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Conservative dad needs advise

Discussion in 'For Parents or Guardians of LGBT+ Children' started by Dad13, Sep 17, 2018.  |  Print Topic

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  1. Dad13

    Dad13 Lurker

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    My 15 year old girl told me tonight she “thinks” she “may” like girls.

    Now, I’m pretty conservative, but I have friends of all types and never have felt it’s my place to judge anyone.

    I would say my wife and I have been very successful at marriage and feel good about the way we have parented our kiddos. We are not perfect, but we love each other and our kids.

    I guess I’m here because I don’t know where to go on this one. Encourage it? Accept it?

    I’m not sure she is sure how she feels.

    I want to be supportive, but at the same time, if she is experimenting and trying to find herself I don’t feel like high school is the place to scream from the rafters “I’m gay.”

    I told her I love her, I will support her, but until she really knows how she feels she needs to keep it inside.

    Is this the wrong approach?
     
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  2. Being.
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    I'm going to tag some people who can give you better advice than myself. They should answer within the next day or so.

    AudryLeigh
    Barefoot
    Jayme82
     
  3. River W.
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    River W. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey... stuff
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    Support her in any decision she makes about this. If she decides to explore herself, and experiment, support her. If she decides not to, support her. Whatever she wants to do, support, and accept her in it. That's the best thing you can do until she figures things out. I hope this helps.
     
  4. Jayme82
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    Definitely give her all of your love and support it's true it takes time to figure things out sometimes I knew I wasn't straight at 13 did I question myself yes I did but eventually I came to the conclusion that how I felt at 13 were my true feelings
    I think alot of us at first question ourselves but we find out we have always been gay,bisexual,transgender Etc.
    So definitely give her time and give her space and let her discover who she truly is if she isn't already sure of who she is which despite what most parents like to think even at15 she may already know here true self
     
    #4 Jayme82, Sep 17, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  5. Tights_and_Skirts

    Tights_and_Skirts Reliable Contributor
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    Being a con means nothing. I’m pretty right in most of my views yet here I am. Give your daughter all the love you got and support any life decisions she makes. It the end of the day, nothing’s changed but that you be getting a daughter in law rather than a son.
    Ginny xxx
     
  6. AudryLeigh
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    Hey Dad,

    Unconditional love and support are the foundation of good parenting, with regard to anything. Kids that age seem like they'd automatically be confused, but when it comes to gender and sexuality they often know exactly who they really are. Some people experiment at that age, but if she told you she thinks she may like girls, she's probably right -- she wouldn't have mentioned it at all if she wasn't pretty certain. You must have done a good job with her -- she trusted you enough to tell you something very personal and something that people of all ages have trouble talking to anyone about, and something very many kids are afraid to tell their parents. That is a wonderful thing, and something you don't want to damage. She really needs your support -- in fact your support at this point is crucial to her future mental health. You can trust her to ask all the important questions, and she'll not be afraid to come to you, as long as you continue to love and support her, and let her know that you trust her. Actually, love, support, and trust are the trifecta of good parenting. You really need to avoid questioning her at this point. The last thing she needs right now is questioning or doubt from someone who she obviously trusts -- what she desperately needs from you right now is unquestioning support.

    The only thing you said that I'd take issue with is that she needs to keep it inside. She can't do that without risking dysphoria, which is a serious mental disease and something she has the opportunity to avoid. Dysphoria is what drives so many LGBTQ+ kids towards suicide, and it never goes away. She needs to come out to close friends -- she needs validation from he peer group. Also telling her to keep it inside can't help but carry the message that it's something to be ashamed of or that other people shouldn't know, and you don't want to plant those seeds.

    I would talk to her about not screaming this from the rooftops yet, but I'd suggest to her that she come out to close friends. Don't tell her not to come out, and don't question who she is, just remind her that until a few people know and she gets a feel for how her classmates are going to react she probably wants to keep it just among friends and family -- she doesn't want to make herself vulnerable to bullying. Also, being a lesbian is something that not everybody needs to know right off. It is something that many people eventually want everyone to know, because it is who they are, and they want to be acknowledged as who they really are, but one step at a time.

