Friday, May 31, 2013

LGBT Pride Month

The Big Girl Chronicles:  LGBT Pride Month

November 2012 I had the privilege to attend a conference focusing on services and support of the LGBTQI2-S community.  The information and personal stories shared by the participants were inspirational and enlightening.  Inspirational in that many of the personal stories shared about the stigma and shame associated with LGBTQI2-S can be likened to so many life experiences and struggles among others who have sought acceptance and equality in society.  Enlightening because I was confronted with my own ignorance.  Yet, there are some unique struggles that are specific to LGBTQI2-S persons.  The month of June has been set aside as the month to create an awareness of the LGBTQI2-S community so as to increase knowledge and understanding of those that share our world.  I’m not speaking for the LGBTQI2-S community, but the following are some thoughts I felt would be useful.

Parent response

The decision a son or daughter makes to expose themselves and engage in gender expression has undoubtedly been a difficult one.  It was likely not one that you would’ve hoped for.  Not many parents would want their son or daughter to further complicate their lives by exposing themselves.  How you respond can make the process easier or potentially destroy any future relationship between the two of you.  For the sake of your son or daughter, set aside your feelings for a time when you can manage your emotions without making the process more difficult and remain in the moment.  If the two of you can engage in healthy dialogue that will foster understanding and communicate feelings constructively, then do that.   But if your form of expression tends to be explosive and possibly hurtful, agree to discuss it further at a time you’re in a rational enough emotional mindset to listen effectively.  You could want to explain that this is equally as difficult for you and make a plan to gradually be introduced into your son or daughter’s inner circle.  Make time to learn about the differences in terms, what’s considered offensive, acceptable and other discussion that will help you become familiar with the LGBTQI2-S community.  If you aren’t already familiar with your son or daughter’s partner, talk with him or her about what would be most helpful in making him or her comfortable and make plans to invite him or her over to make acquaintance.  Please understand that your wishes are irrelevant.  This is a choice your son or daughter has made.  And although your son or daughter more than likely wants you to remain a part of his or her life, emphasizing your disapproval will get you shut out from a very important part of who he or she is. 

Peer response

As I listened to a man share his story about other’s response to his sexual orientation, something he said resounded throughout the room.  He explained, “I don’t want every man I see.”  His statement spoke to the homophobic tendencies of some upon being told that his or her peer is LGBTQI2-S.  There is an unspoken sort of belief that the person is “contagious” or some kind of uncontrollable, sexually morbid maniac, when in fact just as any heterosexual male or female is attracted to a certain kind of person the same is true for one whose sexual orientation is LGBTQI2-S.  The best response could be for you to continue to be yourself and make time to learn about the facts versus succumbing to myths and responding in a way that would cause you to embarrass yourself.  To put a comical spin on it, a comedian is quoted as saying, “If you can’t find a man, you don’t suddenly become more attractive because I’m gay.”  Yet the reality of peer to peer homophobia has frightening ranges.  The risk some take to expose themselves can span with consequences from social exclusion to more severe actions involving hate crimes and violence.  Instead of reacting out of ignorance, try exercising tolerance and focus on something much more worthy of your attention.

Church response

Equally as heart-wrenching were the stories the panelist shared of their experiences among the religious community.  Speakers described the massive responses of hatred that were primarily received from congregations, pastors, Sunday School teachers and others who sat alongside them Sunday upon Sunday sharing lessons of love, forgiveness and the compassion of Christ.  Suddenly, the spoken truth about  sexual orientation nullified all those graces and earned that person a permanent spot on the list of those crowned only with eternal damnation.  Then the question becomes “what can the church to do support the individual without condoning the act?”  First and foremost, you can continue to include and welcome a fellow believer, extending to him or her all those things that your faith professes he or she is a partaker of because of his or her belief and love for the Lord.  An “us against them” approach only widens the divide, creating tension that is both unnecessary and counterproductive.  Learn to manage your emotions while remaining true to what you say you’re about.

For more information about the LGBTQI2-S community, you can visit:

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centers

Do Something Organization for Teens and Social Cause  

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