Last September, I wrote a letter to parents & caregivers who don’t accept their LGBTQ+ children. Today, I’m writing to their children.
As I write, I hold in my heart young people who are facing hardship because their parents don’t accept them. I also hold in my heart those young people who are no longer with us – those who have taken their own lives, or had their lives taken from them because of homophobia and transphobia in their families. Some families are set in their ways, but many overcome confusion and fear because of their love for their children. Please share this letter with anyone who might like to read it.
I don’t know you, but you are dear to me. It breaks my heart that your family does not accept you. I can only imagine what that feels like. You may feel very alone, but you aren’t. There are many people going through the same thing and many people who care.
Please know that whatever you are hearing, whatever hurtful things your family may be doing, there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ+!
If people treat you like something is wrong with you, it’s hard not to believe it. Please know that whatever you are hearing, whatever hurtful things your family may be doing, there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ+! You are beautiful and deserve to be loved and accepted just the way you are.
Maybe people in your family are having a hard time dealing with your LGBTQ+ identity and it’s tough, but bearable. Maybe you don’t feel safe around your family. Or maybe you are homeless or in the foster care system. Whatever the case, I urge you to reach out and get the support you need. Your happiness and safety are important. There are many people, including Gay Straight Alliances and LGBT Centers, there to give you support your family can’t give right now.
Above all, please, please, please try to take good care and avoid hurting yourself. If you have been thinking about suicide, please reach out. There is so much potential for happiness in your life. Please don’t give up!
I also want you to know that you are not the problem! The problem is that our world is filled with negativity towards LGBTQ+ people. This is changing, but it is still widespread. If your parents are down on you because of your identity, it’s because they picked up this negativity from society. They weren’t born homophobic or transphobic. They probably learned these things in their families, the culture they grew up in, or their church.
You probably did some processing to come to terms with your identity. Or maybe you are still figuring it out. Most families need time to process too.
The good news is that homophobia and transphobia can be unlearned. Many families start out rejecting their children and learn to be more accepting over time. You probably did some processing to come to terms with your identity. Or maybe you are still figuring it out. Most families need time to process too. It’s hard not to take it personally if they are stuck in their ways. If they aren’t completely closed off, try not to give up on them. You may also try to offer them some resources to help them see things differently. Many families deal with the same issues and it may help to know that they are not alone.
Believe it or not, your family members may want what is best for you. They probably love you. Their hearts may be shut down because of fear. They may be scared that bad things will happen to you, that you can never by happy, or that your future will be ruined. Hopefully, they will learn that the best way to protect you is to accept you as you are.
The more you take care of yourself, the easier it will be for you to be understanding and compassionate towards your family. I went through my own issues when I noticed that my son was different than other boys. Like me, your family may have a bunch of issues and baggage in their way. They may be feeling a lot of stress due to discrimination and other hardships. They may feel their identity as a parent, as a woman, as a man, or as a family, is threatened.
If your family members are able to open their hearts and minds, maybe they can learn to accept and love you for who you are.
I believe that families can change, because I have seen it happen many times. I am one of those fortunate parents who realized, after some time, that having my child in my life was a wonderful gift. My son helped me be a better person, and opened my eyes to many things. He helped me get clear about what I believe in and gave me the courage to stand up for my beliefs. If your family members are able to open their hearts and minds, maybe they can learn to accept and love you for who your are.
Meantime, take good care of yourself and get the support you need. Whether your family sees it or not, you have so much to offer the world!
With much love!
Laurin (Out Proud Mom of a gay son)
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