Out With It

On Allyship with Heather Dubrow

June 03, 2024 Heather Dubrow Season 1 Episode 1
On Allyship with Heather Dubrow
Out With It
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Out With It
On Allyship with Heather Dubrow
Jun 03, 2024 Season 1 Episode 1
Heather Dubrow

On today's "Out with It," Family Equality President and CEO, Jaymes Black, talks with entrepreneur, podcast host, author, actress, wife, mom, and Real Housewives of Orange County star, Heather Dubrow, about the realities of parenting LGBTQ+ children and the crucial role that allies play in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality.

CELEBRATE LOVE WITH GEMS SPARKLING WINE! Dubrow and Equality Vines have joined forces to celebrate the unconditional love and belonging of family with GEMS Sparkling Wines! Support Family Equality's impactful work today by purchasing a bottle.   

Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education. Learn more and support our work today!

Interested in sponsoring the podcast? Contact info@familyequality.org to chat more.

Show Notes Transcript

On today's "Out with It," Family Equality President and CEO, Jaymes Black, talks with entrepreneur, podcast host, author, actress, wife, mom, and Real Housewives of Orange County star, Heather Dubrow, about the realities of parenting LGBTQ+ children and the crucial role that allies play in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality.

CELEBRATE LOVE WITH GEMS SPARKLING WINE! Dubrow and Equality Vines have joined forces to celebrate the unconditional love and belonging of family with GEMS Sparkling Wines! Support Family Equality's impactful work today by purchasing a bottle.   

Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education. Learn more and support our work today!

Interested in sponsoring the podcast? Contact info@familyequality.org to chat more.

Jaymes Black (00:09):

Hello, outspoken changemakers, and welcome to Family Equality's Out With It, the podcast where conversations are raw, insights are bold, and the mission is clear: To foster a society where justice is non-negotiable and equality is the norm. I'm your host, Family Equality President and CEO, Jaymes Black, and I think it's time to come out with it.


So today on Out With it, we're chatting with a true champ, supermom, and ally extraordinaire, Heather Dubrow. Now, while you might recognize Heather from the Real Housewives of Orange County, she's also an amazing entrepreneur, podcast host, the creator of the HD Network, author, actress, wife to the incredible Dr. Terry Dubrow, and proud mom of four amazing humans. Heather was also the definition of outspoken changemaker. Recently Heather joined forces with Family Equality and Equality Vines to create GEMS sparkling wines, which celebrate love, equality and family with proceeds going towards Family Equality's impactful work. I'm so excited to chat with Heather about raising LGBTQ+ children, our families, and putting action into allyship. Heather, I'm so happy to be here with you today.

Heather Dubrow (01:28):

Oh, I'm so happy to see you, Jaymes. Thanks for having me.

Jaymes Black (01:33):

Absolutely. So we're going to start off with the first question that I typically ask our guests. It's about music. I'm a huge music lover - I don't know about you - but I'm putting together a playlist with our favorite songs suggested by our guests. What would you recommend that I put on that playlist?

Heather Dubrow (01:48):

Well, I would say most recently it's going to be Britney Spears' "Stronger." I love eighties pop. I grew up in the eighties. That's just how I roll. I love it, love it, love it. And I love me some Britney.

Jaymes Black (02:00):

Yeah. Okay, so now you started something here. I love me some Britney too, but the eighties pop thing, that's my jam. Favorite eighties song ever?Could you think of one right now? There's too many, right?

Heather Dubrow (02:11):

There's too many! I just thinking, I don't think I have a favorite. That's like trying to pick your favorite kid or your favorite meal, but I just love all eighties music. Yes. Makes me happy.

Jaymes Black (02:25):

It is the best. That was a great decade of music, by the way.

Heather Dubrow (02:28):

I agree. So good.

Jaymes Black (02:29):

Alright, so let's start with the opening question. It's the same question that I ask all of our guests. So this platform that we've created here is about really addressing challenging topics. So now's the time to come out with it, as we say. And in your experience, what's one thing that you wish people knew or understood about being an ally or raising LGBTQ+ youth?

Heather Dubrow (02:49):

That we're just normal families, just like everyone is. People tend to ask me how I parent differently because some of them are LGBTQ+. And, it's like...you just parent your kids. No two children are alike. So the nature-nurture thing I think is B.S. And they pretty much come out the way they come out. And ,you love 'em, and you support 'em, and you figure out what that child needs, whether it's emotional support, physical support, whatever it is. That child is an individual, and you always have to parent them each differently.

Jaymes Black (03:28):

Yeah, absolutely. I know I've heard from folks who are allies that sometimes they're supportive, but they have a difficult time understanding how they're going to explain their children after they come out to their family members or to their work colleagues, their community. You have a really public platform. It's on steroids, if you will, in terms of this sort of coming out. Because it's a coming out for the youth, but it's also coming out for the family, so to speak. How did you handle that? How did you and Terry navigate that as, you know, other allied parents are listening, because I know that's a constant thing that we hear.

