Today sons and daughters will come out to their parents. For the very first time they’ll tell their moms and dad about feelings they’ve most likely had for a long time.
Tomorrow the same thing will happen. And the day after that.
Families looking forward to hearing about their child’s first day of school today will be the family that someday listens to the same child say, “I’m transgender.”
It may be a month or a year or ten years, but your family may be the family who is faced with responding to a child coming out to you.
Will you know what to say? How to respond?
Will love be the first emotion you convey?
Thankfully more and more young parents are aware of the fact that they may be raising an LGBTQ child. These parents realize everything they say now, even at the earliest stages of their children’s lives, will impact how the child feels about himself/herself. How they respond to any mention of sexual orientation, whether it’s in conversation or watching LGBTQ characters in a television show, will influence their children’s attitudes. Most importantly, they’re creating an environment in which their children may or may not feel safe to come to them freely and open up about their sexuality.
That’s why it’s so important to keep these conversations going.
To help parents learn how to respond down the road.
By creating a safe environment for their children now.
A few weeks ago I saw a comment in response to a post on social media that was most disturbing. The person commenting was bothered by any mention of the LGBTQ community. The person insisted that there was too much conversation about LGBTQ issues, and that in Christian circles especially, there shouldn’t be such talk. Talking about something just makes it that much bigger, so this person believed.
There’s truth to that. Talking about something creates more awareness and has the potential to deepen our understanding. And with this conversation, that’s precisely what’s needed. More conversation is desperately needed, because in many Christian circles there is still such hesitance, such fear, such embarrassment, that we are loath to talk. We need to talk about sexuality even more because one of those families who hasn’t even contemplated the possibility that they may be raising an LGBTQ child is going to be faced with this question today.
This afternoon while you’re driving her home from school.
Tonight, after supper.
Or at bedtime, when he comes to sit on the edge of your bed to talk.
And I can’t bear the thought that you wouldn’t immediately hug her. Hold him. Put your hands on her face, just like my mother did with me, and tell her that there’s nothing she could ever say or do or think or feel that would cause you not to love her. Sit and listen for as long as he wants to talk. Ask him to tell you what life has been like for him.
We must have these conversations now, to help prepare all of us with what to say – and not say – in response. We must talk in our families and in our churches and with friends until we get past our awkwardness and shame, our embarrassment and fear. This conversation must be ongoing, because there are parents today who need to know how to respond tomorrow. Next month. Next year.
And in five years, maybe someone in your family will feel safe to open up to you and tell you he’s gay.
Because you’ve been creating space for him to tell you anything all this time. Then you can reassure him that you love him. Most importantly, that God loves him.
So please, keep talking.