Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cool kids

I’ve been a bit absent from this blog, as you might have spotted, due to a serious onset of brain fog. You know – no concentration, no thoughts worth thinking, a general d’uh-ness.

Still, today a gentle breeze of positivity and cheer has whisked the clouds away. I’m going to Brighton (the English Brighton, not the New York beach) tonight to see my son graduate from university. A sense of pride is in order!

But anyway, back to bisexuality and I started thinking about telling your kids you are bisexual.

It was easy for me. In 1993, when Women and Bisexuality was published, A was eight. He was very proud of my writing and was inclined to tell people when I had a book coming out. I knew that he had to be protected from other people’s negativity, so I told him very clearly that I could love men, or love women, and that many people didn’t like that. (I mentioned a few who might object). I told him that I had written a book about it, and he should be careful about telling people. He said, very matter-of-factly, “Well Mum, you know what they say: each one to their own”.
Of course, he spent a lot of his childhood, from the age of 0 upwards, hanging out with a big old bunch of queers, but I thought his reaction was terrific. And I still do.

Ms Melancholy, in a recent (and lovely) post, talked about how her own son, of a similar age, asked if two men could get married. When told that, in many places, they couldn’t, his reaction was “that’s not fair”. And it isn’t.

What wasn’t easy for me were other people’s reactions – that I was a promiscuous, bad mother, who was obviously too dazed by my wanton lusts to be able to concentrate on parenting. “He’s going to be so confused,” some said. I mean, it wasn’t as if these people really knew me at all – they just heard the word “bisexual” and their brains lit up. Or switched off, perhaps. I know that these same people are baffled by the charming and generally together man that he has become.

Ironically, of course, while my son knew, in theory, that I could “love men, or love women”, in practice, I hardly dated anyone when he was little and on the rare occasions when I did it was when he was staying overnight with other family members. When I started seeing the man who is now my partner, A was 12 and they didn’t meet until I knew our relationship was a serious one. (Although we had been friends for a long while… but that’s another story.)

So much for the revolving door theory – that I would have so many lovers coming in and out of my life that A wouldn’t know if he was coming or going. In reality, after I split up with A’s father, it was The Wilderness Years for me.

What about you?

In general, other bi people with kids have three ways of handling it. A) “They don’t need to know”. This is usually from people who have a long-term partner/spouse, and see their bisexuality as something purely sexual. B) “I’d like to tell them but I’m afraid of the consequences” or C)“Of course they have to know, how could they not”.
Because so many people think that bisexuality is necessarily temporary, a phase, something that will go away when you “settle down”, nothing of any importance, how precisely to manage coming out to your children is not something that is discussed.
I have been lucky; some people have found their children’s reactions have not been what they hoped. But if they have always known bi / progressive / queer / unconventional people, it’s probably a lot easier.

No comments: