LGBT familes, teen advice to parents: Be prepared

Here is the liveblogging (cleaned up this time!) of the COLAGE panel about growing up in LGBT families.

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There’s five people on the panel all looking just a tiny bit nervous. I’m admiring one girl’s pink flip-flops and matching pink tshirt and headband and light pink sweatshirt with hood… nice but not TOO matching if you know what I mean… Totally cute and casual.

We’re in the Ceremonial Room on the 4th floor, with its sloping ceilings and huge glass windows. I really like this building! 

There are 26 people in the audience… not a big crowd.

COLAGE stands for Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere.  Their banner says "Equality for All Families."

Jesse is introducing/moderating for tonight. He explains that the actual moderator got sick at the last minute. Brief intro of COLAGE. They are a national organization with many different local chapters. 3 groups in SF, two in East Bay, one in South Bay, and another called TransGeneration.  Some groups are run by kids and some by adults.  Purpose: to bring activities, support, connection to LGBT families.  Peer support, email lists, pen pal program, newsletter, regional conferences, family weeks.  Advocacy on legislation on bills that will affect LGBT families. Questions are welcome. 

[I am sure donations are welcome too, so if you enjoy my liveblogging of this panel, send them a little cash love!]

That part about the pen pals sounds cool…

Jesse is 24 and grew up in central Pennsylvania raised by his mom and partner of 17 years… his dad was his mom’s boyfriend, they broke up, he never met his dad. And does not know what it would be like to grow up in the Bay Area…. 

Request to the audience not to single out one person on the panel but make question general like "for those of you who have gay dads…"  or "for those of you who are adopted."   Panel is meant to be question-answer, etc.   rather than one on one conversation but you could have conversations later afterwards.

I might be getting people’s names wrong and if so, I’m sorry, let me know, and I’ll fix it!  Also, excuse where I slip in and out of first person, it was the heat of the moment.

Sarah, 17 years old, senior at St. Ignatius in the Sunset… she was just accepted to Loyola Marymount. Was adopted at birth by her 2 dads.  Her birth mother was 18 and too young to raise a child on her own. "She chose my parents." Sarah went to Catholic grammar school also in the Sunset,  Jesuit based school.   

Renzi, 22, senior at UC Berkeley, phd in american studies next year… mom and dad got divorced, came from Lebanon during the war in 1989.  Mother met the love of her life, who became my 2nd mom.  My brother and I are also actually both gay. grew up in Orange county which is not fun but weirdly the gay capital of the planet. my moms are high profile in that area. my dad got remarried and

Alex, 13, willow crk academy in sausalito, you’ve never heard of it, three parents, 2 mons and a dad, had 2 dads but one died.  my dad was a donor to my mom and that’s how I was born. Other than that I have a pretty average life and that’s pretty much it.

Sarah, 14, 2 gay dads, was adopted twice once by each of them, 1st adoption I was 1 year old and the 2nd I was 2 years old.

Opal, 15, freshman, SF school of arts, 2 moms, adopted at birth, my birth mom was 16 and was too young.  My sister was adopted 2 years after me and I lead a pretty average life too.

question:   have there been periods of life or times you have been embarrassed by your parents?   

Sarah sr. – for me parents can embarrass their child whetehr straight or gay… I’ve never been embarrassed because they were gay, we’ve been stared at, but it’s San francisco… I’ve always been accepted by every community I’ve ever been in.  they don’t do anything really outrageous that another parent wouldn’t do too.

Alex – most of the time the only reason people were staring at my dad was to think wow he has good fashion sense or wow, he’s cute.  a lot of my friends it starts out they dont understand and it’s kind of embarrassing, and then they accept it and I explain and it’s not realy all that embarrassing.  at least not any more than a straight parent would be.

