It’s me, your daughter. Today I’m writing to you because there are some things I want you to know. You’ve taught me a lot in all my years, and I want to write about the things I can’t teach you face-to-face. You’ve told me many stories about your life – how you nearly didn’t go to college, how you met my dad scuba diving, your experiences working in New York City. I think you’ve shaped me and my values a lot. I’m ready to apply for colleges, and I’ll never give up on my dreams. And that includes finding the right man – or anyone – to be my life partner. I guess what I really want to focus on here, though, is the “or anyone” part.
You’ve never actually said that to me. “Or anyone.” It has always been a man that I should be on the look out for, a man that I’ll date and, subsequently, marry. I’ve always passed this off as fine. It’s okay for you to assume that I’ll marry a man, right? You’re heterosexual; my whole family is heterosexual, really. It’s fine … except that it’s not.
No one really knows how many LGBT+ youth there are in America, but the numbers exist and are substantial. Whether it’s 7 percent of the population, or it’s actually less, or maybe even more, the fact remains that there are LGBT+ teens who live and go about their day-to-day lives, just the same as cisgender, heterosexual teens do. They’re the same as most teens, yes, but how they are treated isn’t. Their peers are sometimes accepting and loving regardless of their gender or sexuality, and there are many safe spaces, clubs, and events for just this reason, but they’re still scorned and excluded at large because of who they choose to love.
I believe a large part of the issue is coming from the parents of these teens. Children aren’t born with prejudice and hate; they’re taught by what they see and hear from those around them. You can fight me on this all you want, but I cannot sit still thinking of myself, who was afraid to say the word “lesbian” until the age of 12. Children are taught to avoid
the topic of sexuality and forced to endure
heteronormativity their entire lives.
Mom, I know you hate it when I try to present arguments to you, but I’m talking about you here. Yeah.
You’ve taught me a lot of good things, but you’ve also taught me hate and distrust. You’ve taught me not to support movements for LGBT+ rights and to stay away from my friends who are not straight. They’re just confused, right? You have taught me that being homosexual is okay, but you’re glad that you don’t have one in your family. Unfortunately for you, you are stuck with a bisexual daughter.
For you, this is an age of incredible hypocrisy, yet also possibly of incredible learning. I speak not just to you, Mom, but to every parent who has ever stifled their child and ignored the possibility that they may not be straight. You can fix this. You do not have to immediately raise your child to be an ambassador for LGBT+ rights. You are in no way obligated to even do anything as a consequence of this letter. However, if you do desire to change the world, to make sure no child ever endures hate for who they love again, you can start as simply as saying, “Or anyone.”
Your bisexual daughter
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.