Three Things to Know When Someone You Love tells you they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

11 12 2013

I recently realized I write to process my pain. I have not been blogging much the past 6 months, which means my life is going pretty well. That is a good thing. A lot has changed since those early days of my son coming out. It no longer feels like a crisis or even like a negative thing in any way. I am so grateful for the people in my world who have helped me along the way to get to this place of complete peace with my son being bisexual. So many mentors and teachers and just friends, who held my hand through the past few years. I hope these three simple things might help other people in their early days of this discovery.

1)Stop thinking about sex. This was one of the 1st pieces of advise I received. When we hear someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, as human beings, our first thought is about them in the bedroom. I personally believe this comes from our culture and how we have been conditioned to believe LGBT people are all just about sleeping around. Regardless of why our mind goes there – tell yours to stop. Sex is a small part of who your LGBT loved one is, just like your sex life is a small part of who you are. So, get your mind out of the gutter, or in this case, their bedroom.

2)Take some time to just breath. As shocking as this news can be, and even though you may feel like the rug has been swept from under your feet. Life really hasn’t changed that much. Your loved one is the same person they were before. They have not changed, they were already LGBT, you just didn’t know about it. Take a moment to think about parents sitting by their child’s side watching them take their last breath. This may be shocking, but it isn’t the end of the world and there are much worse things to have to live through – so gain some perspective. It will be a journey and it will not be easy, but it is definitely not the worst thing that could happen in your family.

3)Your LGBT loved one has shown great courage in sharing themselves with you. They need to know that even if you don’t understand it all, you still love them unconditionally. They need to know you have their back. Because not everyone will, some people they love dearly will turn their back on them in the coming days and months. They will need extra love and acceptance from you. Be intentional about letting them know you are there for them, today, next week, and next year. That is really all that they need to know, that this new information doesn’t change your love for them.

So breath and take one moment at a time. This journey can be an amazing one of discovery. Discovery about yourself and your own fears, discovery about how strong family bonds can be, and discovery of ways to live without fear or judgment. Chin up, Buttercup, life goes on.





A Parent’s Love…

17 04 2013

As a parent, I can not imagine anything that would keep me from loving my kids. Maybe all parents love their kids, they just don’t accept them. There is a large percentage of LGBT kids and adults who have been rejected by one or both parents. I meet them all the time. Every single story breaks my heart, both for the parents and their children. It is really a no win situation for everyone.

I guess, as a parent, I wonder what would be stronger than your love for your child. Let me tell you right up front – I do not know the answer. I do know for me that it was hard when my son came out – but I wanted desperately to understand it all. That is why I started seeking out answers. Answers from Christians who are open and affirming of LGBT people, answers from people I trusted, basic information on what bisexuality means – I had no clue.

Maybe that is another clue – what would keep them so fearful that they wouldn’t want to figure it out. It is almost like they are stuck in quicksand or something. The draw to stay stuck seems stronger than the love that would propel them to move forward into education. Maybe it is a deep fear of what people will think? Maybe they already feel inadequate so they are afraid this will reflect that they were not a good parent? Maybe they really are so wrapped up in themselves that they can’t put their child’s feelings above their own?

I make them sound selfish, and I don’t mean to. I just don’t get it. I do not understand. Maybe they have such a deep belief that God thinks it is wrong, that they fear for their own salvation if they condone or approve of what they consider “sinful” or “unacceptable” behavior. Maybe they are not even religious, but culture norms are so engrained in them that the idea of homosexuality disgusts them?

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. Because today as the world continues to turn, there are hearts aching for reconciliation. Lives changed forever because someone is being true to who they are. I think that is the piece that does seem selfish to me. In any relationship, if someone puts pressure on someone else to conform and be who they want them to be instead of who they are just to gain acceptance. In any normal relationship my advise would be for them to run. But what do you do if it is your parent telling you to change or they won’t accept you into the family anymore. That is selfish and unfair of anyone to do, but especially a parent. The one person in the world who should love someone no matter what.

