Having grown up with two mums since she was four, Jillian never really thought much into her family set up. It was what it was. Both she and her parents loved, argued, disagreed, laughed – the same as any other family out there.
After all, mums and dads exist in the world, but so do step-mums, step-dads, grandparents that act as parents, guardians, foster parents and of course, same-sex parents. Was anything about her upbringing really *that* different? Well, tbf, yes, but for so many different reasons.
From the fact that her mums were the first lesbians to marry in Scotland (which she says was “the coolest thing ever” btw) to her negative experience of high-school and continuing social media abuse, Jillian tells betty.me about the struggles she and her family have faced – but also dishes out some awesome advice.
What happened when your mum came out?
“I was only four when my mum told me she was a lesbian, but from what my mum’s told me, my main concern was whether I would still be seeing my dad. Once she’d said of course, I was sort of like “Fine then, okay”. I didn’t really have much more to say. Being so young I didn’t really care as long as my parents were happy. My mum and dad split up 20 years ago, then my mum got together with Gerrie so I’ve never really known any different.”
Did you ever think of your family as anything other than just that?
“I just thought we were unique! I never made it a secret that I had two mums. I would actually make sure it was something everybody knew about. I’d be like “Yeah I’ve got two mums!” Some people definitely thought we were weird but at the end of the day I didn’t care because they were my family.”
How did your friends react?
“My friends have always been so supportive of me and my family. They’ve never used my mum being gay as a way to be nasty to me or anything like that. I think it helped that they were all so young when it happened, so they’ve grown up with me having lesbian mums as just a normal thing.”
Do you experience any prejudice or bullying?
“In my teenage years boys would tease me about my mums, asking crude sexual questions. YUCK. In RE classes there were sometimes debates about it too. Some of the more religious kids would say that it wasn’t ‘right’ or what God intended. But I’d take no notice. Gods are meant to accept everybody in this world so I don’t think that matters.
“It’s actually since filming a documentary with Newsbeat that I’ve received the most abuse. People from all over the world tweet us saying we’re disgusting, but to every negative comment there are ten more positive comments, so whatever. People hide behind their keyboards. If they said it to my face, maybe I would feel more upset.
“Growing up in the early 00s it was ‘different’ to have two mums so I had to grow a thick skin. People labelled me as ‘the weird one’ because I didn’t have the same family as them. But if anything, that has helped me going into adult life. It’s made me a lot more confident.”
How about your mums?
“They have definitely received a lot of prejudice over the years – when the news broke that they would be the first lesbians to marry in Scotland, they received a lot of hate. At first me and my sisters used to try and reply to the comments but we realised not to bother. There were so many people who hated it, but they’re the ones who are wrong and have not realised it’s normal to be lesbian or gay or whatever sexuality you want to be. It was definitely tough for them but they never let it get them down. They’re so cheesy, they just say ‘Well we love each other, we’ve got each other so that’s all that matters.’”
They were the first lesbians to marry in Scotland, how does that make you feel?
“Honestly, I think it’s the coolest thing ever! Who else in Scotland will be able to say that their parents made history? We always jokingly call them ‘The Lesbian Royalty Of Scotland’ LOL. I’m so proud of them, a lot of people definitely wouldn’t have the balls to do that. The wedding was the best day ever. We did ceremony on the stroke of midnight, so we had a huge party in the evening and then did a countdown to midnight on the day that gay marriage became legal. They said their vows at one minute past midnight. As soon as the law passed they were the first people to be married.”
What positives and negatives have you experienced?
“The positives: definitely growing up being taught that I could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be – your sexuality is your choice and you should just accept yourself. It’s made me a much more confident adult and I’ve never been afraid to tell my truth or wanted to hide who my family are. I’ve always been so proud of them, being different is cool. The one negative is high school. Once I escaped, I realised that the world was a huge place and there were people out there who accepted you for you.”
What misconceptions have you had to deal with?
“People definitely think that because you aren’t being raised with a male and a female influence in your household that it will affect you later in life. I think maybe my brother felt that. He was the only boy in a house full of women so people used to judge us and think he had no male mentor in his life, but what people seem quick to forget is that we still have a father, we just don’t live under the same roof. It’s such a backwards way of thinking. I just don’t understand why people can’t move forward with the times.”
What advice would you give your 14 year old self?
“When it comes to bullying, never listen to it! I soon realised that having gay parents is one of the coolest gifts you can ever be given. It makes you stand out from the crowd and different is NOT wrong. Different is something to be encouraged. It’s something to be proud of. Talk to people, whether it’s a friend, parent or teacher, speak about how you feel and if you are getting bullied, the bullies need to be called out for it. There’s always someone to talk to so don’t suffer in silence. Finally, be proud of your family because there’s not one particular way to be brought up.”
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.
Image: Amber Griffin