Chris Sanders (from the Tennessee Equality Project)
Last month being Pride Month, several articles regarding what parents should say when their child comes out to them were published. In general, I think they had really great advice that basically boiled down to this: Don’t be an asshole. And that’s generally good advice for any situation, and something I try to remember every time I see my in-laws. However, as parents, I think we should do a lot better.
So here are some helpful hints for supporting your gay child before they ever come out to you. After all, parenting gay kids does not start when they come out. They’ve been gay since day one, whether you knew it or not.
1. Acknowledge that your child could be gay.
Any child born to any parent or adopted into any family could be gay. Why? Because they are human beings, and some humans are gay. That’s just a fact. And not acknowledging it doesn’t do anyone any favors.
2. Show your child that people being gay is A-OK with you.
Talking to your children is always good. I recommend it. Tell your children you believe in equality for all people. But talking can only do so much. Actions speak more loudly than words. Some examples of actions:
- Take you family to Pride. You don’t have to be gay to participate in Pride events. At Pride, your child can see all different types of families, and your child can see you being an advocate just by showing up.
- Donate to the Trevor Project, HRC, PFLAG or another LGBT organization with your child. Talk to them about why it is important to support organizations that promote equality and the equal treatment of all people.
- Enjoy other LGBT events. Maybe your city has a chorus, a band, or art exhibits that involve the LGBT community. You can educate your kids and give them some culture. Double win!
3. Don’t lie about the people in your child’s life.
If you child has a favorite pair of gay uncles or aunts who live together and love one another, there is no shame in explaining the nature of their relationship to your kids. In my experience, kids get that people love each other. They don’t think it’s weird or wrong, unless they are taught it’s weird and wrong. And you aren’t teaching them about sex. It’s about love. It’s easy to say, “Toby and Sam love each other just like Mommy and Daddy do.” Love is a good thing.
4. Dress up your car in equality.
Due to the multitudes of bumper stickers available, there are thousands of ways to express yourself. It can be as simple as a blue equal symbol, or maybe a sticker that says, “Hate is not a family value.” My car is currently sporting one that says, “I Heart Equality.” It’s an easy way to show where you stand on the issue.
5. Watch your mouth.
Words and expressions like “faggot,” “dyke,” “fairy,” “lesbo,” “that’s so gay,” etc., are harmful. Don’t try to fool yourself by thinking they aren’t. Eliminate hate speech from your vocabulary. It is demeaning, and as a parent, you shouldn’t be OK with demeaning your own child.
6. Speak up.
If people are being homophobic jerks and you say nothing, that sends a definitive message, and not a good one. Open your mouth and call people out on their hate. Is it always comfortable? No. But a gay child needs to see their parents defending them, whether they have come out or not.
7. Let your kid be themselves.
Do you have a son who lives for musical theater and Project Runway? Great. Do you have a daughter who thinks dresses were invented by the devil? Great. Do either of these things mean your kid is gay? Of course not. But by supporting them, you are showing your child that they are perfect and loved just the way they are.
8. Listen to your kids.
If your kid tells you they have a crush on someone of the same gender, let them. Don’t freak out or jump to conclusions or tell them that they can’t have such a crush. Lots of kids who have same-sex crushes aren’t gay, but some of them are. Whatever your child is feeling is real and important. And little-kid crushes are adorable. Enjoy the adorableness. The rest will come in time. (Although it may happen sooner than you think.)
9. Fill in the gaps in your library.
Books like And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell, The Family Book by Todd Parr, andMy Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis and Suzanne DeSimone, just to name a few, can bring diversity into your house in fun and colorful ways that kids love. They can help teach that all different types of people and families are beautiful and worth celebrating.
10. Love your kids.
Loving your kids is the number-one job and responsibility of every parent. We chose to be parents. It’s one of the most wonderful, fabulous, frustrating, and rewarding roles in the world. It is our privilege to be someone’s mom or dad. And it’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
If parents do some of these things, then when a child does come out, hopefully it won’t be with fear and trepidation that you will reject them. It will simply be your child telling you something important about themselves. And if your kid is straight, you’ve taught them great lessons about equality. There’s no harm. After all, our kids our going to be who they are. Nothing you do or say can change that. But as parents, we can affect the way our children see themselves. I want my kids to know they are amazing.
And if your kid does come out to you, remember the advice that nearly always works: Don’t be an asshole.
This article can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Amelia/10-ways-to-support-your-gay-kid_b_3461146.html
[Posted by Ana, Masakhane Intern]
after taking a good, hard, critical look at hrc & what i believe it is doing right or (primarily) wrong, i wanted to spend a little more time & energy researching, supporting & actively involving myself in positive movements & organizations. i want to draw your attention to a few organizations & resources i know of:
obviously not all of these are local to me, but i’m privileged enough to live in a very active city with many organizations, probably many more i have not even heard of, & i am really grateful to have so many resources at my disposal. the thing is, i want the word out there. i want everyone talking about how fucking amazing the audre lorde project is & how immigration equality & the sylvia rivera law project can be best utilized by those who may not know how or where to look for help. i want them to know because we are all shouting it at the top of our lungs, because we are proud of our community & the action that is happening — i want to draw national attention to the great work that is being done around us all of the time. i want to celebrate the strength & passion & commitment this community has to social justice, advocacy & mental/physical/spiritual health & welfare. like…can we take a moment?
