I want families to know that being Out and Proud not only makes a difference for our children, it can also transform our lives.
When I first came out in support of my gender-creative son, it was to stop the name calling and teasing in elementary school. Years later, being the Out Proud Mom of a gay son has made me a happier, more confident, braver person. I want families to know that being Out and Proud not only makes a difference for our children, it can also transform our lives. Connecting with others, letting go of ideas that don’t serve us, sharing our stories, and loving our children unconditionally can be rewarding and empowering. Being an Out Proud Mom has made my heart sing and made me feel more fully alive. Here are seven ways my life has changed:
1. I see the world differently. As an Out Proud Mom, I have learned different ways of thinking about gender and sexual orientation. I now see that the problem isn’t boys who wear dresses, women who love women, or people whose gender identity doesn’t match their assigned sex. It has become clear to me that the problem lies in our system of gender, which dictates how we are all supposed to live, what we can and can’t do, and how we express ourselves. This has given me a deeper appreciation of people who stretch outside of gender boxes. I realize that LGBTQ and gender-creative people, by virtue of being themselves, challenge the gender boxes that restrict our lives and give us all more freedom to be who we are.
2. I see my family in a completely new light. When I first spoke out in the late 90’s, I wasn’t an Out Proud Mom. I was an angry, scared, embarrassed mom. I imagined the other parents feeling sorry for me, a single mom, relieved that their children weren’t like mine. I was stuck in a way of thinking that was hurtful to both my son and myself: the idea that something was wrong with my son, which also meant that I was a bad mother. Now, I am clear that not fitting into gender boxes, like not fitting into race boxes, can be a good thing. I am 100% proud of who my son is and of myself as a mother. It doesn’t bother me if people call me a bad mother, because I am clear about what being a good mother means to me. I no longer see my son and myself as mixed-race, gender-bending, misfits who don’t belong. I see us part of a world that is coming into being, where everyone fits in and is fully embraced for who they are.
When I made a choice between supporting my son and fitting in, I made a choice to be more authentically me.
3. I am more comfortable with who I am. Being Out and Proud as a mom has helped me heal from the wounds of society’s judgment and stigma. It has helped me clear out negative thinking that leads to self-doubt, not only as a mother, but also as a woman and a human being. When I made a choice between supporting my son and fitting in, I made a choice to be more authentically me. I am much less concerned about living life to fit in or meet expectations. I feel less pressure to fit into gender expectations and be the good girl I grew up thinking I had to be. I believe that being Out and Proud of any child who is different can be liberating because it helps us overcome the fear and confusion caused by myths and stigma in our society.
4. I have more courage to speak my truth. Because I am more confident, it is easier for me to say what’s on my mind, even if people may disagree or judge me. I have spoken out in many settings about being the mom of a gay son. The courage I have gained extends to other arenas of my life, whether it be speaking up about my own needs or about issues that are important to me, such as racial justice. When I become fearful, I remember that I am not alone. I remember the courage of people who risk their lives every day. I remember my son’s courage to be himself in the face of a world that tried to change him, and I know that I can be courageous too.
5. I am closer to my son and his community. My son means the world to me so does having a good relationship with him. Even though he lives 2,500 miles away, I feel closer to him now than ever. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, he called me and we shared a moment together letting the news sink in. We celebrated Pride bi-coastally, him marching in NYC, while I marched in SF. Being an Out Proud Mom has helped me leave behind my prejudices and fully embrace my son for who he is. He has given me a window into his life by sharing childhood memories with me about growing up as a gender-creative gay child. He has given me much encouragement, feedback, and support in my writing and videos and has teamed up with me to present mother/son workshops. He is proud of me and likes to introduce me, and my work, to his friends and musical community.
I am connected to many brave people who have come before us and to many more who are active today, sometimes risking their lives to be themselves and speak their truths.
6. I am connected to a beautiful and loving community of people. When I first came out in support of my son, I felt very alone. I no longer feel that way, because I am part of an entire movement of people that are making the world a better place. Many more families are speaking out now than ever, including many families of color. I have met many inspiring, brave, brilliant, loving people from many parts of the country and world. I have formed bonds with families and LGBTQ people from communities of color. I know I belong because there are many people who have overcome the same confusion, fear and shame that I have felt. I am connected to many brave people who have come before us and to many more who are active today, sometimes risking their lives to be themselves and speak their truths. It is these countless people who make it possible for my son to be an out proud gay man and for me to be an Out Proud Mom.
I believe that every person has a story to tell and every story makes a difference. What is your story?
7. I know that I am making a difference. Every time a family speaks out with unconditional love for their child, they are making a difference. Seeing an Out Proud Mom gives hope to LGBTQ+ young people and adults whose parents aren’t supportive. My story lets parents and other family members with LGBTQ loved ones know that they aren’t alone. I make a difference for anyone who sees themselves reflected in my story. I believe that every person has a story to tell and every story makes a difference. What is your story?
I would love to see comments from others who are Out and Proud. How does being Out and Proud make your heart sing?
*I use LGBTQ+ to be inclusive of many identities beyond Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer.
See my Proud Mom videos.
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