Heather Dubrow (04:05):

Yeah, I mean, it's a tough road to walk, honestly. You want to protect your kids and you want to allow them space to grow, figure themselves out, and tell their own stories. But in our case, when our kids...If you look at Ace, for example, has been on television since he was nine months old. It's not like he could move to the middle of the country or something and go off the grid and people won't know him. He is a public person. It's been challenging in terms of that for sure.

Jaymes Black (04:43):

I bet. Yeah, absolutely. Because of the sort of public platform.

Heather Dubrow (04:49):


Jaymes Black (04:50):

What about family members? I've heard my allied friends say we support our child, but man, my mother or my father or the aunts and uncles, and it's hard during holidays. Have you ever experienced any of that?

Heather Dubrow (05:03):

A hundred percent. There's been family challenges. Mostly I would say friend challenges. And there's been some moments where we've had to part ways with friends because of it. But first of all, family first, a hundred percent. And, are we allowed to curse here?

Jaymes Black (05:25):

Yeah, why not?

Heather Dubrow (05:26):

Okay. I mean, [bleep] them. We have a beautiful, very normal, very cool, very loving, really good family with really nice kids. And if someone doesn't understand it, we don't need to be with them.

Jaymes Black (05:45):

I love that. I wish more folks thought that way. Oftentimes it's the parents trying to figure out the needs of the child and then how to please grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, friends. And that makes for, I think, an unintentional sort of hostile environment, right?

Heather Dubrow (06:04):

Yeah, it does. And I think to your point, look, you know how you say you can't change people's actions, but you can only change your reactions to them. So there's some people, I mean, you can't just adios from your life, right? There's a grandparent or there's someone...And I think what you have to do is figure out a way to protect your child and make it okay without being in a combative situation or something where your child has to hide themselves. If you can do that — because look, we're all products of our environments, and I do understand! I can't imagine my great-grandfather who came over from Russia and would he understand my kids? Would he be accepting? I think in my heart he would be. But how would I handle that? It's hard to say. I would say though, in general, I have always made sure to keep my kids in a place where they can thrive and not have to watch what they're saying or change who they are for someone else.

Jaymes Black (07:14):

Oh, I love that. I could say we're trying to parent that way, and I wish I was parented that way because it would've made things a hell of a lot easier.

Heather Dubrow (07:23):

Well, look, I mean, take the L-G-B-T-Q out of it for a second. I mean, I was raised by very 1950s parents that didn't talk about anything and swept things under the rug, and certain things you were allowed to talk about out in society. I felt very stilted and sort of chained down and controlled for a long time, and I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way about anything in their lives.

Jaymes Black (07:52):

Yeah, I appreciate that. So let's talk a bit about the barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that we are seeing across the country, the majority of them attacking our youth. And just to provide the audience a bit of context and history. In 2018, we had, I think under a hundred anti-LGBTQ+ bills. And fast forward to 2021, we had, I believe about 300. Tonya will check me if I'm incorrect. 2022, I think it was about 400, let's just say. Where we are now? Over 500. So just thinking about how that has grown so rapidly over the last five, six years or so. I worry about the future of our youth a lot, and I worry about how these bills are affecting them even in the most progressive states like yours and others. Do you talk to your kids about the bills and what we see some of these legislators trying to do? Do you have those conversations? And if you do, how?

Heather Dubrow (08:53):

I mean with some of the kids, obviously. Ace is 13 and some of those things are bigger conversations. I think the biggest problem is people don't really know what's going on. And it's interesting, we threw an event — which everyone will be seeing on season 18 of the Real Housewives of Orange County — and within the event for Family Equality that we did (which we had been working on for, I don't know, a year?), you had gotten up and spoken. And, I think a couple of other people did. And [you] were talking about numbers — numbers of people who were being affected by so many of these bills. But the one in particular that I'll just mention was the adoption laws. And so I'll have to bow to you — to defer to you — to give the exact numbers, but what struck me was that there are so many kids in foster care who need homes. And there's so many beautiful gay couples that want to foster children and can't get them because of these laws. And the numbers are just astounding.

Jaymes Black (10:09):

They're astounding. So what Heather was referring to is in what I called — what we call a...We're shrinking the pool of potential parents for these children who need parents. So there are 400,000 children who go through the foster care system every year. Sometimes there's reunification. So that happens. But about, I think it's like 120,000 [youth are] awaiting adoption and about 20,000 or so age out without finding a forever home. And when they age out, there's, as you can imagine, all sorts of issues that happen right after they age out. And the other stat that Heather's talking about is there's 13 or 14 states that can legally discriminate against an LGBTQ+ person if they want to foster, which is just maddening because we are seven times more likely to foster and adopt. We're seven times more likely to adopt children who have special needs. And so to your point, bringing it back to the youth, there are a vast majority of queer youth in foster care who need families like mine, like yours, and they're unable to access those families.