Opal – I’m  not embarrassed by my parents but sometimes it’s hard when you go other places where people aren’t used to gay and lesbian people because people are staring pretty  hard. And you can feel it.  we go up to northern cali to mendocino and we get stared out pretty hard.  And my sister is also black and is really dark and I’m really light.  But people don’t really care, once they get to know me they get used to my parents.  sometimes people come up to me and say "oh you have 2 moms that’s not cool " or something really harsh. And then you decide they can’t be your friend. because they’re being prejudiced towards you and your family.

question: going back to elementary school did you ever lie about your parents or family to other people? or tried to hide them?

Renzi – in high school , that was the era when people could tell that I was homosexual and that I was comfortable with that. I never actually came out to people but instead had the principle that it was none of their business. one of my moms is the number one real estate agent in the area and another one was a principal and everyone knows they’re together but no one says it.  when I came to berkeley it was like I was always saying "i have LESBIAN MOMS…"   but it’s not your right to know.. It’s a privilege… It wasn’t lying it was, they had no business in my life.

Opal – from elementary to middle school and people would come to you and ask you questions… And you don’t want to repeat it all, repeat the same story over and over. you have to trust someone first before you go into it. It’s really  hard sometimes.

15 yr old Sarah – In elementary school for me, a lot of the other kids had gay and lesbian parents and a lot of the teachers were out too. It was very welcoming, I never thought about it. Once I hit middle school there was a lot of tension around that issue.  I told only my friends. But it was a big school and everyone found out. But people didn’t really care, anyway. They either knew or didn’t know me at all.

Alex- went to a big public school, most of the people there were homophobic and I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. But once my friends met my parents they realize they were really cool people.   To people who I didn’t know and who I didn’t trust I would say that I was living with two parents then they divorced and remarried and that’s why I had 4 parents.  And when I changed schools, in middle school, at that point… There was a point when people were really hateful to me and I changed schools and decided to come out and tell people. And all my friends were supportive. And when my parents got married all my friends freaked out and wanted to come.    and I ended up wishing I had never lied about it. It was easier to be up front from the beginning.

question:  twofold: what has effect been on you guys of media coverage of gay and lesbian families, gl parents, and negativity that kids run around, laws and stuff.   and also, how have your parents helped or not helped, that made that easier or not?

Opal; Gavin Newsom with the marriages in 2004, that brought out some negativity in the media and so has adoption.  My parents have really been there for me when I need to talk about it. I can be really angry.  After the gay marriages thing happened, some negativity went towards me in middle school having lesbian moms, like :"oh since your parents got married and are dykes you must be a dyke? "

Sarah sr.   - At my school when something comes out in the catholic church or media we all discuss it, the teachers are really willing to discuss it. We have had great in-class discussions.   Most of the students at the school are open minded, liberal, open to the idea of homosexuality. I get a lot of positive attitudes. you always get your select few that are homophobic and will go with whatever the media says.  But mostly it opens up discussion which is educational and supportive. I’ve been in the public eye my whole life becuas my parents encourage me to speak.  they don’t want me to do media stuff, they don’t want to be seen on tv, but…

Renzi.   As an academic I take things and think about, what are the means behind… I study american popular culture… when I see queer families it forces me to reasses… part of difficulty growing up in queer family I never had to think about it, we were all just queer and it was normal.  Now I am in argument with queer people in my community, I play devils’ advocate, it’s important to ask these questions of ourselves, why do we want this issue specifically… That gets people angry with me.  my own moms are high profile… They have no interest in getting  married, my 2nd mom has no interest in adopting me, not because of any lack of love… different queer people want different things.  what is it that we want – we have to ask ourselves that. At Berkeley…

Alex – The thing is, with my friends, they accept the fact and a lot of them aren’t negative at all… when they hear about gay issues that are unfair in the media they come up to me and talk to me about how unfair they are.  My parents never needed to do anything to make me feel better about anything. That’s just normal family… normal stuff happens… They’re just… There’s nothng that they need to do to make me feel better. 

[This made me tear up, a little...]

question – movies.  cheap shots at gay, trans, etc.  how do you reconnect… do you sayt something when you see those images… or do they say something?   how do you react with other people when encountering homophobia….

