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.





PFLAG Odessa, TX

27 08 2013

My mom recently invited me to go on a trip with her. She will be attending her 48th High School Reunion. It is in New Mexico. We will also spend a few days in my hometown, Odessa, TX. I was born and raised there and spent the first 30 years of my life in Odessa. I am excited to go see a few folks and to eat some great food. I am especially excited to be a guest at PFLAG Odessa. I can not believe I have been gone for over 10 years, will be in town for 3 days and it worked out to coincide with their monthly meeting.

When I contacted the president of PFLAG to check on the meeting, everything just fell together. Through a series of emails she asked me to speak that night and of course I said yes. Then as emails progressed she eventually had all of my info for a short introduction on their website including my maiden name in case anyone would recognize it. Then she casually mentioned that she was going to run an announcement in the local papers for the meeting.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that scared me a bit. Not for myself, per say, but I have some other family members whom I share that name with who are not really as supportive of equality as I am. I was a little concerned about how they would feel having their name associated with this controversial subject. The next day I mentioned it to my mom. She paused for a moment and I thought for sure she was going to say something like: “I am not so sure that is a good idea.”

But she did not. She paused and then in her thick southern accent said, “well, honey, this is how I see it. If someone wants to get upset or not be our friend over this, they were never really our friend anyway.”

You go Mom!!! She is of course 100% correct. I love my bisexual son, always have, always will. Just like I love my straight daughter and will love my youngest no matter who she turns out to love. If someone has a problem with that, it is exactly that – THEIR problem – no mine. And I refuse to let it be.

I believe that it was God that coincided my short visit exactly at the same time as PFLAG Odessa’s meeting. I have always prayed daily – “Lord, send me.” So, who am I to not go when He calls. I will go and share my story. I will laugh and cry with new friends as we join together across this nation to increase knowledge and spread love – one town at a time, one meeting at a time. one person at a time. It is my honor to be a part of that!!!!





Breaking Stereotypes One Boob at a Time

4 07 2013

I understand bisexual stereotypes, I used to have plenty of them myself. I could not for the life of me understand how anyone could be attracted to both sexes. I suppose that is because I am a straight up, heterosexual woman, no pun intended. I now understand bisexuality as a much more beautiful thing. My son doesn’t really see gender, he sees deep into someone’s soul. He is attracted to people depending on their inner beauty, not their outward appearance.

This brings me to today’s topic. It is interesting that most people’s perception of bisexuality is that they would just hook up with anyone. I am sure there are bisexual people who do, just like there are heterosexuals and gay people who do. What cracks me up about my kid is that if someone is dressed very provocatively he won’t even give them a second glance. Last night we were at a rodeo, there were plenty of short shorts and cleavage. One cute girl passed  by who did have quite a bit hanging out up top, if you follow. I said, “She is cute, Jake.” His response: “She probably has an STD.” Of course, I laughed pretty hard at that, but then this truth struck me. The truth that he breaks most of the stereotypes that I have ever thought or heard about bisexual people.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a 20-year-old man and can appreciate a beautiful body just like the rest of us. I think as humans we don’t need to be ashamed of our bodies and we certainly are weird as far as the amount of sex that is used in advertising in this country yet no one is actually talking about sex. It isn’t healthy in my opinion, but that is a topic for another day. I am talking about breaking stereotypes here. I can assure you that I now know several bisexual people and all the ones I know are just as picky about who they date as my kid is.

Could it be that bisexual people actually have it right? They are looking at the soul of people and looking for beauty there. Nothing superficial or shallow appeals to them, they are seeking true inner beauty. And here I had lumped them all into the slutty, whore category for years. Shame on me.