    Keep in mind, our gender (who we are) and our sexuality (preference) are things we are born with. They are a very important and fundamental part of all of us, and they don't change -- ever. Some people do have to go through a process of self discovery, but that's what it is -- discovery. None of this is a choice, which is why it's important to accept and support without question. If you question her, you'll be questioning something which is fundamental to her very being, and something she knows she can not change, so love, support and trust. And you really can trust her. She may be only 15, but a part of her knows, and knows without doubt -- you really don't want to even guide her through this period of her life -- follow her lead. Learn whatever you have to learn in order to be comfortable supporting her 110%. So very many parents end up losing their kids, maybe not physically but emotionally at this stage, and you have the opportunity to avoid that -- please don't pass it up. Let her be herself -- she can't be anyone else, and if she tries, It will leave her scared for life. The potential for a relationship disaster between you is pretty high right now, but love, support and trust will avert that, and leave you with a wonderful relationship with your daughter, for the rest of your life. You've already built a great foundation.

    You do need to know that even a lot of medical professionals don't really understand LGBTQ+ issue. Many of them think they do, but if it's not one of their specialties, their information is pretty much always outdated. A lot of "knowledge" in this field has changed, even in just the past year. LGBT organizations aren't necessarily a good source either. The Internet has caused so much bad information to be accepted as valid, when in fact, most of what you find on the Internet is at the least out dated, and at worst, just flat wrong. I know how to do proper research, and I usually don't find good information until I'm 4 or 5 pages deep in Google search results, and LGBT organizations tend to preach whatever was popularly accepted when they first organized. This is not an easy topic to keep current with. A lot of people think I'm self important and opinionated, but it's because my information is more current than theirs, and I actively fight against bad information. This stuff is crucial to peoples mental health, and sometimes to their life, so I am a stickler for current and accurate information, and some people just can't handle being wrong. A lot of people think that describes me, but I go to a great deal of trouble to know what I'm talking about, so I don't accept being told that I'm wrong unless someone shows me information from a credible source that contradicts me, and then I dig deep to find out which source is right, and I will correct myself if I'm wrong.

    I'm here pretty much every day. If something comes up that you don't want to talk about in the public forum, you can always PM me. I have two grown kids, and 21 and 8 year old granddaughters, and I have spent my retirement learning everything I can, first about myself and then about all my LGBTQ+ sisters, brothers, and others, and I've worked with a lot of kids , and quite a few parents in just about every conceivable situation. And I don't say things I don't know to be accurate -- if I do, I always label it as "just my opinion."

    Sorry this is so long. People around here joke that "Audry doesn't know how to write a short post." It's not really a joke, it's pretty much true, but I wanted to do my best to calm your worries, and let you know that it really is safe to trust your daughter in this. It's almost impossible for most people to believe that kids this age know what they are doing in any area, but when it comes to self awareness, many kids -- especially those who don't fit the mold -- know way more than you'd think. I have a 13 year old girl in Ireland who is M2F transsexual, and she knows exactly who she is, and her mother's refusal to accept who she really is lead to two very serious suicide attempts in two weeks -- and her mother still couldn't accept her daughter. With the help of a couple of other members here, and some serious divine intervention, we got her sister in Ireland (she had been in London) to come and get her and take her away from the toxic environment she was in and take back to Ireland with her. She's still on my suicide watch list, but is doing so much better. She's actually the most amazing turn around I know of, and I was so worried so many times that I'd lost her. Your daughter is a very lucky girl, and I think you are doing an impressive job as a parent.

    Hugs,
    Audry Leigh
     
  7. AudryLeigh
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    Hey Dad,

    Unconditional love and support are the foundation of good parenting, with regard to anything. Kids that age seem like they'd automatically be confused, but when it comes to gender and sexuality they often know exactly who they really are. Some people experiment at that age, but if she told you she thinks she may like girls, she's probably right -- she wouldn't have mentioned it at all if she wasn't pretty certain. You must have done a good job with her -- she trusted you enough to tell you something very personal and something that people of all ages have trouble talking to anyone about, and something very many kids are afraid to tell their parents. That is a wonderful thing, and something you don't want to damage. She really needs your support -- in fact your support at this point is crucial to her future mental health. You can trust her to ask all the important questions, and she'll not be afraid to come to you, as long as you continue to love and support her, and let her know that you trust her. Actually, love, support, and trust are the trifecta of good parenting. You really need to avoid questioning her at this point. The last thing she needs right now is questioning or doubt from someone who she obviously trusts -- what she desperately needs from you right now is unquestioning support.

