Courtesy Heather Dubrow The Dubrow family
Heather Dubrow and her daughter Max are opening up about navigating the tricky waters of latent homophobia in their community and circles after Max came out as bisexual.
Max, 18, who is the daughter of the Real Housewives of OC star, 52, and Botched surgeon Terry Dubrow, 63, and has a twin brother Nick, as well as younger sisters Kat, 16, and Coco, now 10, says it was important for her to share her personal news with them all — no matter her siblings' ages at the time.
"A lot of people say things like, 'Oh, they're too young to hear about this.' But to me, that's just the excuse for homophobia," says Max, who is author of the new advice book I'll Give it To You Straight-ish, based on the hit podcast. "I think it was good that I told her, regardless of how old she was. Because it's not something that has to be kept a secret."
"People her age could be dealing with the same thing," Max continues. "And I don't want to invalidate them by saying that, 'Because you're this age, you can't feel this way.' So I think it's important for us to stop shielding 9-year-olds from perfectly natural things like being gay."
When the moment came, Max says her little sister was, as with the rest of the family, "nonchalant."
"I go, 'Coco, so I'm bi.' And then she was like, 'Okay.' She did not care," Max recalls. "She was like, ' All right. And?' "
Adds mom Heather: "She's like 9 going on 40!"
Heather Dubrow/instagram. Inset: Getty Images Heather Dubrow
"I think they come out the way they come out. For me, the job is to take these kids and make sure that they're healthy, independent, functioning humans that are ready to go off on their own and be independent and do their whole thing. I mean, that's my job," says Heather, who was the first in the family to hear the official word from Max. "So whatever I can do to support them, and in this case Max, I'm in. So there's nothing she could tell me that would upset me."
Max says she's had an overwhelmingly positive response from her friends and family — despite sitting through an unpleasant religion class at her otherwise supportive Catholic school.
"We started talking about marriage and what defines a marriage. And I think it's the first time anyone has ever been blatantly homophobic to my face," Max recalls. "And not like they were targeting me or anything. It just, it's like these kids in my class were saying things like, 'Same-sex marriage is just not marriage.' I think that is what I was expecting when I didn't want to come out, like blatant homophobia all the time."
"Sadly their curriculum is antiquated and I don't think it reflects modern-day, or in my opinion, appropriate thinking," adds Heather.
Courtesy Heather Dubrow Max and Heather Dubrow
For her part, Heather says it's been frustrating to hear from people who think it's a "fad."
"The one thing that bothers me and it's from the older generation … I've heard a lot of people say things like, 'It must be a fad. Why, all of the sudden, are so many people gay?' And it infuriates me," she says. " How about looking at the fact that people don't have to be sheltered. People can actually be open and explore who they are and find their place sexually, or just as a human or just in the world? Isn't it great that we're living at a time where you can just be open about it and talk about it?"
But Max says she's just happy her family has given her the support and space she needed to explore her sexuality.
"I think having this really supportive family is part of the reason why I was able to even discover my sexuality," she says. "Because they always gave me room to grow and think and be my own person. And I'm really grateful for that."