Traveling to the USA as an au pair is an exciting chance to learn English, travel and become more independent. But for many hopeful au pairs, moving to a different country can also bring feelings of concern about being accepted and loved by a different family, group of friends and community. For young people who identify as LGBTQ+ and have experienced judgement before, these feelings can be even stronger.
We hope it’s reassuring to hear that when we asked our LGBTQ+ au pairs to tell their stories, they had only positive ones to share. They describe feeling accepted by American society and finding acceptance within themselves. Au pairs are also grateful for the chance to open their host kids’ minds to people’s differences.
Sarah, au pair from Brazil, says of her host family: “They respect me, they don’t have a different view on the normality of being gay!”
When we ask our au pairs what surprises them most about the USA, the most common answer is how open-minded and welcoming Americans are. Sarah, a Brazilian au pair living in Pennsylvania, has found that her host family is very accepting of her and shares, “I never felt any problems due to my sexual orientation with my host family or Cultural Care Au Pair. I’m going to my second year with a new family, and they respect me, they don’t have a different view on the normality of being gay! Love is love, and two equal bodies doesn’t make difference!”
Mexican au pair Alejandro extended with his host family for a second year!
Male au pair Alejandro, from Mexico, also finds his host family and community very accepting. He says, “My host family has been supportive since the beginning of this wonderful adventure and I couldn’t be happier with them. That’s why I decided to stay with them for another year. That’s what I love about my au pair experience…I can be whoever I want to be. I can be free!” This newly found freedom has been life-changing for Alejandro who shares, “I’ve become more confident, independent and proved to myself that I can do things that I never thought I’d be able to do.”
Italian au pair Irene is happy that her host family accepts her for who she is.
Italian au pair Irene was nervous to share this part of herself with her host family. “Usually I’m a very easygoing and extroverted person, but this time I was a bit scared because I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, Irene’s host family supports her and, she says, “I’m feeling much better.”
Former Argentinean au pair Chili (far right), is pictured here with her host family.
Some au pairs also find that starting over in a new environment gives them the courage to be true to themselves and publicly “come out” as gay or lesbian. Chili, former au pair from Argentina, spent two years in Colorado with her host family and says, “I technically ‘came out’ during my time as an au pair. There are some exceptions, but in general nobody cares if a boy wants to wear heels, paint his nails and be Elsa or if a girl wants to play with tools, cars and be Batman. In all my time in the USA I never felt anyone judging me or even caring about me being who I am. All I felt was support and love.”
Fruzsi, au pair from Hungary, admits that before she came to the USA as an au pair, “I always hid my true self”.
Hungarian au pair Fruzsi shares, “I was always a shy person, and never liked to talk a lot. I could never be whoever I wanted to in my home country because people judge, and I couldn’t get to a point by myself where I didn’t care about people’s opinion. So I always hid my true self.” During her time in the USA, however, things changed for Fruzsi. “Since coming here, I dress the way I want, I wear my hair the way I want because I know nobody cares. People accept you the way you are. They don’t expect you to be someone else. And after one year in the States I finally came out to my family and I feel much more comfortable.” Fruzsi points out that it was easier to do here because “San Francisco is a mecca for gay people, and it’s completely normal to everybody—love is love. I know this won’t be the same wherever I go after the States, but I got to the point where I don’t care what other people think!”
German au pair Laura (pictured at right), is excited to help her host kids develop empathy and acceptance for all human beings regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
Apart from finding acceptance from others and from themselves, LGBTQ+ au pairs also have an opportunity to make the world a better place through their role as childcare providers. German au pair Laura has been an active member of the LGBTQ+ community long before arriving to the USA—she belongs to many LBGTQ+ Facebook groups and is involved with the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Laura says coming to the U.S. has allowed her make another positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community in that she helps her host kids understand the importance of acceptance and empathy. “I don’t really talk about myself with my host children, but I try to educate them as best as I can about the whole LGBTQ+ community. My hope is I that I am helping to secure a generation of open-minded children for whom LGBTQ+ is not just a bunch of letters mixed together, but rather has meaning.” Laura says that being an au pair in the USA has also helped her “experience how big, loud and amazingly colorful Pride can be and how important it is to stick together as one community and treat each other with kindness and respect.”
For those young people who are LGBTQ+ and want to become au pairs? Fruzsi’s advice is: “Don’t miss out on this experience, you can only do this while you’re young! I learned how to love myself and be proud of who I am.” Laura adds: “Just do it and spread your love and diversity with the whole world as much as possible.” The most important thing, Chili reminds us, is “just make sure you love kids!”