Heather Dubrow (11:20):

Yes. So we'll have conversations about things like that. And when you hear those numbers — those staggering numbers — it's just, it's mind-blowing. And the other legislation, I mean, it's hard to wrap your brain around it, but that's why...People ask me why I came back to Housewives. And I say, because I've got this huge platform, and although I don't need to tell my kids specific stories all the time or talk about their specific needs or issues or situations, just having us on television with our incredibly normal family, with kids that are different genders and different sexualities, it gives people something to look at and say, oh, well that's like my kid. Oh, well that's like my mom. Oh, that's my family. Oh good. Wait, this is normal.

Jaymes Black (12:16):

Exactly. And this is the power of allyship that I mention to people sometimes. Oftentimes people could see a couple like me, my wife and our twins, and they're like, well, that's an LGBTQ+ couple, so that's different. But when they see a straight couple, when they see allies who are raising queer kids, I think it does shift their perspective. I think that they are forced to rethink this mindset of, well, they're queer and so that's what they're supposed to do if our kids are queer versus straight folks who are embracing the hell out of their queer kids and being perfectly normal on this huge platform, you certainly are touching people in probably even the reddest of states, I would think.

Heather Dubrow (13:03):

Right. But I mean it's because people have to understand...it's biology. I mean, I remember 35 years ago when people were saying, oh, "Gay is a choice" and "deprogramming" and "it's a lifestyle choice." It's biology! It's just: Your eyes are blue, whatever. You're gay, whatever you are. This is how — this is all how we're born, and it's all beautiful, and it's all wonderful, and we're all a part of this beautiful big melting pot and should be just accepting of each other. The thing about being a parent, to your point — and you're a mom — is that these kids don't ask to come into the world. We bring them into the world or we adopt them, we foster them, all the things that we do so that we are parents and it is our job to take care of them and support them emotionally, physically do whatever it needs to make them the best human that they can be. And if we are not on their side and on their team, how is anyone else going to be?

Jaymes Black (14:11):

Absolutely. And it blows...That whole responsibility as a parent. I feel that our nation, all of adults, we're a nation of adults who are parenting all of our children in this country. And I think about the legislators. You are an adult, and you are responsible for protecting our youth. Whether you understand or agree with that child's identity or not, you should not want them to want to commit suicide. You should not want them to want to harm themselves or feel any less than. And I think legislators have sort of gotten it wrong, but one, they're politicizing it, and number two, why would you want a child ever to come into this world and then feel that they have to leave this world?

Heather Dubrow (14:54):

It's terrible.

Jaymes Black (14:55):

Just to feel free. I can't even get my head around it.

Heather Dubrow (14:57):

Me either. But it's fear. It's just fear. People are afraid of the unknown. People are afraid of what society doesn't deem the norm. I mean, what's funny, I was seeing an Instagram thing for the Wildernes family, and they're such a cute family, and the husband wrote this book on A DHD, it's called "ADHD is Awesome." And they're on their book tour and whatever. And I'm thinking, God, can you imagine someone writing a book called "ADHD is Awesome" 15 years ago?

Jaymes Black (15:32):


Heather Dubrow (15:32):

No, never. Because listen, I remember when my twins — who are turning 21 in the fall, I can't believe that, but — I remember when they were little, they were my first kids, and you're all worried. Are they smart? Are they talented? Are they this or they that? And no one wanted their kid to have a problem. You didn't want this, you didn't want that.


And my third child at 15 months wasn't crawling, talking, walking, nothing. And she turned out to just be a late bloomer. But we went to therapies and speech therapies and all the things. And thankfully she was fine. But back then I remember asking friends, "Does your kid do this?" And everyone said, "Oh no, not my child. Oh no, my child's perfect." And I found out years later that a lot of them were going through similar things but wouldn't talk about it. And I was just...It blew my mind, this need for perfection, not just in ourselves — and certainly Instagram has blown that up to the next level — but also in our children. And I get it. I think people think my kids are a reflection of me, and if they're perfect, then I'm perfect. Whatever, I say, screw that. I'm not perfect. None of us are perfect. My children certainly aren't perfect, and they're born, and they come out the way they come out. But I can certainly help them navigate the world and figure out their talents and where their happy is and all those things. But you can't change who they inherently are.

