Saturday Symposium: Parents and LGBT Children

Hello everyone! How is it August already? The summer is flying by. We’ve had some great conversations on the blog this week. Thanks so much for sharing your perspectives! We always welcome all commenters to our comment box.

Now let’s discuss our new Saturday Symposium question:

How this works: It’s very simple. We ask a multi-part question related to a topic we’ve blogged about during the past week or are considering blogging about in the near future, and you, our readers, share your responses in the comments section. Feel free to be open, reflective, and vulnerable…and to challenge us. But as always, be mindful of the comment policy that ends each of our posts. Usually, we respond fairly quickly to each comment, but in order to give you time to think, come back, add more later if you want, and discuss with other readers, we will wait until after Monday to respond to comments on Saturday Symposium questions.

This week’s Saturday Symposium question: This week, we opened a conversation about parents and how they respond to their LGBT children. We’d love to hear more about relationships between LGBT children and their parents. If you’re LGBT, what factors do you consider as you contemplate sharing information about your sexual orientation and gender identity with your parents? If you are LGBT and out to your parents, how did your parents respond when you came out? Did you feel rejected, accepted, or somewhere in-between? What did your parents do well? What do you wish your parents had done differently? If you’re a parent of an LGBT child, what questions did you have before your son or daughter came out? How did you respond when your child came out to you? How has having an LGBT child affected your personal sexual ethic?

We look forward to reading your responses. If you’re concerned about having your comment publicly associated with your name, please consider using the Contact Us page to submit your comment. We can post it under a pseudonym (i.e. John says, “your comment”) or summarize your comment in our own words (i.e. One person observed…). Participating in this kind of public dialogue can be risky, and we want to do what we can to protect you even if that means we preserve your anonymity. Have a wonderful weekend!


Sarah and Lindsey

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

6 thoughts on “Saturday Symposium: Parents and LGBT Children

  1. I came out to my parents about 6.5 months ago. The initial response was very hard for all of us. My dad remained fairly calm, but my mom was much more reactionary and accusatory initially. Saying things like, “Why did you stop counseling? You lied to us. You told us you were ‘taking care of this’. We thought you had a faith”. It was very difficult. BUT, my parents both assured me of their deep love for me and that they wouldn’t reject me. We still have growing to do, but my parents are coming along. When I came out, especially publicly, my parents had to ‘come out’ too. I must constantly remember how I’ve been internally processing my sexuality for over 10 years, and they have only had 6.5 months. We learn to be patient with one another and have grace for the other. When I initially came out, I definitely felt ‘somewhere in-between’ accepted and rejected. Although, I lean more towards the ‘accepted side’.

    Things my parents did well: made very clear of their love for me/assured me they weren’t ‘cutting me off’ (they were helping with college).

    Things maybe not so well: the initial accusatory reaction. However, I expected this in some sense.

    Things I wish were done differently: there wasn’t an accusatory reaction. That was difficult.

    However – my parents and I are on this journey together in some sort. They are incredible, they just need time and I must remember to have grace, not push talking about it, and wait for their approach.

    Overall – we still have a wonderful relationship.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. You bring up an important point that many LGBT people have had years to process their experiences and parents have not had that time. So many conservative parents have not asked the question, “How should I respond if my child tells me that he or she is LGBT?” and can be caught unaware.

  2. I told my parents about 3 years ago. I was 49 at the time. However, I had been aware that they had known since I was about 13. We had just never talked about it and pretty much had pretended I was straight.

    Of course they said the obligatory “We know and we love you anyway.” So I guess that was good.

    I sort of wish I was not celibate and did not hold to the traditional Christian sexual ethic myself because then my parents would have been forced to deal with the fact I am gay much earlier. As it is, there is this whole part of me that I can’t share with them because they wonder why it was such a big deal if I am not going to have sex anyway. I really wish they would have at least asked me some questions about my sexuality, like what it felt like growing up gay. At least then I would have senses the were willing to get to know the whole me instead of just the part they approve of. So I guess the number one thing I wish they would have done differently was to be more interested in my experience.

    The number two thing – not ask if I had ever had sex with my adopted son. That question hurt.

    The number three thing – drop the word “anyway” and just say “we love you.”

    • Hi Matt! Thanks for joining the discussion here and adding your perspective. Being in a relationship does change the tenor of how LGBT people disclose their LGBT status.

      We appreciate your forthrightness in the questions that hurt. So many people assume the worst about how LGBT folk behave sexually.

      We hope we’ll see you more in the comment box!

  3. I grew up in a liberal part of the country, and attended a church in my youth that was so liberal as to not really be part of the Christian tradition. Ironically, I am actually significantly more connected to a Christian faith than my family of origin (although significantly less so than most readers/commenters here).

    I came out to my parents when I was still in high school. Although our tradition had long affirmed and accepted LGBT people (we even had a gay interim minister when I was in fifth grade), my parents did struggle a bit with the news that their own child was a lesbian. My dad thought it might be a phase, my mom worried that I might turn my little brother gay, and that I’d never be happy because of the stigma I would face.

    This was all more than ten years ago, now. In the past decade they’ve grown more comfortable. They met a few of my girlfriends, and they met my now-wife Cassie when we were still in the early dating phase. When we were married, this past May, our fathers walked us down the aisle and we danced at the reception with our mothers. My sister’s three year old served as our flower girl. Our wedding was attended by siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and by friends of the family I’d known from childhood.

    The gift that is full membership within our families of origin cannot be understated. We aren’t castaways. We aren’t grudgingly accepted embarrassments. We have been allowed to give and receive love from our families without the sorts strains and caveats that would have been inevitable just a couple decades ago. I consider that a blessing, and I think it must come from God, because I can’t imagine anywhere else it could have come from.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with your family! There are a lot of reasons why parents of every theological opinion might not know the best way to respond to their LGBT children. Relationships definitely change in time, and it’s good to see a longer-haul perspective.

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