When my son Danny was in preschool and decided he wanted to be a princess for Halloween, I didn’t know how much I would change. I grew up in the 1960s in a mixed race family that embraced difference. I marched to end war and racism and to support immigrant rights. Yet, being Danny’s mom, I discovered I had deeply held prejudices about gender.

IMG_1902In the beginning, I wondered if there was something wrong with him. I tolerated his “non-traditional” behavior and hoped he would tone it down in public. I squirmed with discomfort when he ran to get the door in his princess dress. But having a beautiful child, who I loved with all my heart, gave me an amazing gift—an opportunity to confront my own confusion and fears.

Over time, I learned that my son was not the problem. The problem was the pressure I felt to force my child into a “boy box”.

Over time, I learned that my son was not the problem. The problem was the pressure I felt to force my child into a “boy box”. The problem was a society that puts children into gender boxes and treats them as two separate, unequal species throughout their lives. Danny didn’t fit inside the boy box and I eventually learned that this was a beautiful thing.

IMGP1992Danny later came out as gay and I continued to learn. Over the years I not only learned to accept my son, I developed pride in him for being a fabulous human being. I also grew to admire him beyond measure for his courage to be true to himself and pave the way for others with his example. As I began speaking out in support of my son, I went through my own coming out process. At first I feared being labeled a bad mother. Eventually, I learned that part of being a good mother was being brave enough support my son to be who he was. As I came out of the gender box, I became an out proud mom!

I have heard the stories of many other families and become thoroughly convinced of two things. I am convinced that our love for our children has the power to transform us. Every family goes through its own process. Some of us have more biases to unlearn. A few of us are not open to learning. But, many families have shown over and over again an incredible capacity for unlearning old ideas, and embracing our children with unconditional love.

I am also convinced that families and caregivers can play a pivotal role in creating a world where all of our children are embraced. The more we speak out, the more other families will hear our voices and know that they are not alone. The importance of this cannot be understated. A family’s rejection or acceptance of their child can have life or death consequences. When we shift the ways that we parent, our children will be happier and future generations of will grow up thinking and responding differently to diversity.

Imagine that all families and caregivers of all cultures are supportive when they discover the their child is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer (LGBTQ).

I believe that a different future is in the making. Imagine that all families and caregivers of all cultures are supportive when they discover the their child is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer (LGBTQ). Imagine safe, happy and healthy LGBTQ young people who know that their families accept and support them. Imagine harmonious families together in support of their LGBTQ young people without question.

Imagine that all families and caregivers create safe and nurturing environments for all children to be free to be themselves. Children are free to discover their own gender identities. They are free to play with dolls and trucks, and play dress-up and sports. They are encouraged to nurture their interests and follow their passions, whatever those may be.

In this world, there is no need to come out because all gender identities and sexual orientations are accepted without question. There are no labels that carry stigma and families and caregivers are confident that their relatives, friends and neighbors will embrace them and all of their children with love and respect.

Now, welcome back to 2014.

The world I just invited you to imagine isn’t here yet, but there are many glimmers of possibility. There are more and more families of different races, cultures and religions in different parts of the world coming out in support of their LGBTQ loved ones.

These out proud families are letting other families and young people know that they are not alone.

These out proud families are letting other families and young people know that they are not alone. They are breaking the silence in many communities, and touching people’s hearts with their personal stories. With Out Proud Families, I am adding my voice and amplifying the voices of others. I am also providing resources to support other families and caregivers in coming out of the gender box so we can support our children to be free to be who they are.

Please enjoy Out Proud Families and share widely! Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.

Gratitude

My son, Danny Moreno, is a collaborator with me on this venture. He has generously given permission to share his story and photos and has spent many hours giving information, consultation and advice. I am also very grateful to Yvonne Day-Rodriguez of Y. Day Designs and Chino Martinez of Mirabot Technology Cooperative for generously giving their time to create a beautiful website, banner and logo.Thanks also to Sara Mayeno for the beautiful painting!

Upcoming Conference & Workshops

I am thrilled to announce that Danny and I will present three workshops at the March 21 and 22 True Colors Conference at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Danny, who is also a performing artist, will perform during the closing ceremonies. For more information, see the conference website.

About Laurin Mayeno and Out Proud Families.