I will say this to anyone rejected by their parent because of their coming out. You are beautiful, and wonderful, and worthy of unconditional love. I am very sorry that your parent could not get past their own issues to accept and love you as you are, but there is nothing wrong with you. You are not broken. You are the same person that you have always been. Your parents should love you unconditionally, and you don’t need to make excuses or allowances for them – they are completely wrong in this situation. You hold your head high and find other people in your life to feel those voids left by your parent. Don’t give up hope, because I have heard many stories of reconciliation after even 50 years. At the same time, don’t wait for their acceptance. Learn to love yourself and live life to the fullest. You deserve happiness, you deserve love.





As a Mom…

13 02 2013

How does it feel as a mom to see things in the news. It depends on the day. Somedays I can distance myself from it and not let it bother me. Such as the recent teacher in Indiana and the students who don’t want gay students at their prom. (you can read about it here) I can read that, and tears come into my eyes and I wonder if the gay kids have supportive family. Are they even out to their family yet? Or are they dealing with all of the rejection and judgement alone – within their own head? It breaks my heart – but I can rationalize – “that isn’t my kid” and I can store it away on a shelf of sadness – yet not let it affect me.

Why would I do that? because the pain is too great to bear. The percentage of those LGBT kids who don’t know that life will get better and go ahead and end their own lives before they find out – it seems like too much pain to carry around. Somedays I just can’t do it.

Other days I can. Other days I allow myself to feel what those parents and kids must be feeling. On those days I want to draw my sword and charge like a Samuria Warrior in battle. Those days I want to hug all of those parents and kids – absorb their pain and let it drive me to continue on in this fight for justice. Don’t forget that one day, not that long ago, I would’ve been the one applauding that teacher. I would have been the parent so proud of my child for standing up for their “Christian values” I was the one blind to the pain and hurt that people of faith are actually causing in this world. I was the exact person I now feel such disdain for.

There comes in hope – If I could change – if my Southern Baptist Mama could stand at Montana Pride holding a sign above her head that read “1 Straight, Proud, Christian Grandma” and playing “Over the Rainbow” on her boombox so that the man on the ladder screaming his judgment and shame couldn’t be heard – if we can change – there really is hope. What will it take? The truth – the truth will set you free – just like it did us. The truth about what Jesus said about homosexuality – NOTHING by the way. The truth about what the bible really said in original Hebrew and Greek. The Truth – that is all that is needed.

I have a dear friend whom I am proud to call my friend. She recently attended several session by an Ex-gay minister, who is unfortunately spreading lies about homosexuality. He is not speaking the truth. She tried to stand up on the last night during a Q & A time and read a statement that was a few minutes long. She was not only thrown out of that “loving” Christian church – she was nearly physically assaulted. There is something very wrong with what is happening in our churches today. You can read what happened  here .

 

In case you don’t read it all – this is the part you NEED to know. This is the statement Kathy was going to read – this is the TRUTH about rejecting our children when they come out:

“Do you know the consequences of rejecting your gay youth as opposed to accepting them?

If parents with gay children were to follow the teachings and therapeutic tools offered by Kent Paris, your gay youth are EIGHT times more apt to attempt suicide than those gay youth who are accepted.

They may suffer depression SIX times more often than those who are accepted.

They are THREE times more likely to get involved in drug and alcohol abuse than those gay youth that are accepted.

They are THREE times more likely to contract HIV and/or STDs than accepted gay youth

This is research; this is scientific, peer reviewed research.

If you are the parent of a gay youth, when you leave here, stop on the way home and buy a package of razors, a bottle of whiskey, a hypodermic needle and a lifetime supply of antibiotics because that is the life you will more often impose on your gay child through your rejection and shaming.

This is what you will be doing to the child you have been charged to raise in the way they should go.

Do not try to force your child to be something they are not, something to your liking. You will not only be responsible for the effects on their mental and physical health, you will also, in all likelihood, push them from God.”





Parents

7 01 2013

Being a parent is not easy task… I once heard a comedian say “If it was going to be easy, it wouldn’t start with something called labor!” I have learned so much from my kids though, more than I probably actually taught them. I have had to deal with my own “stuff” in order to put them first and be the best parent I could be, which to be honest, was quite lacking at times. There are no perfect parents – and those who think they are, are probably far worse than the rest of us!

