Q: My daughter (16) has been going through some periods of anxiety and depression. Her dad I have tried to talk to her, but she had difficulty opening up to us, so we offered to send her to a therapist so she could talk to someone about any issues she may be having.
6 months ago, I found her diary, and I read it. Part of me just wanted to get a better understanding of what she was going through, the other part was just nosy 😉
It is clear to me that my daughter is struggling with the fact that she is a lesbian and has no one to talk to this about and feels depressed and afraid of what this means for her. She currently has a boyfriend and she discusses at length how “disgusted” she is kissing him even though she knows he is physically attractive and a very nice boy. She laments how she “just wants to be normal” but also just wants to have a relationship with someone she truly feels something for.
Socially- she is concerned about how her female friends will treat her if they know her “secret”. She plays hockey and the girls are quite close and shower together after games and practices. She has many close female friends and none that I would suspect are gay.
I have always suspected that my daughter is gay and I would like to support her and know this would never change how we feel about her. She knows we are very supportive of LGBT rights (or human rights as we call it) and we are quite vocal about it.
Should I take a step in letting her know that we know or should we wait for her to let us know in her own time? I feel like she has no one to talk to (she didn’t bring it up to the therapist as mentioned in the diary)
Any advise would be apprectiated!
Thanks so much for your question, it sounds like a very conflicting situation you are in. It is evident how much you love and support your daughter, which is an amazing place to start for someone coming out or questioning their sexual orientation.
That being said, coming out is a very personal process. As much as you feel letting her know you are aware and there for her will end her struggling, this may not be the case. For many folks who end up identifying as sexually diverse, part of that struggle is personal acceptance. This may be a step she has to come to on her own before she feels comfortable sharing it with you. Your daughter may be going through a very difficult and confusing time right now, and perhaps the best thing to do for her is not confront her about what you’ve read in her diary.
Not only may she need to discover her sexuality for herself, but it sounds as though her diary is a great place for her to sort through some of the emotions that this process evokes for her. Journaling is a great method for self-care, and although to you it may be distressing to read that your daughter is experiencing these negative feelings, the act of writing it down and getting it out may be how she’s chosen to deal with things, rather than speaking to a therapist as you encouraged. Both are healthy ways of coping. Therefore, it may not be best if she thought that her diary was no longer a safe and private place for her to vent exactly what she is feeling, uncensored. Keeping her privacy shows respect, and ultimately, if or when she chooses to share that part of her life with you, the relationship you have with her may be much stronger because of it. Overall, however, it should be her decision to do so.
We are very happy to hear of your acceptance and advocacy for all human rights, and believe this will ultimately assist your daughter in her journey of self-discovery. It is important that you do not change this aspect of your life. We encourage you and your family to continue to voice your support for the LGBTQ+ community, and to find ways to incorporate diversity into your lives. For example, you could choose a film centred around a gay couple for family movie night, or check out some of Guelph Pride’s Winter Pride events together. Not only will this reiterate to your daughter your inclusiveness, but could also expose her to communities she may choose to turn to for support. Also, don’t shy away from voicing your support for gay rights when you see a related news story, and be sure to use inclusive language (like “partner” instead of “girlfriend” or boyfriend”).
This may not only be a trying time for your daughter but also for you as her parent. It sounds as though you are experiencing some anxiety about how her peer group would react to her coming out and that you are worried about her well-being. You are not alone in that, as many other parents of questioning and gender and sexually diverse children have questions, concerns, and fears about the coming out process and what the implications will be for their future. PFLAG Canada has some great resources for parents you can find here, and there’s a chapter for folks in Waterloo, Wellington, and Perth regions (find more southern Ontario chapters here). Just as you encouraged your daughter to do, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help and support if you need it.
Overall, we’re happy to hear of your love and acceptance for your daughter, no matter what she determines her sexual orientation may be. Whether that discovery comes tomorrow or a year from now, be sure to embody your support through your actions so that she may come to embrace herself for who she is, and is empowered by the freedom you have given her to do that on her own. We wish you and your family all the best throughout this journey!
– Ashley, Dillon, and Amber