Adding Grace to Family
My niece recently told me she thinks she is bisexual. She wants to come out to her father but is afraid of his reaction. She is only 11 years old, but she seems very sure of herself.
She told me she wants to announce her coming out during her upcoming birthday, and I’m not sure if this is a good idea. Her grandmother and father are very conservative, and she told me she worries they would kick her out. They have also used counseling as a threat. I told her counseling is a good thing, and it can help us cope.
I’m an important role model in her life so I want to give her all the love and support she needs. What do I do to help her father and grandmother understand that this might not be just a “phase,” and that she needs to not feel rejected by them? Any advice you can offer is appreciated as I love her so much.
As you now know, people are coming out younger today, which is opening a new vault of emotions for all involved. After all, most remember adolescence as a vulnerable time, so the thought of a child dealing with sexual orientation issues can be concerning to some parents.
Keep doing what you’re doing in being a role model for your niece. Show her all the love, support and compassion you can. Suggest she not put too much emphasis on the date of her coming out. This will cause her unnecessary pressure. Tell her to focus more on her emotions—to look for clues that she feels ready to come out versus setting a specific timeline for herself.
Meanwhile, I’d suggest talking to the dad in private. I certainly don’t want you to out your niece, but I’d encourage him to make sure his home is one of love, support and encouragement. I’d do whatever you can to make sure his home is one of unconditional love. I know this is a tough order, but being as active as you can with this family might help. Maybe enjoy weekly dinners or weekly outings together.
Once your niece comes out, you may need to offer the father and grandmother just as much support as you have your niece. Remind the adults that your niece is the same wonderful girl she has always been. Let them know that her worst fear is that of being rejected, and that she needs their love and support now more than ever. If counseling is suggested, you might want to recommend family therapy. Hell, offer to go with them! It could be a great help for the whole gang.
Part of being a role model is guiding children through adolescence—even when the going is tough. It’s not only time for dad and grandma to step up to the plate, but you’re going to have to put in more effort, too. And I think this lucky, lucky girl has just the right auntie to do it!
Nov. 24-26: Holiday Invitational Bowling Tournament (HIT) @ AMF Bowlero (11737 W. Burleigh St.): One of the most popular LGBT bowling tournaments in the country returns for its 38th year of fun! Registration opens on Thursday, followed by two days of bowling with the awards ceremony Saturday night. Want to get involved? Need to learn more? See hitmke.org for schedules, host hotel information and more on the $95 registration fee.
Nov. 25: Black Friday Party @ D.I.X. (739 S. First St.): Get your cocktail on after hitting the malls! The girls of D.I.X. Doll Haus are serving up Black Friday fun with performances along with drink specials and dancing via DJ CMK. The 10 p.m. party is free to those over 21 years of age.
Nov. 26: Thanksgivingfest and Potluck @ Milwaukee LGBT Community Center (1110 N. Market St.): Not sure what you’re doing for Thanksgiving? You’ll find the answer at this Turkey Day celebration. Enjoy all things “Thanksgiving,” including kiddy fun such as cookie decorating, art projects and more from 1 to 3:30 p.m. At 4 p.m. the buffet rolls out. Please bring a dish to pass, knowing entrées will be provided. For more information, call 414-271-2656.
Nov. 26: Undressing with the Bombshells @ Art Bar (722 E. Burleigh St.): You’ve had your turkey, now come check out a few sweet potatoes during this 9 p.m. burlesque show. Bawdy babes, Milwaukee’s sex-pert drag performances and more make this a Thanksgiving weekend to remember. The Brew City Bombshells offer a naughty night, featuring more than a dozen performers that are sure to make your Plymouth rock. (Umm…I’m not sure what that means.)
Nov. 27: Wrap it Up Party @ This Is It (418 E. Wells St.): The team at This Is It is hosting an artsy afternoon where frosty cocktails are your reward! Help the bar decorate by wrapping 10 pieces of candy, and you’ll receive a free drink. Join the fun at 5 p.m. and wrap your little heart out while candy supplies last.
Drop Ruthie a line at DearRuthie@Shepex.com and share your problems or tell her about an event she might want to share in this column.