Courtesy Heather Dubrow Max and Heather Dubrow
Heather Dubrow says it was "no big deal" when her daughter Max came out to her as bisexual last year. Now Max is sharing how her mom's supportive reaction to her news moved her to share her own story publicly.
"I think having a supportive reaction and letting your kid know right then and there that you love them, you support them and you're excited for them, is definitely important," says Max, 18, whose new podcast-based book I'll Give It To You Straight—ish offers advice for families whose children are coming out, or just dealing with the pressures of teenage life. "The only reason I did any of this is to help other people like me use it in a way that I would've liked to use it when I was in that position."
Max announced the news that she was bi on Instagram in June of 2020. "I always knew I was bi, I just thought it was bipolar," Max captioned two photos in which she sits on a grass field with the Pride flag draped around her shoulders.
Heather shared Max's Instagram post, adding the caption: "I love you my beautiful, hilarious, amazing child!"
Behind the scenes, the journey to coming out had been longer in the making.
"When Max came out to me privately, it was kind of funny because we had already discussed it!" recalls Heather, who is making her return to The Real Housewives of Orange County this month.
Says Max, "It was literally a two-minute conversation. I was like, 'What about, like, kissing girls? Have you done that?'"
Heather remembers, "So then I knew. Whatever, no big deal."
Seven months later, Max was ready to formally address the issue she felt she had only hinted at with her mother — though her mother thought she'd already broken the news.
"She goes, 'I have a secret,' and I go, 'Uh-huh,' and and she was like, ''I'm bi,' and I'm like, 'I know. We've talked about this,'" Heather recalls. "For me it was like, 'That's great. This is all normal. Go figure out who you like and who you are. Go be happy!'"
Courtesy Heather Dubrow The Dubrow family
Mom's "nonchalant" response — and her dad and siblings' similarly easy-breezy reactions — made a world of difference to Max.
"Their responses were really easy and really nice and funny and very nonchalant," Max says. "I'm very grateful for that because it shouldn't be a big thing, but it is. And I think them not making it as big of a deal as it.... Them kind of making it a more normal thing was really good."
Heather says she prides herself on her unfiltered relationship with her children: Max and her twin Nick, plus daughters Katarina, 14, and Collette, 10.
"I grew up with a very 1950s mom that didn't talk about anything. I may go in the other direction and talk about too much," says the Heather Dubrow's World podcast host. "I realize that. So I do try to rein myself in a little bit on my podcast so I don't piss everyone off. But I'm really proud of our open conversations and relationships. We have this really amazing relationship."
And she says she's not worried about her kids. "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. So whatever I can do to support them, and in this case Max, I'm in," she says. "So there's nothing she could tell me that would upset me."
The family says the reception to Max's news was very warm in their community, with Max sharing, "I'm really grateful to not have to be worried about it."
Says Heather, "She is incredibly smart and has a lot of resources and has been given the tools she needs to be successful in any situation. Now, that doesn't stop people from being homophobic or racist or anything. So you always have to be prepared for all of those things. But in general, I think that she has such a safe home and parents and siblings and friends and such a great support group."