Jaymes Black (17:13):

No, you cannot. And you just said something that resonates with me so deeply because the ADHD thing is a really good example. 15 years ago how we thought about it. My twins are nine. One does have ADHD, but, Heather, we struggled, and we thought that it was about "We're bad parents if we succumb to the therapy and what the doctors were saying." It's like...Nope, nope. That can't be. You have to be wrong. Because it was really about having these perfect kids. And we've come to this place where just what you're saying, he is who he is. And this is a gift. But it was very different 15 years ago, and I'm hoping 15 years from now that we can see what we're seeing now. And hopefully, it doesn't take 15 years, but the shift that people are seeing about seeing our trans children and our queer children as threatening, as threatening and not perfect and not worthy, we need to see a shift in that.

Heather Dubrow (18:11):

We do. And I think unfortunately it takes time, and it takes a lot of time. But I have to say, I am sort of emboldened by seeing more people that have platforms talk about their non-binary and trans children. And I love that because we're scared of what we don't know. And the more you see something, the less afraid you are of it. And the more, let's put it in quotes, "normal" it becomes because it is normal. It's all normal. It's all biology.

Jaymes Black (18:49):

It's all biology.

Heather Dubrow (18:50):

It's all biology. I'm married to a very highly trained surgeon who is a scientist and a very brilliant man, and he was the first one to say, it's all biology.

Jaymes Black (19:05):

There you go. There. Now, let's go have dinner. Let's go eat. It's just a normal day. Right? So let me ask you this about...We believe it's important to ensure that our kids feel equipped to go out into the world and to navigate schools and their friends and the social circles, which we all know. You and I grew up in a similar time. My God, social aspects of childhood and teenagehood is just...even without coming out, without being LGBTQ+ is —

Heather Dubrow (19:34):


Jaymes Black (19:36):

Horrible. Oh my gosh.

Heather Dubrow (19:37):

Middle school is a cesspool. Oh!

Jaymes Black (19:41):

Well, we are in fourth-grade land right now. And we keep talking about, "Oh my God, if this is fourth grade, what is sixth and seventh grade?"

Heather Dubrow (19:48):

Oh, I told you sixth/seventh/eighth is a disaster.

Jaymes Black (19:52):

I can't even —

Heather Dubrow (19:53):

It's a disaster. You remember middle school?

Jaymes Black (19:56):

Oh, it was awful. It was awful. And I think back and I'm like, what were we doing? And who was managing the place? It was awful. And I worry about...We have one of our boys who likes to paint his fingernails and things like that, and I worry about his innocence when he goes to middle school. And so thinking about, I guess resilience, one of the things that Cheralyn and I say — my wife, Cheralyn — and I say a lot is that we sort of have to teach our boys to put on almost a bit of armor because the world is telling them something very different than we are in the house. We're like, "You're beautiful. Our family's beautiful. It's normal," all these things. And they go out in the school or in the world and they are told other things. I wonder how you and Terry navigate that. This sort of armor — I hate saying armor because then it feels like our kids have to, they can't be soft and soften and just be themselves. But I guess what I'm saying is equipped, right? Equipped with the words and the language to defend themselves when we're not around.

Heather Dubrow (21:01):

Yeah, I mean, again, that's...it's a lot of its communication. It's going to be trial and error. It's not always going to be a fabulous day at school. You're not going to get the great car ride home. What I have found, I'm curious about your area, but what I have found is it's more the parents, like the people older, our age and above — or a little younger than us to above — that are the problem, not the kids. I find that most of the kids are cool, loving, accepting, and are growing up in more of an era of understanding fluidity, LGBTQ+ people and just being like...It's not a big deal to them.

Jaymes Black (21:51):

You are right. And I think that's a valid point because the kids are taking cues from their parents, and then they're bringing that to school. And as an example, we've switched schools, but we were in a school where one of my boys, the one who likes to paint his fingernails, befriended this other child and they got on really well. When his father found out — pretty kind of hyper-masculine, sort of machismo guy — found out he requested that my son not be around his son because he was afraid he was going to make him gay.

Heather Dubrow (22:27):

Yes. Because that's what happens if you stand near a gay person, you can turn gay.

Jaymes Black (22:34):

That's part of the biology. Right? Totally.

Heather Dubrow (22:37):

I mean, give me [a break]. I know, but that goes back to the fear.

Jaymes Black (22:42):

It goes back to the fear.

Heather Dubrow (22:44):

It really...It's crazy though how it can be, to be honest with you, and I haven't said this publicly, but I had a very, very good friend, like a ride-or-die type of friend, and I thought everything was cool. And then she talked about my kid, and her daughter talked about my kid, and they were friends, and it was so bizarre and earth-tilting. And, I didn't even say anything. I just sort of stopped being available and kind of elegantly extracted myself. I have no idea why she thinks we don't talk anymore. But it was so crazy. So, what I was going to say was it's the adults, it's not the kids. But the problem is when those adults start giving their kids words and biases and prejudices against kids, that's when it's a problem.

