PARENTS

 

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Straight Parents, Gay Kids

 

Talking to Your Gay Son About Anti-Gay Violence

Don't Sneak: Father's Advice to Gay Son
Grandfather of the Year

My Teenager is Gay

Explaining Lesbian Sex to Mom

Common Fears and How to be Supportive

Everyone is Gay: Project for Parents of LGBT Youth

Rules for Helping Gay Kids Be Themselves

92 Year Old Mother of Lesbian Daughters Attends NYC Pride for 30 Years

Sally Field Receives HRC Ally Award and Talks About Gay Son

Southern Baptist Father's Reaction to Gay Son

 


Parents of LGBT Children


Parenting gay children can be challenging, rewarding and ultimately life changing. The level of acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity by fathers and mothers can detract from or expand a child's healthy growth and development in countless ways. Too many of our LGBT youth face emotional isolation, rejection, and complete withdrawal from parents that lead many to depression, drugs and alcohol and even homelessness.

 

Hearing the words "Mom, Dad, I think I am gay" can be life changing for many parents. Within an instant of hearing these words, their preconceived image, dreams and future expectations of their child are dramatically reshaped. Parents can choose to be supportive - this is still the same child they have always loved - and they can grow with their children as they venture into lives with LGBT relationships.

All too often, young people look to parents to be their ultimate support, but, unfortunately, parents cannot overcome the hurdles of prejudice. Ultimately, many mothers and fathers distance, alienate and disown their children because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
        
Some young people would choose isolation or death rather than disclose to their parents, while others feel they are the only people they can turn to. The level of trust is immense as a child who has inwardly struggled with sexual orientation or gender identity decides to confide in his or her parents.

 

Clearly, parental responses to a child's gay disclosure can range along a continuum from complete rejection to extreme activism. Points on this continuum vary, grow and evolve as the nature of the relationship and deeper understandings emerge. Parental alienation can reinforce self-hatred, isolation and suicidal ideation; indeed, parental rejection can be life threatening.

 

LINKS:

 

Coming Out: Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen

Huff Post Video: My Teen is Gay
Dr. Phil Talks With Parent of Bisexual Daughter
My Child is Gay...What Do I Do Now?
Parenting Gay Youth
All My Children are Gay

Parents' Response is Key to Health of Gay Youth
Parents of Gay Teens Get Help With Acceptance
Family Acceptance is Key to LGBT Youth Wellbeing
Understanding Your Gay Teen

I Finally Explained Lesbian Sex to My Mom

Boys Playing with Dolls?

 


Positive Response


What can parents say (or not say) if they suspect a teen is gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
 

Carolyn Wagner, national vice president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), says a good place to start is with a statement that offers acceptance instead of judgment. This lets a teen know that Mom or Dad is approachable and open to discussions about sexual identity:

"I just want to let you know that if you're having feelings that are different from other boys (or girls), it's okay to tell me because there's nothing you can say to me that's going to make me any less proud of you, or love you any less."

What should parents say (or not say) if a teen says s/he is gay, lesbian or bisexual?
 

When a teen comes out, the same expression of love and support is called for, Wagner believes. She urges parents to separate their belief in their child from whatever religious beliefs may conflict with a child's sexual identity.

"When our 13-year-old son talked to us about being gay, my husband said, 'Son, I love you just the same, and you're the same son to me that you were five minutes ago.' It was very straightforward and simple. Our son jumped up, huge tears rolling down his face, and gave his father a big hug. It was only then that we learned he'd tried to commit suicide several times, and had been getting depressed. Talking really was a big relief."

 

LINKS:

 

Tips for Parents of an LGBT Child
Dear Parents: Teach Us Tolerance
American Social Health Association: Gay Youth Notes
Gay Family Support

Supporting & Protecting Your LGBT Child
Note To My Kid

 


Tips for Parents


Engage with your child. Your LGBT child requires and deserves the same level of care, respect, information, and support as non-LGBT children. Ask questions, listen, empathize, share and just be there for your child.

 

Get informed. Get the facts about sexual orientation and gender identity. Learn new language and the correct terminology to communicate effectively about sexual orientation and gender identity. Challenge yourself to learn and to go beyond stereotyped images of LGBT people.
 

Get to know the community. What resources are available? Find out if there is a Gay/Straight Alliance at school, a community group for LGBT and questioning teens, a bookstore with a selection of books and magazines on LGBT issues, or a LGBT community center nearby.

 

Explore the Internet. There is a growing amount of excellent information on the World Wide Web that connects people with support and materials on these important topics.

 

Find out where your local PFLAG group meets. Many parents say that their connections with other parents of LGBT kids made a world of difference in their progress toward understanding their young people. Finding another person you can trust to share your experience with is invaluable. Many people have gone through similar things and their support, lessons learned, and empathy can be very valuable.