Renzi -my friends are all at Berkeley and are all scholars…. we have very serious discussions…  brokeback mountain…  people sometimes react like, are we supposed to be happy just cause there’s queer people in the movie?  Is this how we want to be represented?  There’s no accurate representation of people in pop culture at all ever…   so we ask , is this humanly complicated?  what films do that? And show complexity?

(I ask if people feel pressured to speak up against homophobia…)

Opal… when people say something homophobic I speak up but not as harshly. I don’t feel pressured but I just do it, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, I have friends and family to protect.

Alex.  when I see homophobia in movies it’s usually in comedies  and a lot of the time I’m laughing harder than anyone else because I can understand it more. And I have to talk to them about it to explain why it’s mean and wrong but… It’s also funny.  I also feel like it’s just what I do.

Sarah sr.   In grammar school I did a lot of sticking up, if a slur was made I’d say please would you not say that, and I’d explain why… But in high school I made a conscious decision I wouldn’t say as much. In religion classes, I didn’t say as much, I’d see what other people would say, first.  if they would stand up for it first. If nothing was said , to the other side of the story, then I’d jump in .   in many situations people speak up.   Someone goes ‘oh it’s so gay’.  And someone else will say ‘could you not say that, it’s so offensive to me…"  I don’t even have to be the one to say it.   We had an anti-homophobia discussion… there were these people outside saying horrible things… one of the biggest football players around told the horrible people outside to be quiet.  I didn’t have to do it, someone else completely out of the blue did it. I don’t always have to take that teacher role.

Sarah jr.  When I go to see a movie with some of my friends a lot of people look to me to explain.  People turn and look at me as if I’m supposed to automatically know and explain.  But I can’t always do that. I’m just one person.

question:  do you see yourself missing out on anything? or getting something that non lgbt familes dont have to deal with?

Sarah sr.  could you rephrase? 

question: do you feel like you’re missing out… on something…

Renzi:  on a daily basis no.  But one thing I benefitted from was the work it takes to maintain a queer family because there’s no blueprint. Other families maybe take that for granted. You don’t have to do the work of maintaining those bonds. That makes me feel so much more connected to my family every day. we don’t take it for granted. That’s so amazing.

Sarah sr.   With my friends who have a mom and a dad… I find a lot of … what’s the word… The wife does one thing and the husband is expected to do another thing… Oh, gender roles?  But in lgbt families the roles are just completely blended so there is  no specific role and things are done equally. There is more sense of equality. So I gained something,  I’m not expected to do something because I’m a woman, in the family.

Alex – one thing I can think of … I’m really in touch with my feminine side. most of my friends are girls.  [*appreciative laughter*]  I can’t think of any bad thing… nothing negative I can think of that relates to having gay parents.

Opal -  all  my friends think my parents are REALLY COOL and that it must be so much easier… But actually it’s not…

question: do you ever feel pressured to be the perfect family? because everyone’s sort of LOOKING….

Sarah sr.   Actually I do.   Everyone’s going to have fights with the family.  And I do work with COLAGE and I’m being put on the spotlight.  People need to know that a family  is not going to be perfect. There’s never going to be that perfect, oh we’re never going to fight ever.  But sometimes yes.   I feel pressure but I get over it.

Alex – My family is as perfect as any family’s ever going to be.   

*snif*

[someone elect Alex president, he can really pack a rhetorical punch... he could start the young demogogue's league... or, well, just send that kid to law school.]

question:   issues with curriculum in school?

Opal – Kindergarten, family project, where do you come from, who are your parents.  I wasn’t nervous. In kindergarten I brought in pictures and everyone was like, where’s the dad.  You have to have a daddy. And the teacher explained it to them.   In middle school we were talking about ballot issues and when it came to the gay marriage issue the teacher asked me to speak about it, and the whole class went crazy.   And were asking me really offensive questions. Like "oh you’re a dyke and all your friends are fags and you’re going to hell because jesus hates you."  And the teacher had to step in and I had to leave the classroom. 