    The only thing you said that I'd take issue with is that she needs to keep it inside. She can't do that without risking dysphoria, which is a serious mental disease and something she has the opportunity to avoid. Dysphoria is what drives so many LGBTQ+ kids towards suicide, and it never goes away. She needs to come out to close friends -- she needs validation from he peer group. Also telling her to keep it inside can't help but carry the message that it's something to be ashamed of or that other people shouldn't know, and you don't want to plant those seeds.

    I would talk to her about not screaming this from the rooftops yet, but I'd suggest to her that she come out to close friends. Don't tell her not to come out, and don't question who she is, just remind her that until a few people know and she gets a feel for how her classmates are going to react she probably wants to keep it just among friends and family -- she doesn't want to make herself vulnerable to bullying. Also, being a lesbian is something that not everybody needs to know right off. It is something that many people eventually want everyone to know, because it is who they are, and they want to be acknowledged as who they really are, but one step at a time.

    Keep in mind, our gender (who we are) and our sexuality (preference) are things we are born with. They are a very important and fundamental part of all of us, and they don't change -- ever. Some people do have to go through a process of self discovery, but that's what it is -- discovery. None of this is a choice, which is why it's important to accept and support without question. If you question her, you'll be questioning something which is fundamental to her very being, and something she knows she can not change, so love, support and trust. And you really can trust her. She may be only 15, but a part of her knows, and knows without doubt -- you really don't want to even guide her through this period of her life -- follow her lead. Learn whatever you have to learn in order to be comfortable supporting her 110%. So very many parents end up losing their kids, maybe not physically but emotionally at this stage, and you have the opportunity to avoid that -- please don't pass it up. Let her be herself -- she can't be anyone else, and if she tries, It will leave her scared for life. The potential for a relationship disaster between you is pretty high right now, but love, support and trust will avert that, and leave you with a wonderful relationship with your daughter, for the rest of your life. You've already built a great foundation.

    You do need to know that even a lot of medical professionals don't really understand LGBTQ+ issue. Many of them think they do, but if it's not one of their specialties, their information is pretty much always outdated. A lot of "knowledge" in this field has changed, even in just the past year. LGBT organizations aren't necessarily a good source either. The Internet has caused so much bad information to be accepted as valid, when in fact, most of what you find on the Internet is at the least out dated, and at worst, just flat wrong. I know how to do proper research, and I usually don't find good information until I'm 4 or 5 pages deep in Google search results, and LGBT organizations tend to preach whatever was popularly accepted when they first organized. This is not an easy topic to keep current with. A lot of people think I'm self important and opinionated, but it's because my information is more current than theirs, and I actively fight against bad information. This stuff is crucial to peoples mental health, and sometimes to their life, so I am a stickler for current and accurate information, and some people just can't handle being wrong. A lot of people think that describes me, but I go to a great deal of trouble to know what I'm talking about, so I don't accept being told that I'm wrong unless someone shows me information from a credible source that contradicts me, and then I dig deep to find out which source is right, and I will correct myself if I'm wrong.

    I'm here pretty much every day. If something comes up that you don't want to talk about in the public forum, you can always PM me. I have two grown kids, and 21 and 8 year old granddaughters, and I have spent my retirement learning everything I can, first about myself and then about all my LGBTQ+ sisters, brothers, and others, and I've worked with a lot of kids , and quite a few parents in just about every conceivable situation. And I don't say things I don't know to be accurate -- if I do, I always label it as "just my opinion."

