People often think that having an LGBTQ+ child makes life difficult for parents. I wrote this post to offer a different perspective. Having a gender-creative little boy who is now an out proud gay man has made my life better in many ways. I reached out to find out if other parents feel the same way, and many do. Twelve parents from a range of cultural backgrounds and countries told me via Facebook, email, phone, and in-person about ways their LGBTQ children have made their lives better. Our love for our children has opened our hearts and minds, deepened our experience of love, fulfilled us as parents, given us strength and courage, strengthened our connections to family and community, changed our view of what is possible, and inspired us to activism. The perspectives of these parents can change how people think about having LGBTQ children. Note: some parents chose to use first names only or pseudonyms.
Having LGBTQ children has opened our hearts and minds.
“Instead of the thousands of rules that I lived by, it got down to one – my love for my child and my family. Everything transformed from there. We are all afraid of change some times. More than change, it was transformation. I transformed into new thoughts, beliefs and understanding.” Andrea
Isabel: “My thinking has changed radically in terms of gender. Although I was never raised as super-girly with pink, I learned from society how a girl/woman or a boy/man “should” be. Thanks to my trans daughter, my outlook and understanding of what a person can be is not limited to gender and much less to a binary model of gender. I have also become much more tolerant of any difference between us people, not only where gender identity is concerned. I have definitely grown as a person.”
Mirna Medina: “Having a bisexual son has been a liberating process for me. He helped me understand that bisexual people are not confused – being bisexual is about the capacity to love, regardless of a person’s sex. I used to have some judgments about transgender people. I learned about the marginalization they experience and realized how much courage it takes to be who they are. This allowed me to develop empathy and compassion.”
Diana A.: “I’ve learned that who we are going to end up with and who we’re going to love, it doesn’t matter. He showed my family that being gay doesn’t mean fitting the stereotypes.”
Andrea (mother of a transgender daughter): “The human connections that happen when you have to deeply connect with your child to figure out what is happening… It was so different than things I had learned previously… I had to question myself in order to understand my child…Observing my child, hugging my child, helped me overcome all of that fear. I began to understand the world in a different way. One day Joel (from Gender Spectrum) was explaining how gender was a social construction….I began to understand that it isn’t just gender. We live in a social construction that is built by others. Seeing this social construction began to make sense for me, began to transform my entire life, the way I live, the decisions I made, the expectations I was raised with and began to put on my children. It brought about a larger opportunity to understand and see the world…Instead of the thousands of rules that I lived by, it got down to one – my love for my child and my family. Everything transformed from there. We are all afraid of change some times. More than change, it was transformation. I transformed into new thoughts, beliefs and understanding.”
Having LGBTQ children has deepened our experience of love.
“My (transgender) son has given me an opportunity to see love in a whole different way and at a level that I probably would never have experienced.” Marsha Aizumi
Le (mother of transgender son): “If you have unconditional love for your children, you will be there to protect them and accept them. It doesn’t matter if they are straight or LGBT. Unconditional love is from the heart. You can’t learn!!! You bond to your child the day they are born.”
Hazel Sarah Batilides: “My son came out to me 2 years ago aged 15…He tried to commit suicide Feb of 2014. I’m a single mom and have had a massive change of heart in how I do things with, and for him. I’ve always loved and supported him but take him, and I, far more seriously. He’s good now and we’re happier and closer than ever. His coming out to me served to strengthen our relationship – we are open and honest with one another and it is deeply satisfying. I was not sure how I would cope at first, having to deal with a gay child, but he has allowed me to grow and learn with him and from him.”
Marsha Aizumi: “My (transgender) son has given me an opportunity to see love in a whole different way and at a level that I probably would never have experienced. Our journey has, is and will continue to be amazing despite the shame, sadness and fear I felt in the beginning. I am so grateful for Aiden, because he has made me the mother, wife and human being I am today.”
Having LGBTQ children has fulfilled us as parents.
He lives a true life, an impassioned life, a life with purpose; and I get to be a part of it!” Hazel Sarah Batilides
Crystal: “I’m also overwhelmed with pride that Evan is confident and so sure in him self that he can be quite openly gay at the age he is. He’s just like any other teenage boy but has had to fight a little harder and have thick skin just to be accepted for who he is!”
Jenny: “My son was three when he asked to be taken back to the doctor and turned back into a boy, like when he was a baby. After two years of this talk it could no longer be dismissed, so with much hard work and tons of support from our sexual heath services in our small state (Tasmania, Australia) we began “the change”…I’m so proud to see the child I birthed fulfill his rightful place in the world. As a 17 year-old my son excels at school, is one of the most empathetic people you could ever meet, is loved by many, and has a wonderful social group…Never have I felt sad or grieved for the daughter is “lost”. But I have felt such immense joy to see him live a very ordinary but totally fulfilling male life – the life he was born to have.
Hazel Sarah Batilides: “He delights me. I often say, yes, my son I gay, but he is so much more than that; he is son, brother, nephew, grandchild, straight A student, and potential star – who happens to be gay… He contacted many theatres in Johannesburg with a view to volunteer backstage, as his passion is for musical theatre. He was turned down by them all. He then found a gay restaurant that puts on drag shows and wrote them. They snatched him up and he assists with costume changes backstage. I go every week with him (who’d want to miss all that action?!). We have a blast every Friday night and have met amazing people since! The point is this; had Alexi still been in the closet we would both have been missing out on these wonderful times together. He trusted me enough, was brave enough to come out and we are enjoying this journey together…By lifting the lid on his status, he has truly allowed the sunshine into our lives. He lives a true life, an impassioned life, a life with purpose; and I get to be a part of it!”