Jaymes Black (23:46):

You are so right. The child who was playing with my child and had a great time with him, then he started hating him. Then, he didn't like him anymore. Then, he would call him the most horrific names. And my God, Heather, he thought some of the — Again, sixth grade or middle school, cesspool. Elementary? There's some of that there. But these words that their parents are giving them and then they're bringing them to our children...! And I think parents have to be, even if you do not understand it, you have to be so careful because your children are going to school and using these words and harming these children where they don't feel like they even belong.

Heather Dubrow (24:26):

And that's why, to your point earlier about the legislation, when we're taking books out of schools, when we're not being allowed to talk about being gay, I have two moms or I'm gay or whatever it is, if we're not allowed to normalize what is normal, that's a problem.

Jaymes Black (24:46):

Yeah, I totally agree with you. And so speaking of normalizer, what's normal...I am so encouraged by the allyship that I'm seeing from folks like you. And I call our straight allies like Mama and Papa Bears. I'm seeing these folks going, "If you screw with my kid, it's over. You will not screw with my kid. We will not be quiet. We will not be silenced." And I have embraced you all as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Some allied families have said, well, are we an LGBTQ+ family? And I'm like, yeah, sure, of course you are! Right? And so my point is that I don't know if you have other allies in your network, but how do you — as someone with such a public platform — encourage other allies in your network? Or do you have to have those conversations? I know you're a mama bear. I know that. And I think there's so much power and motivation and encouragement and bravery in that, and we need more of that. And I just wonder, do you have a network of friends who need that or have you had to have those conversations of how you show up for your kids?

Heather Dubrow (25:55):

Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I believe everyone should show up for their kids no matter what and who they are and what's going on with them. But in this particular instance, I mean going back to people being afraid, people are afraid and they're afraid for their kids. And with the legislation, it's a hard path to walk to say, okay, well look, this is normal. You've got to put your family first, your child, your family. They have to come first. You have to protect your family, but you have a platform, and you want to help other people. So how do you balance all of that? How do you keep your kids protected and keep them — and when I say protected, I don't mean just physically protected. I mean emotionally...allowing them spaces to grow — But because kids...they change how they want to be known. They could change their pronouns. They change a little bit. And you want them to have the safe space to figure it out. That's what childhood is supposed to be about. And the problem is society wants to put a label on you and they want to define you. And how can you be defined at 8, 13, 17? You can't.

Jaymes Black (27:13):

Well, I'm sure you changed during those ages. I know I did.

Heather Dubrow (27:15):

Oh, of course. So I just hope that people with a platform in the way they're comfortable show their allyship. But that is, for some people, I think it's just very difficult.

Jaymes Black (27:32):

Yeah, it is. And again, I think there's societal pressures and norms that we're all trying to continue to align [with]. And I think there's also maybe that safety for us. It's safety as our social network, all the things that make us safe, those are sort of...Our kids are, I think, forcing us to say, that's all B.S. now. And now it's like, I know it kept you safe, but now if you love me, it's sort of like you have to step out now.

Heather Dubrow (28:00):

Right. Well, you know what? I take my cues from my kids. I really do. Some of them are just very out and proud. And some are annoyed this is even a conversation. "It's just normal. Why do we have to talk about it?" Which I find hilarious and awesome. So I really just try to take my cues from them. But having said that, they are all very aware. So if I've gotten any criticisms, it would be naysayers or haters, trolls if you will, will say, "Oh, you just want to use your children for a storyline." Or again, I don't tell my kids stories for them, but I know that I was given these four kids for a reason and they're all very different and all incredible and beautiful and amazing. And if I can help other families, that is a huge goal for me. And so what I will tell my kids is, Hey, I'm going to speak on this panel. I'd like to tell this story. Are you comfortable with that? But I mostly try to speak about my experiences as a parent. I feel like that's my way of protecting them and still honoring them and putting it out into the world for other people to hear and share and learn from.

Jaymes Black (29:29):

Yeah, I appreciate that. Absolutely. Let me ask you, speaking of being a parent, what's the biggest lesson that you've learned from your children? I know that when I had kids, I didn't think that they were going to be my teachers. I know all the answers. Wow, did that change so quickly! And so what's the biggest lesson that you've learned from your children that you can share with the audience?

Heather Dubrow (29:55):

I mean, it sounds so simple, but really it's to listen. As parents, we want to give our wisdom and teach our lessons and fix things and all of that. And the truth is, they just want to be heard. And I mean, I learned so much from these kids over the years. I mean, Katerina's the one that explained to me pronouns. Truly, years ago, she sat me down and gave me a huge lesson. It was unbelievable. But listening to your kids is the most important thing. And even now, I was in the car with Ace the other day and he said something to me, he was like, "Mom, let me tell you something." I don't even remember what it was. It wasn't that significant. But he was like, "When I say X, you always say Y. That upsets me." I went, "I didn't even realize I was doing that. Okay, no, I could see why that would bother you. Let me work on that." Because what happens then is when I want to tell him something and modify behavior or point something out that might be a little delicate, he or any of them will now listen to me.

