Real Housewives’ Heather Dubrow opens up about her gay, transgender and LGBTQ children
Heather Dubrow is a star of the Real Housewives of Orange County. But she’s also a star mom to her four children – three of whom identify as LGBTQ.
“I feel like these kids were gifted to me for a reason,” said Dubrow, 54, on a Zoom call from New York, where she is promoting the latest season of RHOC. “And what I would really like to do is continue to have conversations and open up conversations in other people’s families.”
In the face of increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ legislation, Dubrow wants to normalize families like hers to ensure progress towards acceptance doesn’t slow down.
This interview has been edited and abridged for clarity.
Question: Talk to me about being a parent of LGBTQ identifying children.
Answer: I have four children, they are all different ages, sexualities and genders. And they’re 19, 19, 16 and 12. That’s Nicky and Max, Katerina and Ace (who Dubrow revealed on Instagram earlier this year is transgender). And I’m really, really making sure my kids are all telling their own stories and identifying in the ways that they want as they grow and find out who they are as people. To be a parent to these unique children is – I am extremely proud. They are really, really good people who are evolving into even better people and finding their place in this world.
What was your relationship with the LGBTQ community and what was your level of fame as you grew up, matured and then became parents?
When I first started out in theatre, I had a lot of gay friends in high school. But people were obviously not as out there as they are now. And I also think that I had a lot of friends, mostly male, who didn’t know who they were at the time. Because life was different, the room was different. And it wasn’t something amenable to exploration at the time. I am so proud that my children are growing up in a world where you find out who you are and love who you love and be who you are meant to be by nature. And the fact that I can watch them, guide them and help them is amazing. But yeah, it’s definitely very different from when I was growing up. And I’m happy for them. I mean, look, we’ve come a long way. But obviously there is still a long, long way to go.
I wonder if you were worried about your kids because of the more publicity you have, but also just because of all the anti-LGBTQ legislation. What were the conversations you had with them and as a family about this uncertain future?
We live in California, we’re in a coastal state. It’s different across the country. But I have to say to my children and their friends: They are so different. you are so cool They’re so open, they’re so fluid, they’re all so accepting. It’s my generation that’s the problem. Am I worried about her? Of course I do. Are they loved? Are they accepted? Are they being bullied? all these things
It’s so important to normalize all of this because it’s the only way we can begin to penetrate the rest of the country and bring about these changes. It’s scary what’s going on in legislation. On a basic human level, what is happening to women, the gay and trans communities, it is all worrying that any government can dictate what we do with our lives and our bodies. Are you watching (The) Handmaid’s Tale?
Yes, I’ve seen (The) Handmaid’s Tale.
When I was in high school – I’m very old – I got it. But when I was in high school, the book came out. And I remember reading the book and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy. That could never happen.” And the book was told a little in flashbacks. But if you watch the TV show, there are flashbacks. And you see how it happened. And if you look at what’s going on in the world right now. It’s Gilead and it’s terrifying to see how it can actually happen. One of the reasons I’m comfortable with putting our family there is that we all need to talk, because if none of us talks, we’re going in the wrong direction.
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What went through your mind when your children turned out to have different sexual identities, gender identities? How did you feel when all of this was happening and how did you make sure people felt safe in those moments?
As a parent, you want your children to be happy, healthy, and prosperous. More successful than you were. Not only financially, but you don’t want them to be bullied, you don’t want them to have a hard time in middle school when someone was mean to you or they didn’t get invited to prom or stuff like that. If you have a child who deviates in any way from what society considers the norm, worry about them. Will they get hurt? are they loved all these things So when a child comes to you or starts engaging in behavior or conversation that you realize will deviate from the societal norm, naturally say, “Okay, I have to protect this child and help him.” Guide them through it all.” I’ve never been angry with my children. I’ve been asked this question before, which I find strange because this is about biology, right? I love my children. I’m happy for you. I promote them. I support you. But of course I worry about them out in the world, just like parents do. Protecting them is the number one goal, both mentally and physically. So we, my husband and I, have tried to put them in schools and in situations where they will be loved and supported when they are away from our home. But yeah, it’s scary. It’s a scary world out there. That’s why we’re constantly evaluating and trying to figure out what’s the best way. But most important #1 is communication. I get so many messages from people saying they have become estranged from their parents, or the parents have become estranged from the child and have had disastrous results by having children take their own lives and do horrible, horrible things.
Have you become alienated from someone in your life because they support your children in some way?
And how did you deal with it?
It’s very hard to see that some people are stuck in the mindset of how they were raised. Because we are all products of our environment. And it’s a difficult thing. And it’s difficult to navigate through it. But life is short and these people don’t serve you. You should stay away from these people. But here’s the good news. You can’t always control where you come from. But you have some control over where you go. So it’s up to us to shape where we’re going, where our children are going, where their children are going, and steer the narrative in the right direction.
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