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.



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.

Accidental Activism

24 02 2013

I recently read a Facebook post from a friend. She was stating her surprise and also expressing her thanks to her high school friends for supporting her PFLAG work and her work to advance equality for her son and her gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends. I couldn’t help but have a sinking feeling when I read it. Not that I am not totally happy for my friend to have been shown such amazing support – because I am. I just feel sad that my experience has been so different. I can count on my fingers the number of friends from my hometown who have shown any support. Heck – you probably know who you are if you are even actually reading this right now.

People say: “don’t take it personally”. I try not to, I really really do, but then I look into the face of my son or any number of my friends whom I love so much and it IS suddenly personal. These are persons – persons that I love. People who are very important to me. Do you think I ever intended to be an activist of any sort? Let me just make this clear – NO! I did not have a burning desire in me to stand up, be laughed at, told I was being misled by satan and shunned by friends and some family. I wasn’t just waiting my whole life for the right cause to come along so that I could become an activist.

I stumbled blindly into this, and often have no idea how I got here or how to be a proper activist and spokesperson. I only know this, my love for my child was so strong that I had to find out the truth about homosexuality and the bible. I HAD to know if what I had been taught most of my life about it being a choice and a sin was true. That is how my journey began, it had nothing to do with the rest of the world. I had a conflict within myself, a conflict between what I had been taught and told and what I myself was finding to be true within my own experiences with my son. I knew my son was not a pervert or a misled sexually driven individual. Let’s just be blunt here, isnt’ that what is disgusting to us straight people? What they are doing in the bedroom? Yet my son had never even had a date when he came out – so I knew this wasn’t sexually driven. So, my activism days began around myself seeking truth. And just as truth often does – it was right there, in the open, I just had been looking in the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices.

So, even though at this point, I am sad that I have not had a lot of people I thought loved and cared for me rally behind me as I take a stand for equality, it certainly isn’t going to sway me or cause me to hang my head. You see, once you find the truth, you can’t go back to having your head in the sand. Why would I want to? The truth affords me freedom. Freedom to love and be loved in a way I have never experienced before. Maybe because they know exactly how it feels to not be accepted, I find my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and family to be the most loving, non judgemental folks that I have ever had the privilege of being around. Not, only that, they are FUN!!

So, whether you approve or not, whether you like me or not doesn’t sway me. I stand up because of love. I will never sit down and I will never shut up. And one day, when the truth finally seeps into that hole that you have your head stuck in, you will find this freedom also. You will wonder why it took you so long, just as I do, and you will experience some of the best friendships a person can have. I wish that for you…soon.

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!

PFLAG Journey to date…

18 10 2012

Last night was our October PFLAG Support Meeting. It was the largest meeting to date – the room was literally overflowing! PFLAG meetings are confidential – so I can not share all the beautifulness that happened in that room, but I can share a bit about how we got to this point.

I had never heard of PFLAG prior to my son coming out. We didn’t even have a chapter in our town. Well, there had been one several years before but it had slowly faded away. I just somehow knew I wanted to start another one. I wanted parents who were like me, trying to learn the best ways to support and accept their kids, to have a good place to go and be honest about their journey.

It has become so much more than that!! Last night we had Grandmas, and even an Uncle. We had straight allies, all of the letters were represented – LGBT and even Q. There was even an Uncle there!! What a lovely diverse group of people!!! OH- and the stories!!

There are young adults in our group who came as scared teens a few years back. Kids who had not come out at home and came month after month scared of what would happen when they did come out. Now, young adults – confident in who they are and oh such beautiful people!! It is amazing to watch people transition! Even me – who used to snivel and cry through every meeting – now I only cry occasionally! And usually it is happy tears!!

I would highly encourage you to find a PFLAG Chapter near you. Find a PFLAG Chapter – Maybe you feel that you don’t need any support at this point in your journey? Trust me – PFLAG needs your story. Parents struggling with their child’s sexuality need to see happy healthy LGBT individuals! LGBT individuals who are not accepted by their families always appreciate a hug from a substitute parent. LGBT individuals who are still trying to find their place in this world need to see your confidence and your assurance that they will get through the tough times and life will eventually feel much better.

Sometimes we overlook the most important people at PFLAG – our Allies! If equality is going to happen in our world – if one day people will not need to feel ashamed of their own or their family member’s sexuality – we can’t do it alone. It will take a whole LOT of straight people – standing along beside us and walking with us in this fight.

PFLAG is for everyone – and even though it will probably feel uncomfortable at first – it will actually be one of the greatest journey’s you have ever taken! I promise…

I Need More Buttons!!!

17 10 2012

I Love Buttons!!! I didn’t always I suppose… but I rarely leave the house without one now.

This is the button I wear 90% of the time!

This is the button I wear 90% of the time now: “Christian + Gay = OK”

I wear one similar to this when I am feeling a bit sarcastic and goofy:

And when I am missing my kid or just want to make a more personal statement I wear this one:

I rarely wear all three of them at once – but one day we were heading to an equality rally and I had them all on. My daughter exclaimed, “I don’t know if you have enough buttons, Mom!” Well, now I know I don’t after seeing this PFLAG mom – I NEED MORE BUTTONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And some more T-shirts as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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