By Brenda Hooley – I would first like to introduce myself and my children. I’m Brenda, the Mama Dragon of three baby ducks—I’ve called my kids my baby ducks for many years. My kids are T (27), M (24), and S (21). I also have a grandson who turns 5 this week. The youngest two are my LGBTQ+ babies. I was a single mom through most of their growing up which was challenging, but also very rewarding. My main goal was to raise productive, loving, and caring human beings – and I am proud to say that I accomplished just that. They really are great kids.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when our journey with LGBTQ+ began. I mean, it seems like one experience flows into another. If I am honest, the autism journey with my youngest, along with our mental illness situation with my middle child, have been far more significant and stressful than our current journey (these are stories for other blogs.)
I definitely don’t mean to downplay anyone’s reality at all; I know by reading and speaking with other parents how painful and stressful this journey can be. My kids are also older, so I’m sure that makes a difference in our experience than with someone with school-aged children. I did learn how to advocate for my children because of the autism and mental illness. I am not afraid to take on a school or any other group for that matter. If any negative issues arise from their sexuality, I am at least prepared to defend them.
We lived in Southeast Idaho for most of their growing up. After my oldest graduated high school, the younger two and I moved to St. Louis, then a small town called Louisiana in Missouri, where we lived for 7 years. We moved back to SE Idaho two years ago to be near family.
I was raised LDS and all three kids were baptized. Of course, while living in Idaho, we were surrounded by LDS church members. Being a single parent, I often felt like an outsider. I let the kids choose their own religious affiliation as they got older; I tried not to pound any one religion into their heads. I have recently officially left my church due to a number of personal and heartfelt reasons.
It is kind of interesting that my oldest is the one I most expected to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and he is my only straight child. My middle child, M, also my only girl, came out as bisexual, while my youngest, S, first came out as bisexual, then asexual. Bisexuality was easy to grasp and wrap my head around, but asexuality was harder for me to understand. I am a true Scorpio, so a person saying they have no interest in sex just blew my mind. He has now discovered that he is demi-sexual and pan-romantic. What? I didn’t even know what either of those meant. I’ve had a lot of questions but I find the more I ask, the more I learn and understand. We are good.
M has come out pretty publicly and she really has not caught any negativity from this. She figured out she was bi-sexual around her sophomore year in high school. I somewhat suspected, but wanted her to tell me when she was ready. My son, S, has come out to only a select number of people within the past few years. He stated he has always felt different when it came to sexuality. Currently, he is concerned it may cause issues in the workplace as his immediate supervisor is not a very open person.
Both kids have felt comfortable talking to me and opening up to me. Our family motto is, “No matter what”. We take this motto very seriously. Our home was also where many kids came to chill or to sleep if things at home were going rough for them. My daughter has also had many friends come out to her before they came out to their own parents. These kids always knew they would be loved and accepted in our home.
Any parents with younger “baby dragons” may be comforted to know that your babies will eventually get more comfortable with themselves. Being open with your children and asking them questions in a loving manner are two of my biggest pieces of advice. The absolute best thing a parent can do for their children is to love and accept them “no matter what”. We created our babies, we gave birth to them, they were put into our care. Our job is to raise them, care for them, and to love them.
I am always willing to help any Mama Dragons or Baby Dragons with this journey. I also know that my kids will be a support to any other LGBTQ+ kids who may feel like no one understands them. Life is hard, but it’s easier with people who care.