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My twelve-year-old daughter came out to me as gay last summer. When I wrongly assumed she meant she was a homosexual, she corrected me with, “No, Mom, gay is anything other than straight. I am actually panromantic and asexual.” What??? Once again, I was confused, having come of age in the 1980s. I asked her what “pan” meant and how it was different from “bi.” She explained that “bi” means liking men and women, while pan means you like anyone, including those who identify as transgender.
Ali, I accept my daughter, whomever she chooses romantically and however she chooses to define herself, but I feel a little out of my comfort zone in this area. How do I discuss her sexuality with her, and DO I discuss it?
Puzzled Mom in La La Land
Dear La La Mom,
First of all, you rock!! How lucky is this kid that she has a mom that is so wonderfully open-minded, accepting, and willing to LEARN! I think all of these terms and identifiers should be part of our basic education. I am happy to hear that you asked HER to define her terms. You made her the expert of herself which is really empowering to a kid. Nice work, Mom! Sounds like she did a great job defining what these terms mean to her. She’s attracted to all people. But, she’s 12. More than likely, she is only just beginning puberty or hasn’t even started yet. This may not be a sexual thing. She might just be a super loving person with the 2017 social media driven education to describe it! How great is that?
At 12, being panromantic (feeling loving toward all people) and asexual (not feeling sexual) is just right!! We would hope that she’s not yet sexually active. But I bet that she won’t always feel asexual. She is still so young.
Should you discuss her sexuality with her? ABSOLUTELY!! From whom else would you want her to learn? Or, in this case, she is the teacher. She is young, but clearly her vocabulary and knowledge is broad, so maybe you can teach each other and keep those lines of communication wide open as she navigates these upcoming teenage years. Be sure to discuss safety with her – protecting her sweet loving heart AND her body.
Sadly, the LGBTQ (and those identifying anywhere out of the norm) are at risk for such things as depression, substance use, suicide, and homelessness because they are unsupported by their families. I wish all of these kids had supportive loving parents like you!