I was the parent who prepared for everything. When I found out I was pregnant with my oldest child, the nursery was painted that week and everything was ready to go way before the baby was due. After birth, I made sure to plan activities to keep them engaged, to plan time with friends and I even joined the PTO in elementary school. In Kindergarten, they had their academic path all lined out and I was more than supportive throughout all of it. When my oldest was around eight, I married a wonderful partner that came with 3 children of his own. We became a blended family and my heart grew even more. Then the teenage years came and that was a whirlwind of emotions and new learning experiences and yet for the most part we have survived. We are still close, we still talk and the oldest are almost 17 and 18. I feel as though we have won.
Now, with any of my children they did not have to come out to us, we just knew as it was more of casual conversations along the way. Conversations on how life was going, what they were feeling, what was going on and who they had a crush on. Other than ending up happy and healthy adults, there was never an expectation of anything because to us, love is love and life finds a way. We talk about absolutely everything in this house. It sounds like the perfect story, right?
And yet one day the conversation turned to the hate speech being said at school behind their backs and about their friends, the lack of acceptance from other parents, the scary stories popping up all over the internet. In our state, schools are supposed to have no tolerance for bullying yet my eldest had friends of theirs be told to go kill themselves because they were queer. Whenever my eldest child would wear rainbow anything she was told by other students that they didn’t know the “Lesbo Bus” was there. It felt like it was a constant barrage. My eldest child was asked out by one of their friends, who happens to be the same biological sex. The parents would not accept that this was their child. They told them they were not allowed to date my child. The parents’ plan was to keep their child so busy that they would lose interest. I tried to extend my friendship and let the parents know I was there for any questions or anything they needed. All attempts were shot down without a word as to why, or any acknowledgement of their child’s feelings.
The internet became more of a scary place. News stations were picking up more reports of murdered trans women, couples being beat up in public for holding hands and the stories of people in business who refused to serve the LGBTQ community. Through all of this I became scared. I seemed to be frightened for my children all the time. This was a feeling I was not used to. We have always been fighters in this family, we stand up for what we believe, we show no fear! So when the neighbor down the road put up a Confederate flag a couple of days after we put up our Pride flag I became angry because I was afraid for my children; then I was angry for being scared for them.
Now, I have the best children in the world and they need to know that. My oldest is bisexual and non-binary and identifies with the pronouns they/them. Our next oldest is asexual/panromantic and pansexual and prefers the pronouns she/her. Both of them have hearts of gold and have worked hard in life to have the opportunities that will be afforded to them. They deserve nothing less. Why should I have to be scared for them when they have done nothing wrong and they have worked so hard in life? They are no different than my other children or yours. So I decided I won’t be scared for them. I will stand next to them and help them pave their way in this world (only when needed of course.) They will always know that anything in life is possible. We will continue the fight for equal rights and we will change this world for the better. Above all, they will know I love them and nothing will ever change that.
We have joined different local groups and some not so local. I started with our local PFLAG group and I met a lot of great people there. It was a time to share stories and relate. I wanted to do more, so I joined the HRC (Human Rights Campaign Foundation) and our local OutFront Group (LGBTQ Youth Support group). Being political became very important in having my voice heard. I write letters to our state and federal politicians and use my voice in any and all encounters I can. I will speak up if I hear someone name calling or if I see a disservice happening.
I am affecting change at work. My work has been amazing and we are in the process of creating a program that follows in the footsteps of a Safe Space training that Universities have been offering. I have started conversations with other parents and community members hoping to start a teen LGBTQ+ activity night in our area. We share in the Pride events and we support each other. There seems to be so much to do! It seems like there is never enough time, so it is a good thing I am a parent that prepares for everything. I can prepare for this; I will plan. I will continue moving this movement forward and I will not stop until everyone is equal.
All of that being said, the most important thing I have learned through this journey is to find community and to be involved. You are not alone and do not have to feel alone. We are all voices in this world and your one voice can be powerful when it comes to another person! We will fight together and if you need me in your corner, I will help in anyway possible.