 

Don't make it ALL there is.  Just because your child has come out as LGBT does not mean the young person's whole world revolves around sex or sexual orientation or gender identity. It will be a big part of who the youth is, especially during the process of figuring it all out, including what it means to be LGBT. Still, being LGBT isn't the sum of life for your child, and it is vital to encourage your child in other aspects of life, such as school, sports, hobbies, friends, and part-time jobs.

 

Ask your child before you "come out" to others on the child's behalf. Friends and family members might have questions or want to know what's up; but it is most important to be respectful of what your child wants. Don't betray your child's trust!

 

Praise your LGBT child for coming to you to discuss this issue. Encourage the youth to continue to keep you "in the know." If your child turns to you to share personal information, you're must be doing something right! You are askable. You're sending out consistent verbal and non-verbal cues that say, "Yes, I'll listen. Please talk to me!" Give yourself some credit—your LGBT child chose to come out to you. Congratulations!

 

Find out what kind of support services are in place at your child's school. Does the school or school district have a non-discrimination policy? Is a there an LGBT/straight support group? Do you know any "out" people, or their friends and loved ones, to whom you can turn for information?

 

Educate yourself on local, state and national laws and polices regarding LGBT people. On the national level, LGBT people are still second-class citizens in regard to some national policies and their rights are not guaranteed by law. Consider educating yourself about this and finding out what you can do to work toward extending equal rights to LGBT people in the United States.

 


Reaction to DOMA Ruling

 

June 2013

John Archibald / Birmingham News

 

I was maybe 11 years old when my mom sat me down to talk about my brother, Murray. It was the 70s, in the parsonage of First United Methodist Church of Decatur, where my dad served as senior pastor.  "Do you know what a homosexual is?" my mom asked.  My first reaction, of course, was Dear God, No! I didn't want this conversation, I didn't need this conversation, I wanted to be anywhere but there, talking homosexual with my mom. But I nodded, and my mother went on.  "Murray has told your father and me that he is, homo...er, well,... gay," she said.  "I'm not sure what it all means, but he is still your brother – our son – and nothing has changed. We love him."  And that was it. Forever.

 

Pictured here is John Archibald's Father (right) and his bother Murray (left).

 


 

So forgive me today if I do not quote legal experts on what will happen now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Forgive me if I do not consider the implications in Alabama or beyond, if I don't ponder the future of wedded bliss in America, or in Alabama, where enchantment for marriage is matched only by addiction to divorce.  Because I can't see the issue without seeing ... family.  It became clearer last week as we buried my father. The funeral was right back there at First United Methodist in Decatur.  And Steve Elkins, my brother's monogamous partner since I was 15 years old, sang "Shepherd Me O God" at the funeral. And it was beautiful. And Murray spoke from that pulpit where dad so often preached. And it was beautiful, too. He told of dad's discipline and his ethics, his love for his God and his family. And then, right there in a Southern church in the utter silence, he described bringing Steve home to meet the family 35 years ago. Dad and mom welcomed him the same way they would later welcome my own wife and the spouses of my other siblings.  And it kept a family alive. It kept a family together. It even restored my own brother's faith. "During a period in my life when I felt that the church had turned its back on me, I never felt that from my dad," Murray said from that pulpit. "And the strong faith and deep relationship I have with God today is built on his example."  Dad – good old, old school dad – would never think of himself as a bold fighter for social justice. He did not speak often of Murray being gay, except that once when he gathered the strength to stand before thousands of Methodist preachers debating the acceptance of gays. He argued for equality by stating his undying belief that Jesus is love. And love is unconditional. It was a losing argument, as it turned out. But it was enough for us.  So forgive me today if I don't see a threat to the sacrament of marriage. Forgive me if I cannot see the looming danger of allowing gay people in committed relationships the same privileges awarded the rest of us.  Because I see only my brother and the man I've considered a brother-in-law for 70 percent of my life. I see the best uncles my children could know. I see Murray and Steve, and when I do, I see a lot more than gay men. I see a family.
 

(From John Archibald  /  His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Birmingham News, and on AL.com. Email him at jarchibald@al.com)

 


Note To My Kid


A new and inspiring website called "A Note To My Kid" allows parents to share letters of support for their LGBT sons or daughters.  It is a very heartfelt and encouraging on-line service for the LGBT community and youth. Communication between parents and their LGBT children is critical.  The goal is for "A Note To My Kid" to serve as a platform for communicating love, acceptance and support during a time of great need.  It is also hoped that it will provide parents who are not sure how to broach the subject of sexuality with an opportunity to learn from example.  "A Note To My Kid" provides parents of LGBT and questioning youth, or a any parent for that matter, with a medium for expanding communication and expressing unconditional love.

 

LINK:

Note To My Kid

 

 


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ALGBTICAL

Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama