When my daughter came out – Ann’s story

This year, much loved Australian performer Magda Szubanski came out to the public, and revealed that she’d felt suicidal as a gay teenager. Sadly, hers is not an uncommon story. Many teenagers are afraid of coming out and how it might change their relationships with family and with friends and other kids at school. Parents of gay children have unique concerns and challenges not shared by their friends with teenagers.

When Bec, now 17, decided to come out to her parents, it was a slow unfolding of the truth over several years. Her parents were extremely supportive, however Bec still entered a period of severe anxiety and loneliness. Now in her final months of high school, Bec is looking forward to what her future holds.

Magda Szubanski coming out on The Project with Dave Hughes

Magda Szubanski coming out on The Project with Dave Hughes. Photo by The Age.

Coming out to mum

I knew by the time I was 13 at the end of year 7 that I was gay,” says Bec. “It started off with me knowing that what my friends were talking about, such as boys, wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. I ended up on the Internet doing research, and being secretive about it.”

Mum Ann said she had noticed her daughter’s secret behaviour.

“Bec was minimising websites when I walked by, and I’d be thinking, ‘What’s she up to?’” recalls Ann. “Then she read about some books she wanted to buy. She gave me these titles and I trotted off to the bookshop to order them, unbeknownst to me what they were. I was getting some interesting looks from the sales assistant! The first few were about three gay students in high school in America, then she ordered another about a lesbian, and another was about a transgender person.

“When they arrived she was really into them – but she reads everything, consumes books, and she’d also read Gone With the Wind at the time. So I just thought she was exploring new things.”

“When she did tell me directly, she seemed so much more happy and relaxed and comfortable. There was a weight off her mind saying it”

Ann then asked Bec if she could read the books, which she did. She also checked out the websites Bec had been using, and found she’d become a member of www.afterellen.com, a website about lesbian and bisexual women in entertainment.

On their next visit to the bookshop – “I think the lady started stocking things just for us,” laughs Ann – Bec suggested her mum buy a book titled When Our Children Come Out.

“And that was about as subtle as it was,” says Ann. “And when she did tell me directly, she seemed so much more happy and relaxed and comfortable – there was a weight off her mind saying it.”

Coming out to others

Throughout the year, Bec had been talking only with her mum about her sexuality, but Ann had been keeping dad Chris up to date, along with other family members.

“I fed people information as Bec came out to more people in the family. She hasn’t told her grandmother upfront, but I did. As a parent I think you get that job a lot – coming out to family members. But that’s ok.”

Bec chose to talk to her mum first because she felt closer to her than to her dad. Chris took a bit longer than Ann to accept what Bec was telling him.

“Dad said to me, ‘You’re too young to know you’re gay, how do you know when you haven’t had a boyfriend?'”

“Dad said to me, ‘You’re too young to know you’re gay, how do you know when you haven’t had a boyfriend?’ I told him that you don’t need a boyfriend to know you’re straight, so why do you need a girlfriend to know you’re a lesbian?”

Meanwhile, Ann’s mothering instinct went into full swing, as she turned to the Internet to educate herself. She found a local gay and lesbian youth group, and took her daughter to the door. “As I watched Bec cross that threshold, I really knew then it was something she felt strongly about and it was what she wanted. It cemented in my mind that she was confident and happy to do that.”

Next: Feeling isolated / What to wear to the formal?

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Comments

  1. I am glad your daughter felt comfortable telling you & it has been ok. After our daughter came out as lesbian we were ok at first then we had some issues too. I found the PFLAG Australia Website which is mentioned in the ‘What next’ story. Since then I have become part of PFLAG which has become a great support network for me.

  2. Thekids says:

    Thanks Helen – I’ve added the PFLAG link to this story now.

  3. Fi @ My Mummy Daze says:

    This is such an encouraging article! Bec sounds so mature and supported by her family. Thanks so much for linking up! Fi x
    Fi @ My Mummy Daze recently posted..I’m a Blogger & I’m PRO Gay MarriageMy Profile

  4. Great to see such positive stories of coming out 🙂 Thanks for sharing it.
    Glowless recently posted..Marriage is so gayMy Profile

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