I’m not angry or upset about anything in particular at the moment, but I thought I’d take a little time to write something out that had been bugging me about allies. It’s certainly not all-encompassing or totally comprehensive, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about in terms of being a good ally and a good neighbor, especially here on Tumblr.
Before you step in to help us out, I’d just like to clarify a couple things.
You and I, we may have taken the same seminars and maybe even read the same Audre Lorde excerpts or Ronald Takaki books, but know this: we learned very different things in very different ways
For students of color, for gay students, for trans* students, for the children of immigrants and refugees, these classes aren’t always about learning new concepts when it pertains to us. It’s more about learning the names of things we already knew fairly intimately. Do you understand that? You learned it another way. You went in, you got this set of key words and a list of definitions. Your learning was, in all likelihood, “Here is this word. This is what this word means.”
For you, it was “Xenophobia: a strong fear or dislike of people from other countries.”
For us, it was “Xenophobia: the time that boy in my kindergarten class spat on me because I couldn’t speak English yet. Or when I saw that clerk yell at my mom in the grocery store because her English wasn’t clear enough. Or when USCIS had us confirm our American citizenship with the same set of papers seven times over the course of sixteen years because they wanted to confirm that we were, in fact, actual American citizens.”
For you, it was, “Racism: unfair treatment of people who belong to another race; violent behavior towards them.”
For us, it was, “Racism: that one time I saw that manager tell that sales girl to follow my dad around at Kohl’s. Or that one time my neighbor’s kid got shot by the police and they tried to cover it up by convincing everyone he was in a gang because he was Hmong, but we knew he wasn’t. Or that one time my dad told me I shouldn’t rollerblade to the library because I’m not white and it’s not safe for me.”
For you, it was, “Homophobia: a strong dislike or fear of homosexual people.”
For us, it was, “Homophobia: that time in the sixth grade when Ryan shoved me against a glass door and banged my face in it while yelling, ‘faggot!’ at me until the teacher stopped him. Or when my Catholic high school’s president told me that, though he loved me as a child of God, he still believed I was sinful when I suggested that we start a GSA.”
For you, it was: “Classism: prejudice or discrimination based on social class.”
For us, it was: “Classism: that one time when my best friend came over to hang out in high school and her parents didn’t want her to come over again because they didn’t like our neighborhood. Or that one time when my friends had no idea what food stamps looked like and I was too embarrassed to explain what they were.”
So while you were learning that these academically-framed phenomena were real problems, we were just getting little figurative nametags for awful things that we already knew. Your weekly vocabulary list was, to us, just a hollow shadow of our lived experiences.
So my point is this:
If you didn’t live an experience, then step aside. Because we knew this stuff before our professors told us what to call it. We learned it from the bottom up, you learned it from the top down, and that’s not even a metaphor.
When you step out of class, you get to be like, “Oh, awesome. I am learning how to be a good ally and a better human being. This will help me.” For us, it’s more like, “Ah, so that’s what they’re calling it nowadays. When exactly did they say change was going to come for us?”
So in practice, here’s what all this theory looks like: you don’t always have to speak. I mean, certainly, you should totally call someone out on their oppressive bullshit. But if you identify as male, you don’t get to tell people what is best for women as though you have that authority. If you’re white, you shouldn’t be trying to “uplift” people of color by the grace of your intellect or your words. Nobody’s looking to be ‘rescued’ or ‘pulled up from out of their unfortunate circumstances’ as you may be tempted to believe.
All anybody’s looking for in an ally is someone who knows that “empowerment” means taking a step aside in a place where you know you have privilege. And if it is, for example, a PoC-to-PoC conversation, a woman-to-woman conversation, a queer-to-queer conversation, etc. about this stuff, and that isn’t who you are, you don’t need to be chiming in.
Just take our word for it, let us talk, and let us vent. We’d like you to give us room, and if you have to be helpful, then help make room for us by giving up some of your proverbial social girth.
Because the bottom line is that our academia has made a commodity of our lived experiences as teaching moments for you. And if you think your academic knowledge is more valid than our lived experiences, then you’re definitely not part of the solution.
With the projected $50,000 in increased revenue from couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses next year, Joe McDermott, Seattle City Councilor, drafted a last minute amendment that sends all of that money into programs designed to help at risk queer youth. According to The Stranger,
“I wanted there to be a nexus between that money and where it went,” says McDermott, who is the county council’s first openly gay member and who intends to marry his partner. “We know that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in at-risk, homeless, runaway, and sexually trafficked youth populations.”
All nine members of the council’s budget committee passed the amendment this morning—that’s all the Democrats and all the Republican on the council—assuring its adoption into the full budget. It directs $35,000 for at-risk youth programs run by the nonprofit Youth Care and $15,000 for Lambert House.
This is so beyond awesome.