    Sorry this is so long. People around here joke that "Audry doesn't know how to write a short post." It's not really a joke, it's pretty much true, but I wanted to do my best to calm your worries, and let you know that it really is safe to trust your daughter in this. It's almost impossible for most people to believe that kids this age know what they are doing in any area, but when it comes to self awareness, many kids -- especially those who don't fit the mold -- know way more than you'd think. I have a 13 year old girl in Ireland who is M2F transsexual, and she knows exactly who she is, and her mother's refusal to accept who she really is lead to two very serious suicide attempts in two weeks -- and her mother still couldn't accept her daughter. With the help of a couple of other members here, and some serious divine intervention, we got her sister in Ireland (she had been in London) to come and get her and take her away from the toxic environment she was in and take back to Ireland with her. She's still on my suicide watch list, but is doing so much better. She's actually the most amazing turn around I know of, and I was so worried so many times that I'd lost her. Your daughter is a very lucky girl, and I think you are doing an impressive job as a parent.

    Hugs,
    Audry Leigh
     
  8. Carlita
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    Carlita I simply am not there
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    Actually no. Thats a good approach. With anything sensitive it would be less of a consequence when she understand Who she is and how her family (culture, religion, environment) accepts her or have a healthy disagreement to only one part of her rather than her as a human being.

    Unfortunately, we cant split ourselves up like Im a gay woman. Im an artist. and Im a graduate; because, these things (values) are a part of us. So, support and tell her how you feel about her exploration time and how you feel about her as a person.

    She may bring it up more often or so; but, remember youre talking to your daughter rather than a part of her over the whole. Im sure you may not care for (example), the music she listens to, but Im sure you may not question her tastes unless, maybe, she plays the stereo too loud.

    Also, if she is in that experiement phase, talk to her about safety with beings someone (if appropriate) and dont specificaly aim at women but just sexual actions in general. When she is older, you can get a better idea of how she relates to women on an interaction level; and, address what you believe is unhealthy without focusing on the sex she is with or is around.

    Basically, what Im saying is if you have concerns, want to support her, or if there are conservative beliefs you want to hold in the family, talk and discuss it without descriminating between male and female.

    Unless she brings it up, then of course. If not, (being blunt) dont put her on the spot.

    In my experience, my mother still sterotypes. My father is consevative too (well, finally in his latter years) and doesnt accept me but they both still talk to me as a human. My father is working on it though. It takes time.

    You wont agree to everything. Cues;

    1. It isnt a behavior: Address how she feels and her as a person rather than what she does unless it will harm her or whatever immediate concerns you have.

    2. If religion is important in the family, show her the areas that focus on her as a person and then explain the areas that focus on her behavior rather than her as a person. Sometimes religious get identity and behavior mixed up. Support Who she is, make sure she is safe (of course), be honest with your disagreements, and remind her you love her.
     
  9. Dad13

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    Thanks for the advise from all of you. My daughter will have the support of both her parents should this be her path.

    Is it ok to talk more in depth with her (without leading her) to see if I can help her process her thoughts more clearly? In other words, she does not sound to me that she is convinced she is a lesbian. I get the sense there could be a lean towards bisexual. She says she thinks she is into girls primarily because of her experience with her only boyfriend.

    I must tell you, her boyfriend is clearly gay and is likely on a struggle of his own to figure it out, so her sample size is a bit sideways. Again, I don’t want to lead her.

    I have many concerns, but most of them I realize are because a father wants his kids to be able to experience the things that have filled my life with joy. I understand this is her journey, not mine. Ultimately I want her to find her happiness and I can deal with it not being the one I had hoped she would have.

    At this point I don’t want to make her internalize things as much as I want her to take the right steps. I feel like she needs to realize the risks in telling her friends. She should understand that not all people will be ok with it. She may lose friends she thinks she is close to because they can’t process or understand her situation. High school is likely the most judgmental atmosphere she will ever encounter.

    I just don’t want her get the false confidence that because her parents have her back everyone will.
     
  10. Carlita
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    Carlita I simply am not there
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    Believe me, when you get older and look back on your experiences, you go Oh-Who what have Thunk? I am gay.