Sarah jr.  On mothers day, because I have two dads… I didn’t really have a mother to make a card for.  Or I’d be sitting there doing nothing or I’d think of another woman important in my life and make her something and then father’s day I had to do two!  People never said anything but it was kind of awkward.

Opal — fathers day in elementary school I would sit there with markers and make a ton of cards for my uncles. And so I would just say "I don’t have a dad." And people would  say, "Man, you have a lot of uncles."  It was like Uncles’ Day.

Sarah sr.  I don’t know if any of you are thinking of sending kids to religious school but if you do, religion class always brings up the bible and homosexuality in the bible, and the roman church and what they’re saying about marriage… The students are more open than the teachers. The teachers like to stick to the curriculum.  a few jesuits at our school… They tend to be very conservative… we’re reading Brideshead Revisited in english and there’s an undercurrent of homosexualty and a priest came in and kept teaching us No, there’s nothing going on there… And if you’re read the book you know there’s something going on there.  And the students, we had a good three days of telling him that he was wrong and we were right and there was homosexuality in the book.  The students start to run the show, the teachers have to let the students have their say as they get older.

Alex – When I was in 6th grade my family tree was the biggest in the house.

jesse -  ca Safe Schools coalition… the people focusing on safe schools on a policy level. They are focusing on youth in high school who are themselves queer.  But it’s not always that.  Kids in preschool who have GLBT families have to deal with it.  The schools need to address those issues from very beginning in age-appropriate ways.

question:  we’re new moms… lesbian… any advice?

Sarah sr.  Don’t worry!  Don’t stress!  Challenges will come! You’ll know what to do! You’ll deal with it and it will turn out!   I like to think I turned out okay.

Renzi:  I could rattle on for 8 hours about it…  be intuitive, follow intuition.   Don’t let your kids make you feel bad about raising them.  You didn’t do anything wrong and it’s not your fault.   When I became a teenager I had to turn it against my mom… But then I realized…   This is going to sound really weird but don’t take it wrong… It took her a long time to say that she was gay.   

Alex -    Any problems you feel like you’re having, every single straight parent with a child is having those exact same problems so don’t worry about it.

question:  do each of you have distinct memory of having a conversation … or a moment when you realized your parents were g/l

Opal:  I knew I had 2 women living in the house, kids don’t notice when you’re older… I was like 1 year old and kinda NOTICED I didn’t have a dad.  No one had to explain to me they were lesbians… I just knew. I mean, I was right there.

Sarah jr.   Grew up with them as far back as I could remember and it was all I knew. In preschool… I have this one memory, it was family day and I had a poster with pictures and it had pictures of us at Pride and had a rainbow flag in the corner and I was like, hmm, my family’s a little bit different!

Renzi:  it happened in 2 phases, you’ll love this, when my mom divorced… It was purely logistical, it was not devastating for me… I was like, woo, I get two sets of xmas presents… for my brother it was devastating because he could see the emotional fallout, he was older, he was 9.  Later, I was 12 when someone said something to me and I asked my mom what did they mean, and she started crying… And I started crying and said "because I think I’m the same way" and my other mom came home and said, "you’re really young maybe you don’t know. " Of course you don’t want your kids to solidify their identity when they’re like 12.  But listen to them and maybe they’ll stay witih it and maybe they’ll change their minds and you’ll be like, Whaaaaat?

Alex – the first time I noticed I went over to a friend’s house and they had straight parents, my first memory of being there, is the point when I noticed, "wow there are people who aren’t like me and my parents are different."

question:   I used to work at this adoption agency…   and it was the norm then in tennessee that if you were gay and lesbian you were unfit. Because it was like contagion and your kid would grow up to be gay.     Anyway, it doesn’t matter and your orientation doesn’t matter,…..  But I’m hearing you as being so articulate and aware, do you see yourself as having more or less complexity or awareness of family or social structure… To me it’s really striking.

