A concerned reader thinks her granddaughter is faking being gay. Here's my advice.

'I'm sorry, I just don't believe she's gay.'

Doubting someone is gay doesn't always stem from thinking being gay is "wrong."

But that doubt can still be really destructive, even if the doubter doesn't mean to be.

A reader of mine wrote in asking for some advice. She has one granddaughter who is gay, and whom the reader felt she always knew was gay. But her younger granddaughter says she is too, and since her preference seemed to develop differently, the grandmother is doubtful.


Is it just a phase? Image by Marco Gomes/Wikimedia Commons.

"Dear Angie, I am a proud grandmother of 14. I am writing you about my 16-year-old granddaughter. We are very close. She usually tells [me] everything that's on her mind. This case is no different. She recently told me she's lesbian. She says she isn't sexually active in any form, heterosexual or homosexual. I have a 23-year-old granddaughter who is homosexual as well. I explained to the 16-year-old, like I explained to the 23-year-old -- it didn't matter to me, I love them the same. I knew my 23-year-old was a lesbian when she was 12. Because of her reactions when boys spoke to her [and because] she never talked about male celebrities, like teenage girls usually do. One day, the 23-year-old granddaughter and I were on a shopping trip, a boy about the same age walked up and gave her his phone number and asked for hers, she had a look on her face like she wanted to tear her skin off. She was 13 at the time."

It's clear from what Grandmom is telling us that this isn't her first rodeo recognizing and loving a gay grandchild. Now that she's set the stage, she explains why her younger granddaughter's case seems different.

"My 16-year-old granddaughter's case is no where like this. She used to talk about boys, she used talk to me about teenage male actors that she thought were cute to her. In fact, she blushed when one of her grandpa's guitar students bought her candy, chips and a soda from a local convenience store.Is my 16-year-old granddaughter going through a phase? Or is she just trying to shock me and her parents? I'm sorry, I just don't believe she's gay. None of the signs were there! I think she's doing this to fit in with this group of girls that think being gay is in fashion. What are your thoughts on this? I really feel she's not being true to herself. By the way, I also have a niece that is the same age doing the same!" — Not-Buying-It Nana

This is a big, loaded question.

First, I want to say I really admire Nana for seeking more information before she makes up her mind about how to proceed. It shows she really cares a great deal about getting this right and being there for her granddaughter in the most useful way possible. Not everybody has the wherewithal to do that, and I really respect it.

There are three main things I hope Nana considers here, but the third one is a big one and can apply to just about any kid in your life who tells you something about themselves.

1. Let's talk about the Kinsey scale and the fluidity of sexuality.

You can be really hetero or really gay or anywhere in between. Adapted from the Kinsey Institute.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking sexuality is an either/or thing. It's actually more like a spectrum, and some people do fall more solidly on one side of the spectrum than the other. But some others hover somewhere around the middle of that spectrum, and might describe themselves as bisexual. (There's also pansexual and asexual and other orientations, but we'll save that for another article.)

It can take time and a variety of experiences for a person to know where they are on the spectrum. Some people have the surety of knowing immediately when they reach adolescence what gender they're attracted to, and others need to gather more data by trying things out before they'll know for sure. Additionally, you can find that where you were on this scale as a young person may not fit you anymore later in life.

That means that your younger granddaughter may be having very different feelings about her sexuality that seem different from how your older granddaughter became aware of hers. It doesn't mean she's not "really gay."


That's right, Honey Boo-Boo. Unless they're a zero on the Kinsey scale! GIF via TLC.

2. Do people pretend they're gay so they can fit in with a group of friends who are?

It's not impossible for that to happen, but I'd be more inclined to assume she's really expressing her current sense of where she's at. Though homosexuality is becoming better accepted, it's still a really tough row to hoe in our society that most people would not choose if they're not actually gay. But if you're still on the fence, here's a useful tool for looking at the possible scenarios and potential outcomes — a decision quadrant:

A couple of the outcomes are clearly not worth it when we're talking about how we treat those we love. But the two others are can't-lose options.

3. This is the big one that I think anyone can apply to various situations with any kid: believing them to be the ultimate authority of their truth and their "self."

There is clearly so much love and closeness between Nana and the granddaughters. And from lived experience, Nana knows a thing or two about the world and about how people can be. But even so, we have to be careful as trusted adults to not quickly assume that we know our kids/grandkids/etc. better than they know themselves. It sets kids up for a lifetime of self-doubt and inner turmoil instead of helping them practice the confidence that they can be whatever they feel they are meant to be. If something shifts and their path changes, it's not the end of the world.

The feeling you'll get inside from knowing that you never failed to support their self-direction is better than any momentary satisfaction we might get when we "called it."

Ultimately, like Nana already acknowledged, whether she is or isn't gay doesn't matter at all — so why make it an issue? We're just here to love each other.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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