    Ha. But seriously Dad13 When she gets older and looks back on her experiences at least she remembers her dad loved at that time of questioning. Wherever she would be, at least she believes the same.
     
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  11. RiverChrone
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    Totally absolutely right approach.

    I don't know what your daughter's high school environment is like, but it's my guess that it's full of people who are trying to find themselves and figure out who they are. It's probably a good place for her to talk to others. I know that has a Blind Leading the Blind sort of feel to it, but I think that's part of growing up.

    Hats off to you for being the loving dad who wants to learn more and so comes to sites like this. Your daughter is a lucky woman.
     
  12. Thief King Bakura
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    Hey Dad13, How are you? Honestly the fact that you have reached out and seeking advice on how to support your daughter is very amazing. I wished I had a dad like you. That being said; just being there, supporting her when she eventually comes out, and letting her know she's loved. That's the most important thing of all. Being conservative has nothing to do with loving and supporting your children.

    I didn't choose to be transsexual, I didn't choose to be born in the wrong body but it is what it is. The point is, I would have given my right hand to have my own father's support. But the point is I don't. You have a chance to be someone important that your daughter goes to guidance and support. There are studies out there that daughters need their fathers as much as they need their mothers. Fathers are the ones that give daughters the guidance and support and shape how she feels about herself later in life. I don't think she's going to have any trouble with you looking out for her and loving her. You've already have accepted her. Now show her that she's loved unconditionally.

    Too many times do ignorant parents let religion, politics, or other people's influence dictate on whether they accept or reject their LGBTQ children. This later effects their mental health, self esteem, etc. These parents disown their LGBTQ kids because they think it's "against God" to love their children who are gay/bi/lesbian/trans/etc. Then disown them. I don't think God would be happy to know that his children are out there feeling unloved by their families. That being said, I don't think that will be an issue here. I just was.merely pointing out that many of us have gotten rejected by our families, I was one of them.

    Unconditional love is all you need. Just letting her know that you're in her corner is the best thing you can do. Politics and religion have nothing to do with loving your children and accepting them for who they are.
     
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  13. AudryLeigh
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    Since she already came to you about this, I think you can trust her to bring up anything she needs to talk to you about. Kids only talk about these things when they are in the right frame of mind, and I think initiating a conversation would just make her feel like she was being put on the spot. If she looks distressed or confused, you can always ask if there's something she needs to talk about, but you may get, "Not now," as a response.

    Unless you live in a very conservative area, I think RiverChrone is probably right. High School these days is not what it used to be and at her age her peer group is very important to her, and there probably are a lot of kids going through similar struggles -- talking to them is probably a good way for her to sort herself out. Even though you have a good relationship, you can't know what she's really going through -- you never will be able to. Being LGBT is one of those things that no one can ever really understand, unless they are LGBT themselves, and gay people cannot ever really understand transsexuals either, and vice versa. You can understand it intellectually, but not at all viscerally. It's clear that she loves you and trusts you, and feels loved, but she really needs to be around people her own age who are going through the same thing.

    You can expect some periods of dysphoria, but they shouldn't last more than a few days, at most. Dysphoria and depression are almost the same thing. With depression there is situational depression and chronic depression. Everyone has situational depression from things like losing a loved one, but they get over it. Situational depression is a condition which passes, chronic depression is a disease, and usually lasts for life. Dysphoria is the same way. If she has a setback like being rejected by a friend who she thought would accept and support her, she may fall into a dysphoric slump for a few days, but it should pass. If that happens and it lasts a week, you should get her in to see a counselor. Since she can talk to you, this probably won't happen, but if it does it is not something you can fix -- you (she) will need professional help. Kids who do have the support of their parents rarely get close to that line where situational turns into chronic, but if she should, you need to act right away.

    I hope this has been helpful.

    Hugs,
    Audry Leigh
     
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  14. Barefoot
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    I agree with the above.
     
  15. Thief King Bakura
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    I agree with you agreeing, Barefoot-sama :D 
     
  16. angel70
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    Although not what anybody would call conservative, I am a dad, and my advice to you will be practical rather than ideological or philosophical. When your daughter told you she "thinks" she "may" like girls, it most likely means she likes girls, and expressed it as a possibility so she could judge your response. If she were less than certain, she'd have said nothing. It was courageous of her to tell you, but also a testament to the strength of your relationship -- she's confident of your love, and that's great.