My friend, who is a therapist, told me once that if a couple comes into her office and claim that they never fight then she knows she will really have A LOT of work to do with them. It is normal to have conflict in relationships, even healthy. If there is no conflict, then one of the people in the relationship is not using their voice. I think from this perspective that it is ok if a parent struggles with their kid’s coming out. I mean one thing we tend to forget is that by the time a child comes out to their parents, they themselves have already had a lot of processing time. I would like to think that most parents come around, even if it takes a bit of time. I know there are sad exceptions to this rule, but it is true for most of us. We just need a bit of information and someone to tell us things like “get your head out of the gutter and quit thinking of sex!” and we will remember that this is OUR child. The one we fell madly in love with the day we first laid eyes on them.

Love will usually win in the end, even if fear tries to push it aside, and maybe fear wins for a while. Fear may win the battle, but Love will usually win the war. We are in this for the long haul, the marathon – so ignore your sprint time. I will forgive myself for crying for two weeks when my son came out. I am now running the marathon and I don’t have time to beat myself up about my 1st split time. Want to run with me?





Things I have learned from LGBT friends and family

14 11 2012

As a straight person, I have learned a lot from LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people. Probably the most important thing I have learned is that it is OK to not know all the right words or terminology. I used to be afraid, and still am at times, that I will say something offensive. I can honestly say that even speaking the word “lesbian” felt awkward and uncomfortable for me at first. It is now a normal part of speech around our house, but it never used to be.

As a straight person who had never been around or interacted with LGBT people – I sometimes feel as if I have entered a different universe. The truth is – they are not much different from the rest of us in every area – except who they love. There really is not some big chasm between all of us – at the root of it all, we are all just people doing the best we can with the hand we have been dealt. So, if you wonder something 0r want to know  something – Just ask!! They would much be asked than us just make our own assumptions.

I have learned quite a bit about myself – that I have a lot of insecurities and things that I see as flaws that I try to cover up or hide – that others find just fine in me. Much like a LGBT person being accepted for exactly who they are at this moment – that is what I want too. I am far from perfect, I take things too personally, I overreact sometimes, I have a temper and say nasty things, I judge people by outward appearances. All of these stem from experiences of feeling rejected and feeling like I wasn’t good enough at different times in my past. We all have our traumas and negative life experiences to work through and heal from. The beginning of this healing has to start with us accepting ourselves, that doesn’t mean we just make excuses and stay stuck – but it does mean we forgive ourselves when we mess up and try to learn from it.

I have seen so many friends struggle with accepting their sexuality and accepting who they are. I have heard so many talk about all the years they prayed that God would take their same-sex attractions away and make them straight. There are enough horror stories out there about all the of “pray away the gay” programs that we all know they are a farce. One’s sexuality is inherent and who they are – it can not be “cured”. It is amazing to watch a person blossom once they begin to accept who they are and love themselves anyway. The healing begins and they begin to grow into the beautiful person they are designed to be.

I think that is what we all need – to love ourselves, no matter our sexual orientation or what our past traumas or issues are. We can forgive those who have hurt us, not for their sake, but for ours, quit beating ourselves up and trying to fit the molds that society is trying to put us in, and begin to love ourselves right now today! Let the healing begin and we can begin to grow into the lovely people who are lurking inside just waiting to be shown to the world.

You are beautiful – right now today – gay or straight, fat or thin, old or young – our beauty is what is deep inside of us and spills out onto the rest of the world. Let’s start letting beauty and acceptance of ourselves and others overflow all over the world. It will change us and those around us – we should being right now!





Dear Mom and Dad

15 10 2012

Dear Mom or Dad,

I am a parent as well and wanted to write you a quick note. I realize that right now you are not feeling very chipper, in fact you may feel as if you were just punched in the gut, just take some deep breaths and give me a minute or two of your day.

I have been where you are. I have a kid who has recently told me about his sexuality… and it was a shock. When my kids were small and homosexuality would come up, I would get a twinge of fear and wonder “could one of my kids be gay” – but then I would quickly toss it aside and say to myself  “Nah – that can’t happen – we are good parents. We are raising them up in church to obey the bible.” Well, you can see how that worked out for me – and apparently you as well. Let me just assure you of one thing before we move on – we ARE good parents. Good parents love their children unconditionally, and if you are reading this then I know you love your child. Secondly, good parents are not afraid to admit when they were wrong.

