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How to cope when your child isn’t heterosexual 

So recently, our daughter told us that she has a girlfriend and so I thought I’d do a little post about how to cope with this news.

I’m kidding, coping means dealing with a difficult situation. I don’t need to cope with this, it just is and it makes no difference at all to our relationship!

My daughter is an awesome human being, she is kind, caring, funny, intelligent, curious, exciting, passionate, loving, brave, beautiful and a total badass warrior queen.  She makes me so happy and proud for all of these reasons and so her relationships bear no relevance to how I feel about her.

All I have ever wanted is for my children to be happy.  And my role in her coming out is to ensure that she knows that we love and support her in all that she does.

We’ve talked a lot, she’s very open and honest with us and so we give her the same respect back. I have told her that as a heterosexual woman, I can’t know how she feels, but that I am willing to listen, learn and support.  I ask questions, I hear her answers and tell her that though I may not know the answer to any questions she might have, that I can damn sure try to find out.

I told her that as her mum, I hope she can always come to me, but if she feels she can’t, we can talk about adults who she can trust and speak to in privacy.

Has it changed anything? Certainly not in our relationship apart from me realising that she is growing up and dating.  Does it change anything for me personally? I suppose I feel more sensitive to comments I hear about sexuality and homophobia. I have lots of LGBTQ+ friends and would stand up with them against prejudice but it’s probably made me more aware of that prejudice.

when your child is pansexual

It made me check my privilege and realise that my sexuality isn’t questioned by others. That I never worry about holding hands with my partner or showing affection in public. It makes me realise that my sexuality is never an issue for people or up for discussion.

I suppose I do feel slightly more protective to her, I want to be able to shield and defend her from any comments that will upset her.

Some responses I have had, or others have told me about have been:

“It’s a difficult life she will have now”

“Oh, but you’ll never have a big white wedding for her”

“Is it a phase?”

“What about grandchildren?”

“She’s very young to make these choices”

I find these all pretty bonkers.  The wedding and children ones make zero sense. Firstly, I never assumed that she would marry or have children, she may choose not to do either whatever gender her partner is.  And those are things that can happen whoever she is with!

“Is it a phase?” She has told us she is pansexual, this means you are attracted to the person, not the gender. So she may date men, women or transgender men or women in the future. She says she doesn’t know what her future holds but she doesn’t want to rule anything out.  So if by phase, you mean, could she date men in the future, the answer is yes. If you mean, is she trying something new, the answer is yes, this is new.  It makes me uncomfortable for others to question her motives, it’s kind of none of your business.

“It’s a difficult life she will have.” Fuck, life IS difficult! But I’m fairly certain it is more difficult to live a life where you hide your true feelings.  Could she face prejudice in her life. Of course. She’s a woman. It’s going to happen regardless of who she dates.  Does adding pansexuality to the mix mean she could face more prejudice? Yes. But that really is society’s issue and not her burden to bear.

“She’s very young to make these choices” Sexuality isn’t a choice. I never made a conscious decision to be straight, it’s just who I am and it’s the same for her. She isn’t making choices, she is expressing her feelings.

when your child is pansexual

As a half Indian, disabled, working class woman, I have had my fair share of prejudice and it’s not a nice feeling to know others are judging you on aspects of yourself that you have no control over and the same goes for my daughter and her sexuality.

Are you allowed your opinion? Of course! But I’ll warn you now, never bring a negative opinion about this onto my child. Because I’ll go mama bear on your ass and it won’t be pretty…

The only genuine advice I would give to any parents who have recently found out their child is LGBTQ+ is to be open, genuine and accept that you may not be the only person your child needs right now, get googling, there are support groups for kids who may want to talk, my daughter is going to an LGBTQ+ youth club.  Also remember that this isn’t about you.  It’s about them so make them the centre of your thoughts and feelings.

I think something my daughter has appreciated is that we are asking her questions, she’s the only expert of how she is feeling and so I am treating her as such.  In doing this, we can show her that we accept, appreciate and listen to her and that we know we can learn from her.

I am very proud of her, she is a fantastic person and always has been, her passion for learning, kindness of spirit and beautiful soul have ensured that pride.  Yet now Pride has a capital letter in our relationship because her pansexuality is something that changes nothing between us, yet is a huge part of who she is.

So here’s to my daughter, my wonderful, hilarious, intelligent, pansexual queen of a daughter.
Sam xx 

"She has a prosthetic leg anyway…" Disability shaming

The Avengers – Age of Ultron press tour has kicked off and some questionable comments from Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans are overshadowing the film itself.  When asked about Scarlett Johannson’s character the Black Widow they called her a “slut”, because this is acceptable right?

These actors discussing what is essentially a children’s movie calling a female character a slut and a trick shows the levels of sexism in our current climate. It has also been discussed that the female characters of many films are not promoted in the merchandise.