    Gay boys and girls sometimes "couple up" in high school, both as a form of protective coloration and as a way of deflecting unwanted advances from straight kids. Your daughter's gay "boyfriend" rather confirms her sexuality -- but it also suggests that the atmosphere in her high school may not be all that accepting of LGBT kids. You know what kind of community you live in -- conservative or progressive, religious or secular, etc. Your daughter, of course, understands the attitudes at her school better than you do, and it has to be her decision whether or not to come out to some or all of her friends. If her school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, though, you should encourage her to join.

    Just knowing that you know -- and that you're accepting -- might be all the validation she needs at the moment. Do you best to be genuinely accepting -- which requires that you refrain from making obsessive mental lists of all the things that possibly could go wrong for a girl who's a lesbian. Don't worry! The world has changed, and continues to change, and there are plenty of places to live and work where being gay is just another boring detail of a person's life. She'll be fine!

    If she wants further discussion with you, she'll bring it up -- don't push it. Just let her know that if she ever needs back-up, for one reason or another, you'll be there.
     
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    #16 angel70, Sep 18, 2018
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  17. Aiqe
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    Hey Dad :) 

    It's good to see you here, it tells a lot about you that you ask for advice here!

    Personally, I think it could be a good idea for you and/or your daughter to watch films or read books with lesbian/bisexual characters. So you could talk about these later. And maybe that'll help her realise who she is (whereas I'm okay with the others: if she already came out to you, she is pretty certain) and help you understand her a little more :) 
    The only thing is, this shouldn't be too much "We will watch a film where someone is gay" but maybe you'll find a film you find interesting anyways and can talk about later. You know what I mean?

    Your daughter might be lesbian or bisexual. You can't figure that out because the fact that she had a boyfriend once doesn't really help here :) 
    Personally, at the age of 12/ 13 I knew I was into girls. For about a year or so I thought I was a lesbian but then I fell for a guy and that made me think I was totally strange/crazy. How could I not even be a 'normal' lesbian? Took me some time to realise people can be bisexual and that's what I am. So maybe a film with a bisexual character would be good to watch and talk about, too. I'm going to see whether I know some films or books I could recommend. Maybe the other forum users can help me :) 

    The point is: representation in media would have helped me! Show her: There are other people out there like you.

    Congratulations to your good relationship with your daughter :) 

    edit: Just saw there's a new film at the cinemas about a French author who was bisexual. Played by Keira Knightley. The title is "Colette". I haven't seen it but you could watch a trailer to see if that would be a good film for you?
     
    #17 Aiqe, Sep 19, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  18. verysupergay

    verysupergay Greenhorn
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    Her being gay or bisexual won't hurt anyone. If you're supportive then I'm proud of you.

    Love is love. Happiness is something that is usually hidden. I'm happy she told you. You must be a great father.

    Good for you.
     
  19. Skylar657
    Anime Lover

    Skylar657 Greenhorn
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    Support her, because she will love who she does, no matter what you say, and nothing you say can change that. You either have to accept her, or you have to lose her. She just wants you to respect her, and make her feel comfortable in her own skin. (I know this sounded a little aggressive but that's not what the tone of voice is meant to be like, I don't mean to criticize, just to state my opinion)
     
  20. MikaIsAHuman
    Musical

    MikaIsAHuman Human...maybe?
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    Experimenting is a big part of finding out who you are.
    I would allow her to experiment with who she is and find out in time.

    High school is tough, trust me I know.
    I have a friend who believed she was bisexual but when she dated a female she realised that wasn't what she was unto and that was what helped her find out who she was.

    Again with me, I always believed I was straight and I wasn't allowed to date females until I decided to experiment and I dated a girl for a few months and it helped me find out that...I'm not straight.

    I would let her experiment a bit with those around her and find out who she likes and then what she is.

    Hope this helps.
    Mika.
     

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