Having LGBTQ children has given us strength and courage.
“Once I cleared up my own confusion, I was able to speak out proudly and challenge negative comments in the community.” Mirna Medina
Aya Yabe: As a teacher at a Japanese weekend school, I sometimes hear students make misguided conclusions about gays and lesbians. When I tell them about my daughter, they become interested in learning about LGBTQ.
Mirna Medina: “Once I cleared up my own confusion, I was able to speak out proudly and challenge negative comments in the community.”
Le: “Don’t care what other people think or says about your children. Just raise them the way you want them to be a good, responsible person. Your love is very important to your children. Family is where kids learn for their life.”
Youngjoo: “I always have been supportive of the LGBT community, but it is very personal since I found out about my son being gay. I am more aware of the issues, found new friends and feel stronger.”
Harold Kameya: “I have moved from being a very introverted person to one now in the middle (or am I now a bit obnoxious re: my thoughts on religious fundamentalists?) I have now overcome the fear of speaking to groups. As a person who stutters, I have overcome the embarrassment of stuttering.”
Having LGBTQ children has strengthened our connections to family and community.
When they (my daughter and her fiancée) invite me for dinner with their friends, usually I am the only straight person, which gives me a reality check in terms of what we are taught to believe as “normal” is just another take on true reality.” Aya Yabe
Diana A: “I came from a very tight Mexican family. There are five generations in my family… We were the outcasts because we grew up in a white community. Having a gay child has brought my family closer together….I have an aunt who is gay who just got married. My family never said anything, never criticized. I told my son ‘I don’t want you to ever feel you have to hide anything’ and my family feels the same way. My ex-husband’s father was horrible when a cousin that came out. With my son, he’s a totally different person. My brother in law was a little old school too, but he has come around. I’m so glad that that’s the reaction I got from them.”
Harold Kameya: “We have met a slew of wonderful people I would not have met otherwise, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer and questioning, parents and straight allies! We are able to relate to our gay child on a much deeper level, as well as to our non-gay children. I really hate to think of how boring our lives would be had one of our children not been gay.”
Marsha Aizumi: “I have a greater connection to my whole family because I have a transgender son. My life is so much richer with more open and honest friendships, and I have friends from so many places in the US and the world because of my son.”
Aya Yabe: “I have met wonderful parents and allies through various LGBTQ organizations including PFLAG in NY and Japan. Thanks to my daughter, I have more friends now! In addition, I really enjoy discussing social issues with Miki and her fiancée Dyanna (very active in her school’s LGBTQ group). When they invite me for dinner with their friends, usually I am the only straight person, which gives me a reality check in terms of what we are taught to believe as “normal” is just another take on true reality.”
Isabel: “My life has certainly changed for the better…Thanks to my daughter, we found that some friendships and relationships never were what we thought they were. This resulted in relationships with new people who have such rich stories that all they do is strengthen you as a parent.”
Andrea: “Since my child transitioned, the simple word of love is so different for me. I have been able to embrace different people’s lives. Almost every human being is living a parallel world from the others. And I think I couldn’t step into those worlds if it wasn’t what I had learned from my child.… I also learned a lesson of love and forgiveness. It is hard to have expectations of family members and friends who aren’t ready to accept what we are going through. If we give time after bringing information or love to the people around, it helps us and them to transform. I love these people and have welcomed back a lot of people in my life who I felt deeply hurt by, because of what I learned in the process.”
Having LGBTQ children has changed our view of what is possible.
Everything I see or do has endless possibilities. No boundaries exist. How can you not feel privileged to be part of that journey? I’m the most privileged mum in the world.” Jenny
Crystal: I would say though that people seem to spend far to much time concentrating on one aspect of a whole person and, yes, being gay is a big part or him. But I would love to live a world where it just didn’t matter and people were just people, kids trying to make their way into adulthood with no fear of rejection.
Jenny: “I have four wonderful children. They are all special in their own way and this journey that we have been on has opened my eyes and shown me life exists and thrives out side of “normal.” This statement opened the world to me in every way. Everything I see or do has endless possibilities. No boundaries exist. How can you not feel privileged to be part of that journey? I’m the most privileged mum in the world.”
Having LGBTQ children has inspired us to activism.
“We have had the opportunity to make change in our family, society and country (Mexico) by the merely sharing our story and that gives us a positive feeling of being able to help others.” Isabel
Aya Yabe: “I have been an ally since I was in college way way back in Japan. But I was not very active in supporting the LGBTQ community until my daughter Miki who is lesbian encouraged me to get involved more in activism.”
Jenny: “I’m now a 3rd year bachelors of education student who passionately wants to work with GLBTI kids in a school setting. I never saw that one coming 17 years ago lol.”
Isabel: “We have had the opportunity to make change in our family, society and country (Mexico) by the merely sharing our story and that gives us a positive feeling of being able to help others.”
Youngjoo: “Since I found about my son, I tell my friends to support LGBT issues and I even came out publicly on a home page for Korean grassroots group in Korean, which was a surprise to many of my friends.”
A final note: Thanks so much to the parents who shared their experiences and their children and families. Their words resonate deeply for me and give me hope for the future. They helped me see that our journey as parents with LGBTQ children can be a process that defines us. Our children help us see who we really are. I wish I had read a piece like this when my son was growing up. Please share widely so that others may benefit.
See my Proud Mom videos here.
See videos and other resources featuring mixed-race families and families of color here.
See video of moms and sister from El Salvador here.