DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend recently told me that she has a girlfriend. A few months ago, she was dating a guy. I don’t really care, but it is confusing for me to keep up with her romantic life, and she really wants me to. I told her that I don't care who she dates as long as she is happy. What I’m having a problem with is getting her to believe that I am telling the truth. I think she doesn’t believe me because her family is really judgmental. They got mad when they learned that she was dating a girl from our school, and they were equally elated back when she started dating a guy. Never mind that the girl was much nicer to her than the guy. It was only because he was male that they decided to be nice to him. How can I support my friend and stand up for her when even her family is judging her based on her private choices? -- Being an Ally
DEAR BEING AN ALLY: Be a good listener to your friend. Ask her what she’s thinking and feeling and what she wants for her life right now. What is being touted as a common characteristic of this current generation is that many people are fluid. WebMD defines sexual fluidity based on three aspects of sexuality: sexual orientation, or the pattern of your sexual attraction and preference; sexual identity, or the way you define yourself with respect to your orientation; and sexual behavior, or the sexual activity that you take part in.
Wherever your friend stands with her sexual identity, she has a right to it. It may be difficult for her parents to keep up and to understand based on their own value systems and the way that they grew up. Remind your friend that the process of blossoming into herself may require growing pains on her parents’ part. Perhaps she can muster up some compassion for them during her journey.
A helpful article about supporting teens who are questioning their sexual identity is onlinemswprograms.com/resources/supporting-questioning-adolescents.