Smack back to Reality

30 06 2013

Our little Montana town just had an entire weekend of celebrating diversity and raising awareness for equality. It was a great weekend. It was the kind of environment where a person could feel pretty safe to be themselves. Of course what do I know, I am straight. One of the reasons I love these events is seeing same-sex couples openly holding hands, putting their arm around each other, or kissing. All of the things that heterosexuals just take for granted and do in public all the time.

i_love_my_gay_son_button-p145368007344911094en8go_400When we left the rally, we stopped at Costco for a few items. I was still wearing this button. I often wear this button, but seldom have I worn it when my son is present. Yesterday it was just the two of us. This is how the shopping experience went. By the time we had walked fifteen feet into the store, two different people had read my button and then looked at my son with disgust. Granted, it was a Saturday at Costco so there were a lot of people in the store, but still, it seemed excessive. When these things happen my Mama’s heart wants to protect my baby(even if he is 6 foot tall). I looked at Jake, he looked at me, and I asked, “Should I take off my button?” To which he replied, “Hell. no. who cares what anyone thinks.” Well, I really do love my son, so I kept it on.

The looks continued throughout our fifteen minutes in the store. They varied from curious stares to revolted glares. I had two smiles, so that was nice. At Costco they always have a person who checks the receipt as you are walking out the door. I am not sure I really have the words to describe the young lady who was working in this position. After reading the button as I approached and held out my receipt, she looked like she had just eaten an entire lemon, rind and all. She actually hesitated to take the receipt from my hand, as if she might catch something. She would not make eye contact and actually looked off to her right away from us. I have lost friends over my stance for LGBT rights, I have been told I am going to hell and all sorts of things, but this was the first time anyone acted like I was going to give them a disease.

It was a good experience. As a straight person, I have never had anyone act like that towards me, yet this is something LGBT people encounter many times over in their lives. After the amazing Interchange weekend, it was a great reminder that there is still work to be done. There is a reason I speak up and stand up for LGBT equality. Because there are still a lot of people out there who are ignorant and confused. I don’t mind being one of the people who will continue to remind them that our LGBT friends and family members are not going away. I don’t mind a few dirty looks, or even a few harsh words. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I will continue to say it!! Even if I say it with a button.





Crisis

19 06 2013

I have been contacted by three different people this past week whose families are in a crisis. What kind of crisis? “Coming out” or the consequences of “coming out” crises. I am thankful for my own journey so that I have something to tell them and to share hope, yet, I can not help but wish things were so different that a kid “coming out” as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender would not create a crisis at all. How did we get to this point as a society?

There were same-sex relationships WAY back in history, in many cultures. How did this happen that we have come to 2013 and people are pitted against each other like vipers depending on which side of the issue you stand on? How did it happen that people with good hearts and loving souls will cut off relationships with friends, family, or even their own child or parent because of their sexuality. When did it become so very wrong to be different? Or is it just that someone is different in a way someone else finds disgusting that bothers people? Then we can ask: “Why do people find homosexuality to be so disgusting anyway?”

I know the answer to that for me. I was told over and over again that it is disgusting. Leaders in my church talked about how gay men had sex with a disgusted look on their face as if they might throw up. I am sitting here in my living room with my 11-year-old singing and dancing on the other side of the room and I am wondering what was wrong with those people anyway? When I was her age, why did an adult at a church even talk to a group of kids about homosexual sex acts? It really does make me wonder who the real pervert was.

Speaking of my 11-year-old, she is appalled that anyone would consider judging someone for who they love. She gets downright irate about it in fact. She knows nothing of judging people for who they are or who they fall in love with. She is around same-sex couples and heterosexual couples frequently and to her they are just “Bob and Jim” or “Bob and Jane”. They are just people. So, I know for a fact that kids are not inherently disgusted by same-sex relationships. I don’t even think she has considered what they are doing in their bedrooms, at least she has never asked about it yet. I don’t really think anyone is concentrating on what their heterosexual friends do in their bedrooms, but somehow if a couple happens to be gay, we have the free reign to think about what happens in their bedroom and feel disgusted? I don’t think so. I have heard it said and I happen to agree, the person thinking about what people are doing behind closed doors really is the one with a problem.