Jaymes Black (31:12):

Because you're listening!

Heather Dubrow (31:12):

To them, listening to them. And that is the absolute best thing you can do as a parent. And by the way, I'm not one of those...I'm not a cool parent. I think I'm fun and we have a good time together, but I'm definitely their mom.

Jaymes Black (31:26):

Yeah. Meaning they know the difference. It's not the whole "We're friends" thing.

Heather Dubrow (31:31):

And we are friends, especially the twins that are going to be 21. We're friends. We have a great time together. We go out. I love them. I mean, they're just...My mom's in town. We all had dinner last night, the seven of us, and it was fantastic. And they're so interesting. I love hearing the stories and all of that. But they also know that I'm their mom. And so if they know there's things, I will talk to them about those things.

Jaymes Black (31:58):

The respect is there.

Heather Dubrow (31:59):

Obviously. Absolutely. It has to be.

Jaymes Black (32:01):

It has to be.

Heather Dubrow (32:02):

And you have to respect them too.

Jaymes Black (32:04):

You do. And I was going to say, I love what you said, that they listen to you because you listen to them. And we don't often talk about the reciprocity of parenting. It's really about — and you probably grew up in a similar household — it is, "Do what I say," and that is it. And your voice is really not important.

Heather Dubrow (32:20):

Because I said, so.

Jaymes Black (32:22):

Because I said so! And yeah, it's interesting. I've heard my parents say, "Why are you letting them have a voice?" And I'm like, "Well, I want to listen to what they're saying."


"That's not how you pare—" It actually works wonders. But I love that they're listening to you because you listen to them. That reciprocity is so needed. So do you have any advice for any allied parents, any parents who maybe have children who are just coming out? Any advice that you wish maybe that you would've known or that you'd share with them?

Heather Dubrow (32:53):

It's funny, I feel like because I always felt that way coming out of my family, the communication was just always very strong. And it was really not a big deal in our house in the best way. I mean, not that it was not exciting or...You know, however anyone wanted to share things was always exciting as a mom that your kid wants to share stuff with you. Always. But there was no big moments like that. What I would say is if you are a parent with children that are curious or questioning or know and are having trouble sharing with you, I would talk to as many people as you can, and I would read as many articles and books as you could get your hands on. Knowledge is definitely power. And your kid, let's put it this way, in basic terms. If your kid was really into baseball, like loved baseball, you would learn baseball. You would know the rules of baseball. You would get a baseball hat. You would watch baseball with them, the whole thing. If your child is sharing something with you, get on board. And so knowledge is power, and you need to learn about your kids' community.

Jaymes Black (34:18):

Oh, thank [you]. I love that. And related, I would say, maybe, it's also another question, the whole get on board or to ask questions or talk to as many as people as possible...I go back to the school experience, which we know is already difficult. And then you add the added layer of the "Don't Say Gay" laws that have been passed in so many of the states. And I say so many, but even six is ridiculous, right?

Heather Dubrow (34:39):

Ridiculous. One is ridiculous!

Jaymes Black (34:41):

One is ridiculous. And I wonder how allied parents can maybe show up for schools because, because we also get those questions around..They love their students and their children, but school is really hard, not just from the peer perspective, but the administrators in Iowa [and] places like that. How do they show up for their children when I think we see these administrators as authority figures, and I don't think all parents have the tools to go have these conversations when they want their child to have an equal opportunity in the classroom because of these laws.

Heather Dubrow (35:16):

You do have to go in. I would say there's a bunch of schools, not the schools you're talking about, but there's many schools now that have a position that's called an inclusion director. And I know this is California, and so it's a little bit progressive, but I found to be incredible. I will tell you this, whether you have an inclusion director or you're at a school where they're saying, "Don't Say Gay" that doesn't stop the problems from potentially happening. It can really happen anywhere. And again, protecting your child first, going into the administration, you have to know who that administration is, and feel it out, and see how to protect your child as best you can because you don't want to make it worse. And this, again...It's a tough road to walk because all of us as parents, we want to sort of Norma Ray and get on the table and say, "This is wrong." And that's how you get change. But you still have to protect your kid. And if it's going to make it worse for your kid, you got to find another avenue in.

Jaymes Black (36:26):

And that is not easy.

Heather Dubrow (36:27):

It's not easy. But that's why allies need allies. And I would really suggest to parents — especially parents in these kinds of communities where "Don't Say Gay" is happening and all these terrible anti-LGBTQ+ legislations are happening — that they find community, that they reach out to local chapters of beautiful organizations like Family Equality and GLAAD and all kinds of other resources to find other families and other people that you can connect with. Because listen, there's not only safety in numbers, there's strength in numbers. And like I was saying earlier with my kid that wasn't speaking and I had no idea and no one wanted to say anything. There could be a hundred families in your school that could get together and affect change, but you don't know it until you start figuring that out.