Sarah sr.   Being raised in the gay community I’ve been open to so many differences, sexual orientation or religion or race.. That’s been a big benefit on my part where I’ve been taught to be open and love everyone else, some of my friends with straight parents haven’t been given that opportunity to know difference and accept difference.

Renzi:  It’s something I think about all the time, that is what we do in school at Berkeley, we articulate this stuff… forging human ocnnections takes an unbelieveable amt of work.  I published this piece called "a dialogue of definition" in "in the family" magazine… how do you deal with ambiguity.   Having to deal with ambiguities of realtionships means you Have to be aware of complexity.  Berkeley is all about that.  It is a requirement for us!  We have to be better and smarter…we have to struggle to be mediocre.. If you’re gay and mediocre you just prove the point that gay people are mediocre, so, you have to be better harder faster stronger…

question:   as a gay parent, there’s a down side too. They get asked a lot fo stupid question.  We give our kids shelter but we also have to teach them strategies. What are your strategies for dealing with stupid people?

Sarah sr.   When I’ve been asked stupid questions, just give them the right answer, truthful answer… If they don’t get it they really are stupid and that’s their own fault and problem not mine.

Opal:  When stupid people come up to  me, i’ll be hanging out, we’ll be at school or the bus station… "oh, how did you come here since your parents are lesbians and lesbians can’t have kids…"   so I have to break it down for them.  And my friend step up and explain it.  So I don’t have to do  it. Or I’ll say I was brought by a stork… I came in on a train… hahahah… one idiot came to me one time and said, "Don’t your parents get to trade you in and get to pick out another kid?"  and I’m standing there, like….   *horrified laughter from audience*  and my friend was like, "She wasn’t born at Albertsons, she wasn’t born at Safeway…" And they’re like… "Oh, yeah. But don’t they get to trade you in!? "  and I’m like… uh… !!! 

Renzi:  as stupid as those questions can be I also relish the opportunity to talk about it. I’ve asked my own stupid questions, about race and gender. There’s a line between ignorant questions and hateful questions.  So it’s hard for me to call them stupid.   And I’m really glad they’re asking me. Like,  I get to say, "Where did you get that idea??  Because that’s not the way it works for me."

Alex :   In my opinion the best way to answer a stupid question is with a stupider answer.

question:   what was it like for you in your extended family when your mom came out.   

Renzi:  My mom did not come out, the extended family did not talk about it, it was all just kind of obvious she left him for another woman.  It took years but then they got over it and fell in love with my mom again.  I got a message that you should do in life what makes you happy.  And everyone got hurt.  Everyone had a right to be affected by this emotionally… just because you’re queer you don’t have a right not to communicate.  I was on my mom’s side… But then later I was like, to  my mom, maybe if you had told him… before 7 years went by.. That you were a lesbian, maybe that would have been useful to him and more fair.   It was  hard not to take sides.   The only way not to take sides was to realize that everyone had a stake in this.   

question:   do you come from large extended families?  are you close on both/all sides?

Opal: I’m close with only one side. I hate to say this but one of my mom’s familes is homophobic, conservative and racist.  some of them aren’t.  But the other side is really appreciative.     The other side has not reached out to me.

srah jr.   I have a huge extended family.  My fathers’ friends had children also. A community thing with us. I’d spend regular nights at their houses and they’d spend the night too. all my older sibilings are off at college… I didn’t see the others as parents but as other adults I my life… my one dad is an only child, my other dad  has a sister so I have an uncle and and aunt and cousins.

Alex. My extended family is ginormous.  Each one of my 4 parents have many borthers and sisters. And one of my parents was a foster child so she has several different parents she’s in touch with and MORE sisters and cousins and, too many to describe.  On one of my daddy’s sides I only have one aunt, and then an uncle I don’t really want to talk to, and his mom… no comment.  For example I haven’t gotten a single word.. no letters or emails… of sadness or grief for my father’s death.  While his sister, my aunt, did.  Most of my other family is really accepting and loving.   Most of my family friends, are gay or bi or transgender whatever you want to call it. I also have a godfather, godbrother and pretty much a brother too.   My family’s huge and I can’t think of any downsides but my one dad’s mother.

