In honor of Mother’s Day, today’s post celebrates all moms who speak out in support of their gender creative and LGBTQ children. The four inspiring mothers of color highlighted here understand the central responsibility of parenting – unconditional love. They have navigated the challenges and joys of raising children of color as they step outside of gender boxes to express themselves and explore their identities. Each of these mothers has a profound respect for their children and the gifts that they have brought to their lives.
I am an African American mother of two. I was raised in Oakland, California. My daughter Jill identifies as queer. LGBTQ awareness is integral to the work we do providing cultural humility training through our company, The Griot. I also spend a lot of time with family and friends, debunking myths, being vigilant about stereotypes, and supporting my daughter.
I want it out there that not all African Americans are homophobic. I have a support system of African American mothers with queer children. Once I started talking to people in the community, I found out that there are more families like mine.
I was a single parent at the age of 21, and Jill and I were very close. She always forced me to be authentic, because she was so authentic. There was no room for putting on airs. She was so expressive and special and I couldn’t allow that to be shut down. We affirm each other in our unit. I am blessed to have Jill, because without her, I wouldn’t be as aware. My son Chris also stands up when he hears negative comments about gay people. He never had any doubt about supporting his sister.
When we lived in Alabama, it wasn’t safe to be out. Jill was closeted throughout high school. When we moved back to California and she could be herself, I was so happy. I told everybody at work “My daughter is gay.” In 2008, a gay coworker was getting married. Though we had been giving showers to everyone else who got married, a supervisor said, “We won’t do this. It might offend some people.” I spoke out against this discriminatory practice.
I was born and raised in El Salvador. My son, Jesus Alfredo, identifies as bisexual. I co-founded Somos Familia, a community group that promotes acceptance and support for LGBTQ youth in Latino families and communities through support and education.
Seeing my son express himself with such dignity and self-respect motivated me to come out in support of him. He is very intelligent, healthy, sensible, and has strong values. Why wouldn’t I support a human being like this? It’s natural and I wouldn’t discriminate against him for his orientation. This is what made me become an unconditional ally to him.
I believe that respect, acceptance and celebration of diversity are what makes it possible to live in a community in peace, without violence.
Mothers and fathers need to take a firm position. When other families see us supporting our children, it helps them support their children too.
A moment I am very proud of is the first time I spoke publicly in support of LGBT youth with Susana, another mom in our group. We spoke in a Catholic Church service during Holy Week to about 500 Spanish-speaking members of the congregation. I felt a mix of emotions. I was afraid of being negatively judged. At the same time I was very sure, deep inside, that what I was doing was right. I was in a house of God, and remembered that God cares for everyone, and that God is love. My love of justice helped me get over my nerves and speak from the heart.
Patricia St. Onge
I am French-Canadian and Haudenosaune. I grew up in New England and moved to California in 1987 with my family. My children’s father is African-American. My first-born, Cole coined the term “masculine of center,” which invites us to explore gender as a spectrum, rather than a polarity. Cole worked with me in my consulting practice, Seven Generations. It was an extension of a closeness we’ve had since she was born. Cole then went on to found Brown Boi Project and Brioxy.
From very young, Cole had particular charisma; people were drawn to her. As Cole went through the process of surfacing her sexual identity and gender identity, it felt healthy and life affirming. My job was just to love her and be her mom through her process. This is true with each of our children. My partner of twenty years, Wilson Riles, and I love them so much and feel honored to be a witness to their process of becoming whoever they are.
If everybody just loved their kids wholeheartedly for who they are, that’s revolutionary in itself. That’s what we’re striving for.
I was proud to support Cole and her wife Aisha when they made a commitment to go to City Hall before it was legal to be married. Aisha’s mom and I went with them; it was beautiful to watch them make both a political and personal statement about their commitment. Supporting all of our kids to love who they love is important to us.
I’m grateful that both of our kids who are gender non-conforming are out and are living with integrity with themselves, That feels really important to me.
I am biracial – African American and Caucasian. I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I wrote My Princess Boy, which is a nonfiction book about my younger son Dyson, who likes the color pink, sparkly things and dressing up as a princess. My mission is to provide people tools that foster conversations about acceptance.
Raising a strong black man is a tall order. Part of my responsibility as a mom is to raise my boys to be who they are. However, it took me awhile to accept my younger son’s interests and expressions. My turning point was during Halloween shopping. My older son found a ninja costume and my younger son found a blue princess dress. I called my husband who helped me understand that we should support both of our kids in their passions. But I hesitated. Finally my older son said “Mom, why can’t you just let him be happy?” That was a pivotal moment. I realized I was the one with the problem. I didn’t want anyone else to crush his spirit so I turned to my journal entries and wrote what is now the My Princess Boy book.
After the book took off, readers helped me realize that this was so much more than just about a boy in dress up. It was about how we all, at some point in our lives, struggle to be accepted for who we are.
Conversations change society, and the more we have them about accepting differences, the better off our children and our children’s children will be.