Jaymes Black (37:22):

Start having the conversations. And it does take a little bit of, it's going to take some courage, which is really uncomfortable, I'm sure. But it feels like once you start having those conversations, you have this community that sort of opens up to you and maybe you'll feel safer that way and probably less stressed, right? I'm sure it's really stressful, especially in areas like Iowa or Texas and some of these other areas that can feel really dangerous to our families. I want to talk more about community or how Heather is helping us build community at Family Equality, not with just your voice, but with this beautiful partnership that we have with you called GEMS. G-E-M-S. And this is a partnership with Heather and Equality Vines and Family Equality. And one of the things I have to - have to tell you is that before I ever knew you, my wife and I started adopting the word "Champs" long ago, a decade ago before we had kids. Heather calls Champagne, "Champs." I'm pretty sure you coined it. And if you didn't, I'm going to say you did because that's how I heard it. But this partnership really is about this wine launch. It's champs, right? Four different types.


The sale of these items are going to help the work of Family Equality. Help us build community. So I'm so excited about this GEMS partnership and wondered if you want to talk a bit more about it, what it means to you. It's sort of a year in the making, and this beautiful partnership is now launched. I'm so excited about it!

Heather Dubrow (38:51):

So exciting. I can't even tell you. Yeah, it's been over a year. We've been working on this, and basically I was approached for this collab to do these sparkling wines and the GEMS represent each of my four kids as my special precious gems, which they are. And we've created, well, just so you know, four of the most incredible sparkling wines that Rack and Riddle is producing. And I have to tell you, when they first approached me, I'm like, "Oh, this is so cool." This is a great idea because I'm known for the Champs. I said, but I need a hundred percent of the proceeds to go to Family Equality. And everyone said Yes. And Equality Vines and Rack and Riddle is also kicking back money from each bottle to Family Equality on top of it. So I am so blown away by just that alone because that makes me incredibly happy. So they're incredible wines. The whole experience has been so beautiful. You're going to get to see some of this on the Real Housewives of Orange County. No, spoiler alert there.

Jaymes Black (40:03):

Yes, let's mention that.

Heather Dubrow (40:05):

Definitely. So you're going to want to watch season 18 because you're going to be seeing some Family Equality. But I have to say it's just been such an amazing journey with this collab. The wines are fantastic. It's all going to Family Equality. They do such amazing work with families. I'm so proud and so blessed to be embraced and loved by this community. Last year, I was the honorary co-chair with Dan Bukatinsky for the Family Equality Gala. And we just had a ball and met so many wonderful families that have been affected by Family Equality. And I was so happy to finally meet Jaymes and Cheralyn and become friends. And this is an amazing community. It's an amazing organization. And I'm excited not just for everyone to get their Champs home — Because it's fabulous. And the bottles are so beautiful! You're going to want to serve 'em at every party. You're going to want to have them out. They're gorgeous. — but I'm just really honored to be a part of all of this, and I really am excited to raise a ton of money.

Jaymes Black (41:11):

I so appreciate that. And we need partnerships like you. Voices like you. I mean, everyone knows, you and I talked about this before, we're on the smaller side in terms of the organizations, but we're trying to be and want to be and will be the organization for all of our families. And what does that mean? We have to grow. And how do we grow? With unique partnerships and out of the box thinking, right? Champs, who would've thought that? And this is exactly what we need to do. So I'm so excited about how this is not only going to help us build community, but become an even more prominent organization to serve not just queer-headed households, but straight-headed households. Households like yours and all the parents that we do hear, coming to us and saying, "My child just came out in our family." Or "Do you embrace me?" And the answer is, absolutely. We do. This partnership is going to help us move mountains there. I think.

Heather Dubrow (42:06):

I just love it. I love it. I think it's so special and everyone involved has just been incredible.

Jaymes Black (42:14):

It was wonderful. And I know that people who are going to watch season 18 will not have the opportunity to see everything from when we filmed. But what a beautiful experience.

Heather Dubrow (42:25):

Oh, it was so great. And I haven't obviously seen it yet, but I hope they show as much as possible. It was just incredible, and I can't wait for everyone to see it. And there's a lot of drama too. I can't talk about that, but you'll have to wait and see.

Jaymes Black (42:43):

But it was exciting!

Heather Dubrow (42:44):

You should all go pre pre-buy your GEMS Champagne so that you have it for a viewing party.

Jaymes Black (42:52):

Yes, please. Pre-order. And I'm sure when we post this episode, we'll make sure that all the links are there so people can go. So we'll do that. So what motivates you to do this work? Because you are doing the work of an advocate. I hope that you know that. What motivates you to do this work?

