Safe Harbor for Parents of LGBTQ Kids and Adults Who Deserve Better Parents
I wish I could tell you their real names, or their kids name, and all the details of their stories because that’s where the magic happens. We gather for dinner once a month (now via Zoom) to enjoy each other’s company, and to speak of our joys and sorrows. We who? Several parents of LGBTQ+ kids committed to being allies, and some gay or gender non-conforming adults whose parents don’t yet deserve them. All of us have had a run-in with religious spaces that reject LGBTQ+ people. We’ve found our way to an affirming church, and each other.
We Track Each Other’s Family Dramas
Elaine’s nephew, Ted, is old enough to see his aunt despite his parent’s disapproval. He enjoys having contact with such a cool aunt — an adult in the family to confide in. We celebrate this little thaw in Elaine’s family and hope, with her, for more.
Or we hear from Jean, reporting back on how her conversation with her elderly and non-affirming mother went — that hard conversation where Jean had to say, “You either start trying to use your grandchild’s correct pronouns, or we’re not coming for Christmas next year.” We all agree it’s a difficult conversation, but Jean is brave to have had it. Alex, still smarting from the rejection of transphobic parents, tells Jean how much it means to them — Jean standing up for her child like that.
Knowing Better, We Discover the Joy in Doing Better
Joel and Jasmine are nursing regret wounds over having exposed their kids to homophobic churches, not knowing what toxins their gay son was subjected to. But now that they know better, they get to do better — with their son, married to Andrew, but also with Elaine, who enjoys occasional archery outings with Joel.
Another parent-ally couple, Arista and Colby, send flowers to Alex and Jaz on their meeting-each-other-online anniversary — no one in Alex’s family knows what a wonderful thing it is for her to have found Jaz. But Arista and Colby know, so they send the flowers and feel good doing it.
Most of us were in churches we loved that didn’t deserve some of our loved ones. It makes us sad and angry, often with ourselves. But here, around the living (or Zoom) room with these friends, now that we know better we get to do better for ourselves, for each other.
We’ve all lost dear friends from beloved church communities once we finally face the hard truth that we can no longer worship in places that sanction religious cruelty. We all understand that weird combination of anger toward those who reject us — or, same thing, reject our loved ones — that anger that flares and abates resting right alongside missing their company.
The LGBTQ+ participants realize it might be a long time before their families come around, and they deserve to know some parents who are the allies their kids need. Family is more than the cards we are dealt; it includes some cards we draw from the deck and are now delighted to have in our hand.
A Thousand Small Wonders
One in our little learning laboratory of love is a sibling allies (with her mate) from non-affirming families. They tell us their stories — how they’ve learned to run interference for their gender-fluid sibling … the frustrations they feel, but also their surprising success just recently. How Aunt Esther and Uncle Roy, shaped right up after a stern talking to. One of a thousand small wonders we’ve come to celebrate. It’s hard to challenge family rules like that. You feel guilty doing it, even though you know it’s the right thing to do. All the rest of us know that, meaning we feel it, we’ve been through our own versions of it, so it’s easy to cheer them on.
There’s so much that needs to be celebrated when people spend years in churches or families that harbor fear and condemnation wrapped up in religion where love and kindness were meant to flourish. We all get that, so we’re on constant alert for what needs celebrating.
The joy of it is, none of this is labored. None of it is awkward — though it took some of us time … and Joel’s lasagne and Colby’s venison — to speak of some of the deeper pains. No, it all flows pretty easily now as we make up for lost time with these others we’ve grown to love — our harbor from the howling winds of so much religious hostility causing so much unnecessary suffering. Suffering we’re finding ways to redeem together.