Being the parent of a child that identifies as gay and non-binary, can lead you down a tough road of uncertainty, understanding, and advocacy. There are so many questions and not enough answers to guide you. In the beginning, it felt like an emotional rollercoaster.
First, it was self-blame, embarrassment, and depression that finally transitioned to acceptance and freedom. (If you want more information about that journey, check out my previous post where I go into detail about “Loving the Pride in My Child”).
Instinctively as a confirmed “mama bear,”, I wanted to protect my child from harm in all forms. But we all know that’s not realistic. I knew I couldn’t be with them (pronouns are they/them) every second of the day or night. So, what now? I’ll tell you, it ain’t easy, and only the strong thrive.
I made it my mission to learn how to navigate this new territory while being a fully supportive mother. I surrounded myself with positive and like-minded people. By doing this I felt more at peace and felt empowered as a parent. I was able to voice my emotions without being judged or feeling guilty for having those pesky “what if” thoughts.
I also educated myself by reading books such as “Unconditional: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ Child (Book for Parents of a Gay or Transgender Child)” by Telaina Erikse where I learned how to locate LGBTQ communities which includes churches, how to keep an ongoing conversation with your child, etc. , “Always My Child: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Son or Daughter” “by Kevin Jennings. This book truly resonated with me as it provides sample conversations that I was able to build upon and provided tips for parents. These books are my continued go to whenever I get stuck and don’t know how to help my child in an unfamiliar world.
I also distanced myself from the Bible beaters. You know, the kind of people who love to take scripture and interpret it for their personal gain, whether it be racism, homophobia, greed, etc. What I know without a shadow of a doubt, is that God loves everyone regardless of race, sexuality, and religion.
If you are experiencing the same situation, listen to your child and be an advocate. You can be an advocate by encouraging positive dialogue, learning the facts about gender and/or sexual orientation. Additionally, get involved with your child’s school (if they are school aged), and additionally never hesitate to speak up if you see a problem with your child’s school or community.
Be intentional with unlearning what society dictates as “right”. The only right thing is to love unconditionally without any opinion. It’s not about you or your ego. To shoot it straight, no chaser…get over yourself.
It’s 100% about love, acceptance, and respect. Love and support your child the same way you would want someone to love and support you. The rest will work itself out. Your job as a parent is to be their cheerleader, their safe space, and their idea of unconditional love. I make sure that I am present during conversations with my child and created a high level of comfort where my child can talk about anything without ridicule, preaching or judgement. I have worn many hats from comforter during rough patches, a bouncer for the naysayers, and a personal cheerleader for my child. Although I tend to go overboard a little with the cheerleading. While things may feel difficult and confusing, you got this. Focus on the love and acceptance your child needs.
Below are some helpful links to help with understanding and establishing a healthy conversation with your LGBTQ child.