I am very blessed to have fantastic LGBTQ allies for parents. Although I wasn't sure if they remembered that I came out to them in 8th grade, of course they did, and they found ways to support my developing identity from that point on, while still allowing me to explore it myself. My mother has always been especially thoughtful and caring, especially now that I am fully out to her and my dad as both bi and poly. Besides my partner, they are the biggest fans and supporters of the Jayne B Shea brand! The other day, my mom was showing me some food ideas she had collected on Pinterest, including the awesome rainbow kebab tray above, which she had saved because she knew I'd love it as a representation of the Pride Flag. It's little touches like that moment that let me know she and my dad support me in my bisexual and polyamorous identity, and always will.
In honor of my parents, and to provide support for families in similar situations, here are some ways that parents can show their support for their bisexual (or LGBTQ in general) children:
- Learn: Study as much as your can about sexual identity, gender identity, queer rights issues and other topics that might be relevant to your child. Be a resource if your child has questions about these subjects (without trying to teach them - allow them to explore the issues on their own.)
- Watch Your Pronouns/Gender Assumptions: It's easy to fall into heteronormative habits when checking in with your child about love interests. Stick with the gender-neutral "they" to show that you know and accept that your child may be interested in either same-gender or opposite-gender partners.
- Take them to Pride Festivals: Last summer, I was so proud, pleased and excited to see so many parents with their kids at Seattle and Portland Pride. Attending these events with your kids is a major demonstration of your support for their identity. It can also make them feel more comfortable in their new community and help them make smart choices as they celebrate Pride.
- Be a Good Wingwoman/Wingman: This is a bit tricky, since for some kids it might be weird to have mom or dad as a wingwoman or wingman, but I can't tell you how much it meant to me over the years to hear my mom comment on women I thought were cute. You don't necessarily have to help them find dates, but showing your support in this area is a thoughtful touch.
- Give them Space & Love: Sexual and gender identity is a tricky issue that your child needs to navigate for themselves. Allow your child the freedom to explore and define their own identity over time. Show them you love them who they are, including (not despite) their sexual identity.