One afternoon, I loudly and embarrassingly sang RuPaul’s “Sissy That Walk” to my daughters while dancing in their room. Their laughter was infectious, as I tickled their feet. They were carefree normal little girls, eight and 12 years old. But I knew the laughter and joy would eventually be overshadowed by people’s perception of them, because I am a mom to a child in the LGBTQIA+ community. June marks the anniversary of my daughter coming out, although I had instinctively known for at least six months prior that she was a part of the queer community.

My daughter came out last year, and while she knew that regardless of who she was she would be loved, honored and respected, she still felt the need to come out. It was not uncommon to see our family supporting, accepting or loving all kinds of people. So, the fact that my daughter felt like she had to come out was strange.

Let me explain. My daughters know that they are and will always be loved and no one can take that away. I think at first I took it as a personal failure that she felt she had to come out. Did I not make my love and support clear from the start? I was confused. Did I need to be doing more? I sat with this for a while. Not in a narcissistic way, but as a way to self-evaluate. Was I doing all that I could to support and love my kids?

I realized that while my daughter knew she was loved and supported, she needed to say that for herself; it had nothing to do with me. She knew she could talk about anything with both her father and me, and we had her back regardless.

When she came out, we simply said, “Yes, we know.” Because we did. I told her father sometime prior that I had a feeling and his response was similar — “OK, that’s cool.” The truth is, it didn’t phase either of us until school started back in the fall. That required different conversations that left us clumsily trying to navigate our new normal. One of these new situations was vetting people extensively.

Courtesy of Yolanda Barksdale

If a person could not support the LGBTQIA+ community wholeheartedly, then I could not associate with them in any way. I needed to make sure everyone around me was a safe person for my children to be around without having to feel like they were walking on eggshells. This resulted in cutting several people out of our lives for the safety and well-being of my family.

Living in a very red, conservative, pro-Trump, pro-gun, god-fearing county presented us with unique challenges in how our daughter would be able to protect herself from unwelcoming people, while also allowing her to be herself and navigate how to combat negativity from others.

“No, you will not go to hell for your sexual orientation. No, you are not an abomination”

“Please know parents and their kids will say very mean things to you. Tell me immediately. It will be handled accordingly.”

“You are worthy, you are loved, you are special and you are created by the divine. None of that changes.”

What I didn’t expect was the amount of kids that would flock to my daughter with different genders or sexualities that came from unsupportive households, leaning on us for the support they so desperately needed.

My daughter’s strength over this year has amazed me. She took on people teasing her about her sexuality, other parents not letting their kids be friends with her and adults’ irrational fear that the kids were going to “catch the gay.” She withstood it all while also excelling in school, landing on the honor roll.

To celebrate her anniversary, I took my girls to DC pride, where they got to ride on a float and throw beads into the massive crowd of people. I took special notice of the kids attending, flying different pride flags and screaming like they were at a Michael Jackson concert. I realized that many kids do not get to see themselves represented as much as they should, so when they saw my girls on the float, there were tears in some of their eyes. There were my girls, yelling, “Hey! I see you! I’m here”. I’m sure it was a core memory for them, but the honor I felt at that moment — nothing compares.

As a relatively new mother to a queer daughter, I’m still learning the right things to say and do, but I’ve learned that the world would be such a beautiful place if we just loved and supported our kids and other people the way they deserve, regardless of what they look like or who they are.


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