For many parents, hearing that your child is gay can ignite many emotions. Maybe you’re surprised because it was something you didn’t expect. Maybe you’re concerned because you feel they’ll be judged or criticized. Maybe you’re upset because their lifestyle doesn’t fit into what you’d originally planned for them.
As the parent of a gay child, here’s what I’ve learned. When your child feels safe enough to share their identity with you, it’s a golden opportunity to let them know how loved and accepted they are. My own daughter struggled for years without our awareness, believing she was risking our love and support if she told us who she truly was. As a result, she chose some unhealthy habits to numb and distract herself from the pain of believing she’d risk the love of those closest to her.
When she finally felt safe enough, she slowly “tested the waters” by sharing her truth with my oldest son who is her best friend. After that, she shared it with us, then my younger two children who burst into tears when she shared her news. For a moment she was horrified, feeling the pain of disapproval from her siblings until they both let her know that they were crying because they would have loved to be there for her to talk to and to support her in any way they could.
This acceptance led her to shed 60 pounds gained through stuffing the desire to be herself. It led to a book: Coming Out Happy: Life Doesn’t Have to Suck. It led to her becoming a certified life coach for guys and girls 25 and under who are struggling with their self esteem and identity as she gently guides others to be true to themselves. It also led to an enormous sense of pride which she loving shares in a fun, loving music video to all those struggling to accept themselves.
Feeling safe, comfortable and accepted shouldn’t be something to hope for. It should be as natural as breathing and it’s wonderful that Pride month gives everyone who may struggle with acceptance an opportunity to recognize how loved and appreciated they are for just being themselves.