This is our truth, tell us yours
This article, in the Guardian /Observer arts section, begs as many questions as it answers.
I have a child. We have never discussed if I am bi, or gay, or something else. There again, I have never discussed with them whether they are gay, or bi. I know my child has sex with, or at least sexual attractions to, more than one gender. My child knows that their mother is bi; when you live with your mother, and know that you have a father who was sexually attractive to your mother, and that your mother now has a girlfriend, the logical conclusion is obvious. I have always kept my sex life outside the house my child visits, when they visit, and in more recent years have gone one step further, so that my child never sees my sex partners. This is my way of being a father, not about my sexuality, and not just about my experiences.
My child knows that I would be disappointed if they thought less of anyone for being bi, or gay, or asexual. It’s as close as we get to an article of faith in my house, that you see the person, not the person they sleep with. We have talked often about how sex is the worst reason for starting a relationship, and not the best reason for ending one. We talk with a wry amusement about their refusal to be labelled while at uni, about a desire to not belong to a sexual tribe.
Our family has been built on a careful attention to the narrative of the family. It doesn’t matter who I sleep with as much as how we, me and the child’s mother, handled the process of telling our child we didn’t want to sleep together any more. Who we want to sleep with is irrelevant compared to our decision that we didn’t want to sleep together. We didn’t always get that right, and I have told my child that. I made a mess of some parts of the story, and the child’s mother didn’t always cover herself in glory either.
However, we’ve reached a point where the human story , of the mistakes we made and the story we tell about them is less important than our futures. If your family’s story is about your mother’s sexuality, you may not yet have reached that point.
There’s a further point to be made. We don’t formalize our discussions about this. My child has learned more from hearing me argue with the TV news than from being lectured by me. If you need to have formal family discussions about basic principles, about sexuality, about not judging, about trust and love, you don’t have a problem with those issues, you have problems with being a family.