Worried about homophobic hostility(7 Posts)
My early teen daughter came out as a lesbian a few months ago. I hadn't really thought at length about her sexuality before but we had always talked as if the future was open (ie "when you have a boyfriend or girlfriend when you are older"). She is out and open about it at home and school (although not all the wider family knows as we haven't seen them since and it's not really a 'phone around and tell' or 'facebook announcement' thing for us)
Now she is out I am happy to embrace who she is but is it normal to be so worried for her? In the time since she came out I can't work out if there has been an increase in homophobia or if I am just more sensitive to it. Last week a (male) friend was beaten up for being "a faggot", there was the Orlando shooting which is worrying but more worryingly have been some of the 'they brought it upon themselves' comments I have seen about. I read that gay women are more likely than straight women to be raped, I don't know by how much this is true but even if I did I don't know how I could give her the tools to protect herself.
Dd has never seen or experienced homophobic hostility, as a family we are liberal and her school is very diverse and has a strong policy on homophobia so being out at school hasn't (yet?) brought any problems. Maybe I am just worrying about nothing but I am concerned she may be too naive about what she may face later.
Have any more experienced parents of gay children got any words of wisdom for me please?
Are you in the UK?
In my experience, gay women experience less homophobia than men. While all my 'evidence' is anecdotal, I've also found that lesbians that look the part are more likely to experience homophobia than those who you perhaps couldn't tell were gay. I guess the same is true for men.
Obviously your Dd shouldn't for a second change the way she chooses to dress or wear her hair, but I get the feeling from your OP that you didn't already know or suspect she was gay, and I'm inferring from that that strangers won't be an issue for her as they won't instantly know/guess. She'll likely encounter less trouble from homophobes if she doesn't look obviously gay. I feel awful writing this because it's so, so wrong but it's something I've found to be true.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to also equip her with ways to defend herself against such behaviours, in as far as is possible. I totally get why you're nervous for her, but a life out of the closet is infinitely preferable to one in the closet. She's lucky to have your support and seemingly the support of her friends at school.
I wish I could be more help but I don't think I can. I don't think you need to worry too much though - I think that homophobia is on the decrease overall and people are quite rightly becoming more accepting.
I had the same worries when my DS came out. There was one issue at school, which was swiftly dealt with, and a couple of comments from strangers that I know about, but on the whole people have been welcoming and accepting. We are in a large city with loads of colleges and several universities. That probably helps - I'd like to think things have moved on everywhere, but I doubt that's the case. Good luck to your DD
Flossiesmummy - Yes, the UK - a large town just north of London. It is a very multi-ethnic town for all that brings, good and not as good. She is dainty and traditionally feminine with waist length hair that she likes dying interesting colours over the summer holidays. I know teens like to change their look though so who knows how she will choose to dress in a few years and when she is dating and being part of a couple in public then it is likely to be more obvious.
AgentProvocateur - I think our particular town is a place where there is the potential for less acceptance, I may be projecting my own prejudices though. Dh and I have talked for a while about moving to Cambridge which may be a very different picture, that won't be for a few years though.
Some people might experience less open homophobia because they are able to hide it. However don't discount the psychological harm of having to watch yourself all the time. The way you talk, you walk, you dress.
There is also the other side of the coin.
People assuming all the time you are straight, maybe feeling free to make homophobic remarks about other people, that is not easy to handle.
And for young girls to be subject of unwanted male sexual attention can also be difficult to handle.
Just saying if your daughter is out and/or visible, or if she can 'pass' as straight, she will equally have difficulties and have to deal with homophobic attitudes, just differently. Definitely less at risk of physical harm, but her mental wellbeing may suffer.
As parents we are going to worry no matter where we live. Just keep an open dialogue going with you daughter and support and reassure her then she can share any concerns with you. I do understand though, I have the same stress.
My youngest DD came out 12 years ago when she was 15. She's getting married next year to a smashing girl - my advice is unless there's a specific problem to deal with, don't go looking for one or worrying that there might be one!
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