The Voice Box

Raising a Queer Teen in a
Complex World



By Patti Humble, Guest Blogger


My dearest friend asked me if I would write this for Pride Month. Actually, her exact words were, “For Pride month, would you have any interest in writing a guest blog about raising a kid who is part of the Alphabet Mafia?” I mean, who could resist that ask? Certainly not me.

I’m honored that she asked me, though. My experience as being ‘Not Just an Ally, But a Parent’ is still relatively new, as is my son’s self-discovery. No, that sounds dumb. “His self-discovery.” Jesus, I’m not talking about what country he conquered, or his first time being, ahem a teen boy. Alright, I’m way overthinking this.

My son – known from here on out as The Kid – came out to me as bisexual when he was in 8th grade. It was very much a non-issue, and the conversation went something like this:

The Kid: Hey Mom, I think I’m bi.

Me: Cool. What do you want for dinner?

At the time I didn’t think I needed to make a big deal out of it. It was a non-issue for us. But then I remembered when several of my friends came out, and how it had never been a non-issue. I remember their nervousness, their discomfort, their fear. I remember hating it on their behalf. I hated that being themselves had to be an announcement. I hated how unfair it was, and I was always honored when a friend trusted me enough to come out to me.  But, in the 90s, coming out was rarely – if ever –  a “non-issue.”

But sexuality is fluid, and a few months later he told me he was gay, not bi. We talked about letting his dad know, and he asked if I would tell him. See, my husband liked to tease The Kid about girls in his class–you know, the way dorky dads do. “Ooh, I saw GenericGirlName looking at you at the baseball game.” His Dad-game is strong. So I was tasked with telling Husband.

Me: So, The Kid told me he’s gay.

Husband: Ok. I’m still gonna make fun of him.

Me: I’d expect nothing less.

After that conversation, the Dad jokes became inclusive. He would still mention girls, but he would immediately mention guys also. Teasing him about how important a good butt is to whoever you date. Y’know, the important things.

Months later, The Kid came to me and told me he is asexual. Ok. We talked about what that meant and he told me how he can see people as attractive, but not want to have sex with them. Which, I’m not going to lie, made my Mom heart dance a little. Because he’s my baby, and babies don’t have sex. He had been doing research online (with parental guidance), and the first club he joined in high school was the LGBTQ+ club. He was trying to figure out who he was and I was really glad that he’s able to do that. I made him an LGBTQ bracelet, and an Ace bracelet, and he wears them every day. He got some pins from the local university that he put on his bag.

More than once, The Kid has said that he hates the way he looks. “I just want to feel pretty.” I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t break a little every time. I want to believe that I tell him all the right things – that he can experiment with my makeup or walk around the house in skirts if he wants. Putting the qualifier of “in the house” was tough because I don’t ever want him to hide who he is, and I didn’t want him to think there was anything to be ashamed of. But I also don’t want him to be at risk in the world. So, he’s grown his hair out and he wore his ‘I am Kenough’ shirt for his school picture this year. And he’s told his friends that he is gay, ace, and maybe trans. He just finished his first year of high school and he hasn’t reported anything negative. At least, not to me.

The Kid is more happy and confident than he’s been in years. He has friends that love and support him. He shares memes and articles about LGBTQ+ subjects. We occasionally share moments like the other day, when we watched Tom Holland’s performance on Lip Sync Battle and The Kid looked at me and said, “God, he’s hot.” Yes. Yes indeed.

Asking how I feel about raising a Queer kid in today’s social and political climate is a loaded question. I don’t know how I feel. But at the end of the day, that matters less than how HE feels. And, right now, he feels good. His life is good. He’s finding a community of friends who support him, and he knows that he can come to me or his father with any questions he might have. We have discussions – sometimes awkward, uncomfortable conversations – but The Kid never doubts that he is loved.

I love that he wants to be open about who he is. But my husband was – is – understandably concerned.

We live in a very red state, in a country where the GOP seems to be chomping at the bit to take away as many rights as they can, from anyone that doesn’t fit into their narrow view of ‘traditional’ and ‘normal.’ And yes, we live in a college town but it’s still a very red state, and it is a long way from the Northeast where I grew up. (This is not to say that the Northeast is without problems; that would be disingenuous.)

Things were getting “better” in this country, but it is now a valid fear that this country will be taken over by fascism and Christian nationalism. People have become emboldened to make public their hate of anything “different.” That’s unnerving for me, as a cishet white woman. It’s absolutely terrifying as the mother of a Queer kid who is just starting to figure out who he is.

Things won’t always be this “easy” for him, and I don’t want his life to be “easy” or “free from struggle.” That’s how we grow as people. But I don’t ever want my kid to be attacked for who he is. Or who they are. 🏳️‍🌈