Sarah jr.  My other cousins are adopted and one is black, another from india, I don’t know what I am… so… we’re pretty open… for the most part they’re pretty open.  A lot of them *weren’t* but over time they became more accepting.  My grandfather was *not* into them being together but then I came, and they were like Oh okay, a grandchild…. okay… So I like to think I tied the family together.

Renzi:  I have a huge fmaily in Lebanon but don’t see them very often. They’ve very loving when I see them…

question: How long have each of you been a member of COLAGE? how has that been of value to you?

Opal – since 8th grade. 

Sarah jr. I think this is my third year in COLAGE.  In middle school.  It helped me in middle school because there was the beginning of the tension. It was a great way to get.. To erase the tension and talk about it with other people… when I went back to school the next day

Alex – a long time… since I was 6 or 7.  around that age.   I made great friends there. And it’s an organization that needs as much support as it can get.

[Wow, Alex IS a great politician... go Alex!]

Renzi – I’ve been involved for 2 years, volunteering.  But the wonderful thing to me is just knowing that it exists.  I like knowing the support network is there and is national.  People get so excited when they hear about it.   The knowledge that it exists is enough in a way.

Sarah sr.  since about 6th grade — I’ve been in YLAP, youth leadership action program.. we put out a film "in my shoes" and it’s now touring the country. I’ve been doing a lot of panels.  It’s given me confidence, I’m very confident speaking in front of popele, I’m  not scared to argue with a person if they have conflicting viewpoints.  COLAGE has given me a lot of confidence.

personal question:   for adopted kids… concerns about birth families? would they react to your curren tfamily? 

Sarah sr.  My birth mom found my parents through a sort of catalog, so my mom chose them.  So she would not have an issue.  I’ve only met my birth mother once but she keeps in contact with letters.

Sarah jr. I’ve never met my birth parents, or communicated with them… I’ve thought occasionally about who they are… But.. I really love my family but it’s not a question where I want to find them because I’m missing something… my birth mom might be someone I want to meet later in life… I don’t know if they’d have issues but if they did, well, kind of like, well, tough.  You couldn’t take care of me and you need to think about that, because my parents did and gave me amazing opportunities.

question: are any of you part of other glbt organizations?

Opal:  I’m in the GSA. I do a lot with the G/L community.

[I realize that I am not only a hick from Texas who went to a crappy high school; I am also an old lady. I don't know what GSA means though I figure "G" for gay...]

srah sr.  Most schools have a GSA.   ours is called Safe Place.   The archbishop had issues with us calling ourselves Gay-Straight Alliance.  [AHA! GSA!]  The homophobia powow was one of the largest… we have others on drugs and stuff… day of silence, transgender awareness day.

Renzi:  Question from earlier about advice… I’m not very involved in the queer community, there’s this assumption if you’re queer you  must be always doing queer studies. It’s hard to make alliances across gender and race and class and sexuality… as children we have to make those alliances.. we don’t have to only be in the glbt communty… my parents tried to create friendships with more lesbians but then couldn’t deal…

question:  do you have other issues?

Sarah sr.  yeah I have other issues…!!!

[what a question!]

Opal:  I have issues, other than having a queer family, a lot of pressure with drugs and alcohol and relationships for kids my age.

Alex – for me the biggest problem is dating.   Not just who to go out with but there’s a lot of pressure because a lot of my friend have boyfriends and girlfriends and the ones that don’t are pressured to ahve them. etc. It’s … be ready for that.

sarahjr.  biggest issue is school and doing well academically. every kid gets that. But right now.. me and my parents are in the middle of a not perfect time… we’re argueing over grades and what I need to do. And my friends who are 4.0 and super brilliant. I get good grades but am not a 4.0 students. I get a lot of pressure to be that student just because my friends do.

