By Clare McFadyen – I am proud to belong to Mama Dragons, a worldwide network of mothers seeking to ensure a world where our LGBTQ children cannot only live safely but also joyfully, openly and with pride. I am a UK Mama, living close to the city of Birmingham, England. This year I will be joining the group ‘Affirmation Europe – LGBTQ Mormons, Families and Friends’ to participate in Birmingham’s Gay Pride, one of the largest held in the UK each year. I am looking forward to marching in the parade alongside others from charitable, corporate, political and religious groups who will be participating to publicly affirm the LGBTQ community.
Whilst I am looking forward to taking part in the Pride parade, I am not participating for the fun factor. I am participating because I know that not all places, communities or organizations in the world are as supportive and affirming as my local city. Participating in a Pride event is one way to figuratively and literally stand with LGBTQ friends and family and make my support visible. I want those who I know and love to have no question about where I stand in my support and affirmation for those who are LGBTQ.
Mama Dragons around the world join with LGBTQ groups and organizations marching in Pride parades within their own communities. I have been inspired by photos shared on social media of fellow Mama Dragons marching side by side with LGBTQ loved ones. I have felt moved by images of Mama Dragons displaying messages of love written on signs they hold high in the air as they march. That same message of love is equally evident in their faces and conveyed powerfully through Mama Dragon hugs (shared with any who may like to receive a Mama Dragon embrace of affirmation and love at “Hugging Stations’ set up at Pride events).
The theme for Birmingham UK’s Pride event for 2019 is ‘Love Out Loud’. I can not help but think this theme has been inspired by the incredible LOVELOUD Music Festival held in Utah the past 2 years which was initiated by the wonderful Dan Reynolds, frontman for the band Imagine Dragons. It warms my heart and gives me great hope to see how love and support shown for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Utah cities in America has a ripple effect across the world to my city in the UK. I am a believer in the power of peaceful examples of standing up and speaking out for the LGBTQ community such as the LOVELOUD festival to bring about positive change in the world.
Mama Dragons is also influencing positive change. I am inspired by Mama Dragons who stand up and speak out in places and to organizations who may not yet be fully affirming of those who are LGBTQ. I have immense respect for (and am in awe of) my fellow Mama Dragons who stand in political arenas – not as politicians but as mothers, advocating with real power and eloquence for laws that will ensure equality for their LGBTQ children. Similarly there are Mama Dragons around the world who meet with leaders of educational institutions and those of their faith communities to increase knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ issues. Mama Dragons are seeking to increase understanding through education to make their communities a better place for their LGBTQ children. Their actions have a ripple effect across the world. Indeed, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Nelson Mandela, declared that:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Likening education to a weapon is a powerful image, and Mama Dragons are indeed powerful when the occasion calls for them to be so. The Mama Dragons logo, a rainbow-coloured dragon, is a symbol of that power – the power and readiness to metaphorically ‘breathe fire’ if need be to protect our children. That fire-breathing power is fueled by love and is capable of warming hearts and inspiring minds. Ultimately the Mama Dragon message is a peaceful one: Love is Love.
Not everyone has the musical talent, contacts and organizational abilities to put on a world-renowned music festival to show support for those who are LGBTQ. Not everyone may feel able to engage politicians in dialogue to challenge laws which discriminate against our LGBTQ children, and to advocate for a society where fairness and equality for all exists. However, all Mama Dragons are helping the group’s mission to support, educate and empower, through a multitude of ways that may be simple yet powerful.
In addition to participating in Pride parades, Mama Dragons show support by sharing posts and comments on social media platforms which affirm and validate those who are LGBTQ. Mama Dragons share an abundance of empathy and understanding for each other. The Mama Dragons Facebook group provides a safe online global community where mothers are able to open up about their stories and experiences while receiving support and understanding. There is a bounty of support, validation, understanding, encouragement and love for us Mamas wherever we may be in the world. The UK/EU Mama Dragons group is relatively small in number. There are currently less than a dozen of us living in the UK and we are quite widely dispersed geographically. However, despite this distance, the Mama Dragons Facebook group brings our hearts and hopes together.
When I join Birmingham UK’s Gay Pride Parade I will be there with Mama Dragon fire burning in my heart! We may be few in number in the UK but I will take courage from Mama Dragons around the world who fiercely love and advocate for their LGBTQ children and who are trying to ensure a world where ALL children can live safely and love openly and joyfully.