The most important thing right now is your child. Not what your family will say or think or what your church friends will say or think – but what your child is going through. Imagine all the years of turmoil they have been experiencing all on their own – with no one to help carry the load with them. They couldn’t come to us, because we had already made it clear what our views on the subject were – “homosexuality is a choice and a sin – no one can tell me different – I have read my Bible!!” Have you ever uttered those words? I know I did, and more than once! Oh gosh, if I had only known then what I know now – that every time I uttered those words, I was hurting my child in a way that damaged his self-esteem and for sure his confidence. In my defence, I had no idea – but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurt my child deeply.

So, here we are now – parents of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender child. I don’t know about you, but when my kid came out of the closet – I went into one. I had many conservative friends and I had no idea who I could safely talk to. It was weeks of that before I was brave enough to call a friend. I didn’t even know her very well, but I knew that she had a gay sibling. As fate would have it – her father has been helping parents learn to love and accept their gay children for twenty years! He was a life saver for me. I know he would help you too, if he could! Well, he can!

This letter is a guide to all of the information and resources that he sent me to immediately. I soaked it up like a sponge. A Christian had never told me before that homosexuality was NOT a choice and a sin. I had never gotten that memo – how refreshing to seek the truth! Isn’t it ironic that the one thing that should bring us peace and freedom – our faith – is the actual source of our pain during this time of learning about our child? I am a Christian, so I am just gonna say it – Christians are hypocrites. Now, don’t get angry if you are a Christian – just hear me out. We cling to these homosexuality verses like they are a matter of life or death yet we ignore TONS of stuff in the bible. Are you wearing clothes of two different fibers? Of course we are! Do you eat shrimp? Well, that is an abomination. I don’t know about you, but I have yet in my lifetime seen a woman stoned on her wedding night for being found to not be a virgin. I mean the bible says that is the only option to deal with such a situation. I am not trying to offend you, I really am not, but just let it sink in for a minute. Let your mind open up and hear this new information. Your child is NOT an abomination – well, maybe they are, but did you know that abomination had a different meaning at the time the bible was written than it does today? Do I have your attention? I hope for your child’s sake, that you are still with me.

The first and most important thing that my friend said to me was this: “Stop thinking about sex. When we hear about someone’s sexuality, the first place our mind goes is to sex. Sex is a very small part of who your child is – just like it is for you as a heterosexual person. Your child is the same person they have always been, you have just learned something new about them. They haven’t changed, your perception of them has.”

Places to turn for information:

Movies: “For the Bible Tells Me So”

“Prayers for Bobby”

“Fish Can’t Fly”

Websites: PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – also includes Bisexual and Transgender)

Here are a few of my own that I have found specifically helpful for dealing with the Bible and Faith:

Kathy – an amazing, straight, Christian Ally – who tells it like it is

Believe Out Loud

Now – run, do not walk – RUN …. or type as fast as you can: PFLAG Chapter Info … or just click the link – and find a chapter near you – and GO to the meeting! I know it is scary – I remember the first meeting we went to – my heart was beating so fast it felt like it was coming out of my chest.

Here’s the deal – Mom or Dad – we are parents – and parents – good parents – put their kid’s needs ahead of their own. We do the right thing – even when it is the hardest thing we have ever done in our life. So, take a few more deep breaths and start doing your research. I can not promise you that this will be the easiest thing you have ever done, but I can promise you that it will be a very rewarding journey.

And, while we are at it – call or text or email that queer kid right now – and tell them that even though you don’t understand all of this – that you love them and they matter to you. Tell them you are going to start eduacating yourself and that you would appreciate their patience with you in the meantime. I assure you – they will be happy to comply – because you will have just done the one thing they have hoped and prayed for all of their lives – you have shown them that they matter to you, more than what your friends think or what your church says. They are your kid and you are their parent – and together you will get through this!

with love and hope for all of us –

Michele G