Renzi: queerness has beent he least of my problems.  Oh and Alex, I have news for you, dating will continue to be a big problem for the rest of your life… I think it is for everyone…  [*rueful laughter of agreement from audience*]

question:    Do you ever get tired of going to queer events etc.  queer burnout.

answer:  no, no, no and no.
Alex: no
Sarah jr.  No, I actually like hanging with other glbt families.. as comfortable as I am in everyday life, it’s more comfortable… There’s never that *question*.

Renzi: I sad this earlier.. But I think we all change our vision of the way our families are.  I used to think we were just like anyone else. But now I think we are different, all families are different.    At berkeley for instance this campus talks about queer issues all the time sometimes to the point other issues get negated.

question:  or really statement:   this is crucial. This work is crucial… It’s easier here but, in the south… There are thousands of kids in georgia, tennessee… I’m a family law attorney…   I was the 2nd out attorney in the whole effing state. And I couldn’t adopt till I came here. It’s not like I didn’t know the system, either.  In the bay area we have this bubble, like "Oh it’s just regular."  Well it ain’t regular everywhere.   

Opal:  I feel pressured my gay friends want me to speak for them. Sometimes it can be weighty because what I f you say the wrong thing.  It can be  heavy for me.   I want to protect them. 

Sarah jr. my cousin did a study abroad program in chile.. And I kind of had been living in that bubble. And it was normal . But when I went on this trip her hosts sisters boyfriend had never met a gay person in his life. he was kind of homophobic but he also had an open mind. we’re sitting there… me and my cousin are the only ones who can fluently speak spanish, and they didn’t really speak english so my parents were trying to talk to this guy and talk to the parents and they really couldn’t so I would translate for them. But he tended to ask me a lot of the questions too. I spent a  couple of hours sitting there having this guy bombard me with questions.  [Wow, just like now!]  It was a lot of pressure at that moment.  once I got out of there I thought about it, he really wanted to know. That’s why he was asking so many questions. I’m okay with that pressure because I felt like got to open his mind a little bit more.

Sarah sr.  I went back east for a national student leadership conference, in washington dc, 250 students, we do sort of live in a bubble in the bay area where we see differences all over the place. so going to another place where there are teens my age from very conservative parts of the country, it was very interesting. I gave a talk, well actually I just got up and bawled, about my family in front of 250 people not only did I release pressure thru the tears but being able to share my story opened up people’s hearts and minds. a few people came out.  on that excursion. because they felt comfortable they came up to me and shared their stories.

Alex: one more thing, I think you should encourage your kid to have people over, like, friends over, because as soon as they’re exposed to an lgbt family, all my friends like my parents.  my parents are like the coolest parents in school. peopel ask to come over so they can hang out with my parents.  I notice an instant change in their personalities…  my one friend was a teensy bit homophobic when I first met him and I told him that’s not cool. And then he came over and went, wow, they’re like my mom.  he realized they’re the same  as other parents, and he totally changed since that day.

Sarah jr.   apparently we all have the coolest parents at our schools.

Alex: That’s my advice to you. Be prepared to be the coolest parents. 

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5 Responses to “LGBT familes, teen advice to parents: Be prepared”

  1. elswhere



    Wow, this is great! Thank you SO MUCH for blogging it. It’s incredibly helpful to me as a parent and also for some writing I’ve been thinking about doing.
    Also, it gives me hope that MG won’t always see us as style-challenged dorks. One day maybe she’ll be like these kids and think we’re the coolest parents at her school!

  2. minnie



    how very awesome!

  3. savtadotty



    I loved this post! Very encouraging. Especially the part about you being an old lady.

  4. Mary



    Great write up! I’m getting all teary-eyed just reading it. What eloquent teenagers. I’m totally impressed.

  5. Prentiss Riddle



    Wow! Such notes! Will you be my study partner? :-)

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