they realize we’re together and don’t want to hook up with them. I don’t hold my girlfriend’s hand in public, and I get nervous at new jobs when I say “partner” for the first time. My worries are both similar and different to how they may have felt as an interracial couple in the ’90s. Being a “different” couple has its own set of stressful day-to-day interactions, and, basically, it sucks.

It’s not a huge secret.

Still, I’m not “in the closet.” I’m clearly very open about who I am to the people who care about me and to the people who I think will benefit from having a queer woman of color be open about who she is. I write about it, always. I find community with other LGBTQIA people. I am who I am, and I’m not willing to silence it for anyone.

It’s not theirs to share.

While my sexuality isn’t a secret, it’s also not something to be paraded around. I don’t mind if my parents tell their friends and family about my girlfriend if it comes up, but I’d also be less than thrilled if I found out they were gossiping about it or using it as a way to get ally points.

Having a queer kid doesn’t make them excellent allies by default.

For me, this is huge. As the angry feminist daughter, it’s so important to me that my parents recognize that me being gay doesn’t mean that they immediately understand what it means to be LGBT+. Just as I do research when a friend shares an identity with me that I don’t know much about, I expect them to do the work to make sure they know what experiences I’m going to have that they didn’t have to deal with. All parents of queer kids have the responsiblity to avoid turning their kids into educators and to some learning on their own. Ask questions, but make sure you’ve got some answers for when your kids have questions, too.

I’m happier now than I ever was when I thought I was straight.

A lot of this sounds scary, and I don’t want my parents to think I live a life of perpetual misery, depression, and angst. I’m empowered by my identity. Because I’m queer, I feel freer to break boundaries and live the life want to lead because I’m already breaking the rules. My relationships work according to the rules that me and my partners decide on, and that’s completely shifted the way I think about things like love in the best way possible. I am happy, and I’ve found love in so many different forms and have found it most with myself.

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