Parents annoy me -- annoy and frustrate me. I know that's an odd statement considering that I am a parent. (And yes, I annoy myself sometimes.) We parents need to do a lot better.
For the past couple of months, I have been answering some questions for The Parents Project, an organization that lets parents of LGBT kids ask questions and get answers. It's a great idea, and I feel honored that they think I might have something wise and helpful to say. A little while ago I was given this question:
My daughter recently told me that she is bisexual, but she hasn't told her father. She is concerned that he will have a poor response, and to be totally honest I am also concerned. I don't want to keep this from him, and I certainly don't want her to have to keep it a secret in our home, but I am not at all sure how to handle the situation. Do you have any advice?
I thought about this question for a few days, but in the end I gave up. Every response I could think of wasn't the least bit wise or helpful -- things like:
"Why did you marry this man with whom you do not share core beliefs?"
"Why did you marry a man you knew might not love and support your children?"
"Why haven't you divorced this guy already?"
See? Not helpful. And it's because I cannot fathom being married to and choosing to procreate with someone I know might not love my children. That's just ridiculous. Why would anyone do that?
Before, I have likened being gay to being left-handed. Anyone can have a left-handed kid. It's something that is different from the majority of people, but it doesn't make it wrong. It doesn't have anything do with what kind of person someone is. It's just an another attribute that makes up who they are. Once upon a time, people thought being left-handed was an awful, horrible thing to be. Kids were punished for being left-handed and were often swatted by nuns, if the stories my father tells are true. But these days nobody cares. We got over our collective selves and let the left-handers be.
Left-handed and LGBT people make up about the same percentage of the overall population. We would be horrified to meet someone who says, "I love you, and I want to have children with you, but if they are left-handed, I will not love and care about them and will drive them from our lives." That doesn't make any sense. Why would you create a family with that person? And it makes just as little sense to hate a gay kid, or marry someone who is going to hate your gay kid. We don't pick who our children are going to be. When we choose to be parents, we are taking on the responsibility, obligation and honor to love the children we adopt or create. If someone is not prepared to cherish and celebrate a gay child, they have no business being a parent. Our kids didn't choose to be created, and they didn't choose us to be their parents. And every child deserves their parent's unconditional love. Every child.
It would be so much better if all the LGBT kids were born to parents who believe that being LGBT is not wrong, a sin, or a choice. But it doesn't work that way. I'm sure most of us have seen or heard about the video shared by Daniel Ashley Pierce, whose parents' reaction to his orientation was filled with violence and hatred, despite the fact that his stepmother professes to "love" him. I wonder if she even knows what the word means. And anyone who thinks such a reaction is rare is fooling themselves. LGBT kids are rejected by their families every day. It's a big problem. Some 40 percent of homeless teenagers are LGBT. That doesn't happen by accident.
But I have watched other videos, supposedly "good" coming-out videos, that annoy and frustrate me as well. They show teenagers and young adults who are scared and nervous about coming out to their parents. And then sometimes the parents proceed to tell their child how much their orientation worries them, how much harder their child's life will be because of it. Just stop. If your kid is a teenager or a young adult, they know just how hard it is to be LGBT in today's society. They live it every day. They have been living it for years.
But then I wonder if these parents, the ones who want to be supportive, just don't know what to say. Maybe they need a script. If that's the case, here's an easy one:
Kid: "Mom, Dad, I'm gay."
Parent: "I love you. You are going to have a wonderful life. I am so lucky to have you for a kid."
It really can be just that simple.
So if you are thinking about creating a family with someone, stop and think. Ask yourself, "Will this person love the children we create?" If the answer is "Maybe not," then perhaps it is time to take a big step back and do some real thinking.
And to all those kids born to parents who choose to put religion or right-wing morals ahead of loving their kids, I would be so proud to be your mama. Your parents don't deserve you. Keep yourself whole. Keep yourself safe. Find those who love every part of you. And I hope that one day your parents can recognize the colossal mistake they are making. You are worth so much more than this.