Coming out as gay, lesbian or otherwise same-sex attracted is often one of the hardest things a person can do. And it’s often not just one ‘coming out’, but a series of conversations with family, friends, co-workers and distant relatives, as gradually everyone in your life meets the authentic you.
Most would say that Alex Nation was outed by a magazine who chose to publish photos of her kissing her footy teammate and now confirmed girlfriend, Maegan Luxa, in August. The subsequent flurry of media attention meant anyone in the former Bachelor winner’s orbit who didn’t already know about her relationship, would soon find out.
However, there’s one person who may not know the exact status of Nation’s relationship with Luxa, but who will, arguably, be most affected by it – her son Elijah. We don’t know if the 26-year-old has told her son she’s same-sex attracted. All we can assume from recent Instagram posts of Luxa and Elijah together is that the pair are, wonderfully, firm friends.
One woman who has gone through the process of coming out to her children and knows how difficult it can be is Sydney-based nurse and mum-of-three Amity.
Amity was married to a man for 12 years, before they separated in late 2012 and she realised she wanted to explore the idea of dating women. In early 2014 she began going on dates with women and within a few months met her current partner – but she waited an entire year before telling her children she was in a same-sex relationship.
The intensive care nurse told Mamamia that coming out to her children was the “hardest part of it all”.
“For younger people perhaps coming out to their parents is a big thing, but for me it was coming out to my children.”
Amity said she feared her children, who were 13, 11 and eight years old at the time, would react badly and would be in some way “hurt” by the news.
“In hindsight, I wasn’t hurting them, I was being authentic, which is teaching them positive things, but I was just so scared.
“I was very cautious about it and I took a long time to tell them and I planned it very carefully.”
Listen: We discuss whether the paps outed Alex. (Post continues…)
Amity sought advice from her therapist before telling her kids, who told her that her daughter, then 13, would probably take it the hardest.
The 43-year-old found that to be the case when she finally told her children, in her car, with the radio playing to combat any “awkward silence” and without the need for eye contact.
“A friend told us if we make it a big deal then it will be a big deal for the kids… so I decided to tell them in quite an informal setting,” Amity said.
“I just said, ‘You may not know this about Mummy, but I’ve been able to love men and women in my life’, and that my partner and I were more than friends and that we loved each other.”
Amity said her children had different reactions, with her daughter’s face saying ‘I knew it’, her youngest son laughing nervously and her middle son getting quiet.
She told Mamamia in the following weeks and months her children became more and more accepting of their mum’s relationship status and were happy by the time the family moved in with her partner at the end of 2015.
“My daughter has probably found it the hardest because she was in high school… A lot of her friends don’t know. I’ve always said to her she could be honest about it to get friends or she can be vague about it,” Amity said.
“But there was no bad reaction to it, there was no screaming, my daughter cried a little bit, but I think that was just because she was overwhelmed with school and her parents separating.
“Kids would always prefer to have their Mum and Dad happy and together, but I do feel like if that’s not possible the situation that we have created now is (the next best option).”
In fact, Amity says that she feels in some ways it’s been easier on the kids that her partner is a woman.
“I actually feel like, especially for my boys, having my partner around is a lot easier than having another dad around. Having two mums is great.”
“My ex-husband is happy with his new partner. We actually have a really lovely modern family, we had Christmas all together last year.
“It’s actually worked out so well.”
And as for the way she came out to her children, she says she couldn’t have imagined it going better.
“I feel really good about how I came out to the kids. I don’t have any regrets about how I did it. And I’m really happy about that.”