I don’t have the answers to how we got to where we are now. I could speculate and blame a certain religious group, but it wouldn’t change anything anyway, so it doesn’t really matter how we got here. What matters is what are we going to do? Will we begin to fight for the kid who is being bullied and called “Faggot” right now in the hallway at school? Will we begin to fight before it is too late and he kills himself seeing no other answer? Will we speak up and make sure that our LGBT friends and family know that we support them?  You know the answer for myself – yes, I will. Will you? Someone’s life just may depend on it.





Work Meeting Gossip

4 06 2013

I recently found out that a group of former co-workers discussed our family at a business meeting. Inappropriate? yes! More specifically, they discussed the fact that my son is bisexual. One lady even went on to talk about how disgusting it is that he is in ministry with the church. Funny thing – I found this out two weeks after this same lady had asked my husband a very large favor – one of which my husband was willing to do for her, but she had already found someone to do it when he returned her phone call.

You see, we were not just in business with this group of people, they also professed to be our friends. This is where the pain comes in, yet, is it good to know the truth, even if it is painful. An actual friend shared this story with my mom. A friend who has a gay relative and happened to be at the business meeting that night. Want to hear something ironic? One of the people at that meeting that night also has a queer child, but they don’t know it. The kid has shared this secret with me, but not with their family yet. It feels like karma in a way, and that almost makes me want to laugh, yet, it is just too sad to laugh. I know that there will be much pain in that family ahead before healing can take place.

When someone out right judges my kid I tend to go to a place of wanting to compare morality. My son is yet to be in a serious relationship. Yet, two of these women are divorced. Jesus had a whole heck of a lot to say about divorce and not one word about homosexuality. So, that is where my anger takes me – to a place of wanting to shove their own immorality in their face. After a few days or weeks, and some serious prayer, reflection, and just some plain ole deep breaths, I realize that is not the right way to go about this. First of all, they would still walk away believing my son is an immoral, unethical, pervert. They would just be very angry on top of all those beliefs. Secondly, it is not my place to judge them anymore than it is their place to judge my son. I don’t want to be known for judgement. I want to be known for love.

After several weeks, I have come to a place of forgiveness. Although I still feel sad by the betrayal and will not be allowing these people into my life again, I do feel that I have forgiven them. I realize that they really do think they are following God. That also makes me very sad. One day, they will realize that the few Bible verses that they are clinging to about homosexuality are being interpreted wrong and were written about pagan worship rituals and are not talking about committed same-sex couples. When that day comes, we can be acquaintances, but we can never be friends again.

Friends come to you directly when they have a question or a concern, they don’t discuss you in a group of people at a party, a business meeting or any other setting. Friends love you and stand by you, even if they don’t understand what you are going through. I luckily have a lot of real friends, and through this journey they become more precious to me every day.





Short Story

30 05 2013

I was asked to give a short statement about why I believe in equality to Fair is Fair Montana. Here is what I wrote:

Grabbe 3 sepia

“For most of my life, I believed that homosexuality was both a choice and a sin. I was raised in a very conservative church and state in the south. About ten years ago, I began to have a switch in my thinking. I realized that what I had always been taught about homosexuality did not mesh with what I was learning to be true in my relationships with gay friends. My faith is very important to me, so I was still confused about how to rectify the scriptures regarding homosexuality. At that point I began my own research of what the bible really says about homosexuality. I was very surprised to find out what I had been taught and had believed most of my life was not even close to the truth. My faith has grown so much through this journey.
As life usually happens, the rug was swept out from under neath me during this process as my own son told us that he is bisexual. I regret that he didn’t feel comfortable coming out earlier due to my own homophobia. He had to carry that burden alone for many years. I am very grateful to be his Mom and to fight along side him for equality. I have three American children who are all proud Montanans. I believe that all three of my children should have the same rights. That is why I speak up for equality in the great state of Montana which I dearly love.”