Sexism is rife in Hollywood and has been written about a lot but one comment that stood out for me was when discussing how the female character Natasha Romanoff has a romance with someone other than him, Jeremy Renner says;

“She has a prosthetic leg anyway”  The inference being that he wouldn’t want to date a woman with a disability.

*SLOW HAND CLAP FOR RENNER*

They may be joking but this easy sexism and ablism has an impact on how society sees women, especially women with a disability.  His laughter at the idea of having a relationship with someone with a prosthesis is offensive and reinforces old fashioned and ridiculous ideas that people with a disability can’t be a sexual being or be found attractive.

Watch the interview here…

Well screw you Jenner… Living with a disability is fucking hard and having over paid, ignorant men openly mocking it is wrong.  For those reading this with an illness or disability, don’t let it make you sad, allow yourself to get angry and speak out.  More and more I find myself championing campaigns for people with disability and I think we should call out people who use casual ablism, who make disability the butt of their jokes.

My campaign #MoreThanMeetsTheEye is about bringing disability into the public eye, about encouraging kindness and openness, about getting people to open up and talk to reduce stigma and getting society to understand.

I blogged last week about how I had been called out on “sexualising disability”, I argue that I am simply normalising illness, my sexuality is a part of me and my illness doesn’t stop that.  At a talk I did for the Seven Hills WI, a lady came up to me afterwards and said “you had your colon removed not your clitoris”, after doing a big spluttering laugh I totally agreed!

sam cleasby sexualising disability

But society doesn’t seem to want to see people with disabilities as sexual beings.  Perhaps it makes them uncomfortable?  I came across a great bloke on twitter called Andrew Morrison Gurza who runs a campaign called #DeliciouslyDisabled getting people talking about sex and disability.  It’s amazing and I implore you to go follow him on twitter now!

#deliciouslydisabled

 

The more we allow these sorts of comments to slip, the easier it is for society to make people with illnesses and disabilities feel like outsiders, to isolate them and create an environment where it is ok to mock those different to us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Sam x

Objectified or flattered?

This is an article I wrote for parenting website Bad Mothers Club a few years ago, for more information see my PR friendly page.

funny parenting quote

The age of innocence seems to be ebbing away in my house. When asking my seven year old son what he thought of his new teacher, I did not expect him to answer:

“She’s OK, not as fit as Miss Smith though.”

My poor naive brain thought he must be referring to the amount of time she spends on the treadmill and I mumbled a sheepish reply that Miss Smith did indeed seem quite sporty. After bursting into giggles he put me right by letting me know that the general consensus at school was that she was a ‘Fitty’.

When did my sweet innocent child turn into this hormonal creature?? He’ll be reading some God awful lads’ mag and wolf whistling at girls in the playground next.

The left wing, lentil munching hippy came out in me and I tried to discuss how we shouldn’t objectify women in this manner, how Miss Smith was a highly trained, intelligent woman who was a wonderful, caring teacher.

“I agree mummy, but she’s still a hotty!” Charlie happily replied.

This contrast between the grown up phrases coming out of his mouth and the little boy stood in front of me who cried yesterday because he couldn’t finish the last level on his Spongebob game is confusing to say the least.

I thought I was doing so well at sex education, my husband and I decided we would be open and honest and answer any questions they may have with no embarrassment or fibbing about storks. We have talked about how babies are made, about vaginas (though I still hate that word) and penises (or is that peni??). We have looked through a variety of sex ed books aimed at children with the minimal amount of pointing and giggling. I have also had the pleasure of explaining to my then five year old why his willy gets hard sometimes.

But I hadn’t even thought about the social side of sex. Yet in an age where they are completely surrounded by sexual messages, and when they hear older children imitating language they hear on TV, is it any wonder we have a generation of seven year olds who are teens before their time?

So we sit down for a chat, he senses immediately that something is not right and wriggles restlessly, casting a yearning eye towards his games console.

“Son” I say, “when you get older you may start to feel attracted to girls” (The thought that he may be attracted to boys crosses my mind but let’s not complicate things for now.)

“Don’t worry Mummy, I’m always going to live with you,” he says.

“Well, no, you probably won’t,” I say. “When you grow up you will find a girl who you fall in love with and you’ll might want to get married and have your own house. And er, well, the point is that you may find girls attractive but you must treat them with respect. They may not like being referred to as ‘Fitties’.”

“Mummy” he sighs, looking at me as a patient father would an idiot. “Is this because I called Miss Smith a fitty?”

“Well yes. I understand you may hear these phrases but they are not really appropriate.”

He gets up, pats me on the thigh, kisses my cheek and says,

“Don’t worry, Mummy, I think you’re a fitty too!”

Did I feel objectified or flattered? I’m still working on it.

Love Sam xx