Saturday, June 12, 2021

Autism Answer: Sexuality is Often Fluid



It is #PRIDE month. If the energy and camaraderie of this gives your child the confidence or desire to come out, to tell their family and friends that they are gay, trans, nonbinary, bisexual, asexual, queer - I have a simple suggestion.
Believe them. Accept their version of who they tell you they are, appreciate the courage they are showing, and give them space to discover. 
Keep in mind, sexuality is often fluid. So if your child is gay today and nonbinary tomorrow, don't presume it's because they're making it up or just trying to jump on a trend. It's quite likely they're simply evolving. 

If your child has been afraid to reveal their sexuality and struggled to understand it quietly then they have also been building walls and inventing stories to change, accept, challenge, hate, and love themselves. Coming out doesn't magically make those narratives disappear or push them easily into the past.
And yes, as with all of our children, (but not us adults, no, never us adults) they could be jumping on a trend. It could be they want so bad to be an ally they take on a role, or they want attention, or they're simply curious.  It can be tempting as parents to aggressively try to figure out which it is but that's a mistake. 
Most of our children are going to try on identities in reaction to trends, and most of them will do things, make memories, that create issues they'll have to deal with. But ultimately we help our youth most when we accept who they are, ask how we can be good allies, and imagine futures where they are who they say they are. 
In this environment of acceptance and freedom I believe our children are most likely to change in their own healthiest and happiest directions. It may be that they continue to be bisexual or asexual. It may be that they are and always have been gay. It may be that they don't quite know who or how they love but they do want love. I don't think this means we stay completely hands off and just nod in acceptance as they work to figure out who they are, particularly where our more socially challenged loved ones are concerned. This is a time when our guidance is especially important. (Though, admittedly, appropriate appreciation from our teens and young adults will almost certainly be severely lacking. 😃)
I think we're likely to be the most helpful to our kids by knowing we love them, knowing we want them to be caring and to be cared for in any relationship, and moving forward with them and that in mind.
In this environment I believe our children, our families, and our societies are most likely to change in their own healthiest and inclusive directions.