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Coming Out For Kids

30 Aug Posted by in Robin Lowey | 5 comments
Coming Out For Kids

When I first agreed to go into the classroom as a volunteer speaker for Spectrum, Marin’s LGBT Center, I was terrified. What in the world did I have to say that would make a difference to these kids? I stood up there for the first time and looked into the faces of 20 teenage kids from Bolinas-Stinson school. Many of them I recognized, either from surfing at the nearby beach or from coaching soccer. They stared back at me with blank expressions as I told them about my life. Soon, they were laughing at my ridiculous stories and when they began to relax, so did I. They seemed to relate to me—after all, I had grown up in Marin much like they had and I wasn’t much different from their parents, so what was the big deal anyway?

Being an out lesbian in my community has been an adventure. After growing up in Marin, I returned ‘out and proud‘ after college and moved into a house with some old high school friends. I was soon to find myself being called “dyke” while walking down the street with my new girlfriend. So I moved to San Francisco for 20 years to surround myself with a queer community. It was a great place for my partner and I to enjoy our young adulthood and eventually raise kids. When they got a little older, we decided to bring them back “home” to enjoy a more rural experience. I soon discovered that Marin could still use some education around LGBT issues—awareness for starters.

For a while, I wasn’t ready to step up and do much about it besides being an out parent, coach, and community member. When we first arrived in Marin my older son was just starting middle school and he came home his first day in shock at how many times he heard ‘You Fag!’ on the playground. This didn’t happen at his school in San Francisco! Even as the new kid he refused to hear it and created a little bubble of friends that didn’t speak that way. He even went on to write his college essay about how he dealt with the unacceptability of gay slurs within the school system. He inspired me! And with all the recent gay teen suicides, I began to feel like maybe I could do more. Maybe kids who were questioning their sexual preference could relate to me. I wondered how I might have felt if  someone like me had come into my classroom when I was in high school. It might have made me feel like I wasn’t the only lesbian I knew of. So, after the break-up of my long-term relationship, I was suddenly ready to some try new things that I hadn’t done before. Going into the classroom really scared me, but it was a challenge I was ready to face. Its been incredibly rewarding  and we get invited into more and more classrooms every year.

Sometimes I bring in transgender people to help shake things up. My friend Michelle served as a male in Vietnam and successfully transitioned 30 years ago. She is a badass and the kids are always very impressed. The boys ask questions like “what kind of gun did you use?” which is so awesome because they forget about her being a transgendered person and just seem to think she is cool.

The best moment ever was when they asked me to go into my younger son’s freshman high school class. I said “You are kidding me!” So I asked him if he was OK with that. His response was this: “Yes Mommy, those kids need to hear you”.

Read more about coming out and teen suicide on Epochalips.

Check out this video that some of my son’s classmates made for a class project.

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  • Great article! Thanks for aharing I’ve wondering about you and your background. Met u at the parties this past year. Kate Clinton was my English teacher in high school. Need I say more??? Hysterical. Excellent Robin that u went into school etc. So huge. It is very grounding to have mentors and role models. Blessings. I think u might recognize me. More blonde now. Also a desiner and writer. Thanks for transparency! Be well! Alison/Santa Clara. You WERE at Kate’s show night after NCLR party! U flaked on us for dinner!!! Lol!! I’m The student Kate outed!!! Lol!!! Cya!!

  • Janet Conley says:

    Awesome job, Robin. You’ve always been a super cool cat, and your new work with LGBT kids just makes you cooler. I’m proud of you that you’re stepping outside your comfort zone to help others. I need to do more, and you’re an inspiration. xxoo Janet

  • Silvia says:

    Yay! Your son is right, High School kids need to hear from you!

  • Boi Blue says:

    you are doing the kind of deed very close to my heart – our GLBT youth need more people like you! Thanks for sharing yourself with them and with us… truly!

  • Wallis Stern says:

    Well done, Robin! I only wish someone like you had spoken to the kids in my own school. It might have inspired more of us to come out sooner and the rest to be more tolerant. Unfortunately, I doubt that a spokesperson for GLBT pride, however charming, would have been welcome in the ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva environment it took so many of us to recover from, myself included. Brava!