Heather Dubrow (43:09):

Look, I am so lucky. I'm grateful I've been given this crazy platform. And what do you do with it? So like I am saying, I want to show our normal families, start conversations in other people's families, and really just normalize all of our normal families. When I sit on a panel, whether I'm with Family Equality or the Human Rights Campaign or GLAAD or the Trevor Project, or we were recently at the LGBT Center in LA volunteering and just meeting people and talking to people and showing up, you think that doesn't do a lot. It does. So much, so much.

Jaymes Black (44:00):

Just showing up, exactly what you're saying.

Heather Dubrow (44:02):

Just showing up. Listen, if you're a parent out there and you're a gay couple or you have gay children or trans children or whoever you have, show up, go to the Center or get involved. Even if it's a little way you could serve food at the cafe in the center, there's so many ways that you can get involved that will feel good for you, and you realize how much it all makes, all of it, to be honest with you. Forget about the TV show and all that. What I find so incredible and gratifying is when I go around in the world, it used to be, "Oh, I love your show" or this or that. People will come up to me and talk to me about their children or their parents, and it's amazing. And I feel like that's how our community is connecting. And if I am sort of the catalyst for some of that, fantastic.

Jaymes Black (45:00):

Absolutely. And I have to say as an LGBTQ+ person, having our allies is so important to me. It is. I mean, I know that you are in rooms that I may never be in. I know that there are people who will listen to you as an ally before they listen to you, a queer voice. And it's why I appreciate so much that y'all are out there, that you're out there, that you're having the conversations. And I always tell my ally friends, I'm like...They're like, "What's real allyship mean?" And I would say it means that you are taking up for me in the rooms that I'm not in and not just succumbing to whatever is said. And I know that you take that approach and just know that our community so appreciates it because I don't ever want to undermine the importance of allyship. It is so important. It's a critical part of the movement. It's how we, as my friend Kelly Robinson from HRC says, get free. It is how we get free and we need our allyship. So closing question. So as you know, the movement for equality hinges on not only fierce honesty, but also fierce hope. We talked about hope during our filming. What is one thing that you're fearlessly hoping for in the future? And what was one thing that you want to see changed in the world?

Heather Dubrow (46:17):

I mean, to me it's just the obvious of, I hope that we don't have to have conversations like this. We will just be.

Jaymes Black (46:34):

Can we say that's a mic drop? I got goosebumps. Because Heather, all I want to do is just be.

Heather Dubrow (46:39):


Jaymes Black (46:42):

Walk down the street holding my wife's hand.

Heather Dubrow (46:43):

Just be.

Jaymes Black (46:43):

And just be. And I know your children and our children just want to be. I really appreciate that.

Heather Dubrow (46:50):

It's funny. I appreciate that of you and your wife and because it's so normal to me, I don't think about it, but I was watching my daughter and her girlfriend walk down the street while we were in Boston when I went to go pick her up from college. And I saw these people turn around, and it's not that they made a face or there was nothing untoward, but they just noticed it. And I thought, I can't wait for people to not turn around.

Jaymes Black (47:16):

Yeah. Yeah. That's exactly it. And we can't wait either, because there's always this sort of, even in the most progressive places, we sort of feel like we have to turn and look and make sure —

Heather Dubrow (47:29):

That that you're okay.

Jaymes Black (47:31):

Right! That we're okay. And if they look, what does that mean? So I really appreciate that. So before I let you go, is there anything that you want to share with the audience? Projects, initiatives, season 18, anything?

Heather Dubrow (47:43):

Season 18 is coming out. GEMS. We're going to put a link so you can pre-order GEMS champagne. You're going to love it. My podcast, "Let's Talk with Heather Dubrow" comes out every Thursday everywhere you get your podcast. And I just love Family Equality.

Jaymes Black (48:00):

Heather, it has been a pleasure speaking with you today.

Heather Dubrow (48:02):

Me too.

Jaymes Black (48:03):

I'm so thankful for you and your allyship. You're a member of our community always and forever, and we're so grateful for you.

Heather Dubrow (48:09):

Thank you.

Jaymes Black (48:17):

This has been a Family Equality production. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to advance equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find form and sustain their families. I'm your host, Family Equality's President and CEO, Jaymes Black. Our producers are the Communications team at Family Equality, and our amazing music is designed by Michael Koppelman. Special thanks to Clockwork for supporting this podcast. And special thanks to you for listening. The fun doesn't have to stop here. Follow Family Equality on socials @FamilyEquality for up-to-date resources, community events, insights from the movement, and ways to get involved. You can also follow me at @TheJaymesBlack on Instagram and TikTok. Remember, this is more than a podcast. It's a platform for change. So rate, subscribe, and review this podcast to help us spread the word. As always, you can support Family Equality and the amazing work we're doing on behalf of LGBTQ+ families every day by donating at donate.familyequality.org. You can also reach out to chat more about potential sponsorship opportunities. But for now, I'll catch you next time.