Parents of LGBT Children

"When I first realized I was gay, it was a like knife in my heart.  When I finally came out to my parents and they accepted me, the wound in my heart started to heal." ~ a friend

Has your son or daughter recently told you he or she was gay, lesbian, or bisexual or they feel like they were born into a body of the wrong gender and actually are the other gender?

Are you in a state of shock?

Do you worry that you might have somehow caused or contributed to their being gay or transgender?

Are you worried about the religious objections your church may have to homosexuality or gender variance? Are you worried about what your friends or family will think if you should support and accept your child?

Do you feel betrayed by your child?

Are you heartbroken at the thought of possibly not having biological grandchildren by your child?

Are you angry with your child and just want them to stop?  Do you feel that they have chosen to be gay or transgender and could choose to be different if they wanted?

Are you afraid for your child's safety?

Do you feel a sense of grief?

Do you wish you could get over your feelings but you just can't?

Do you feel some combination of some or all of these things and wonder if you're going crazy?

These feelings are all normal. You can't make them instantly disappear or change, much as you might try. Your child is still the same person he or she has always been, but you have just found out something that you didn't know about him or her.   Therefore, it seems as if your child has changed, and it feels as if your whole world has turned upside down.

Your child is still your child.  You have the ability to deal with this new information, to adjust to it, and to come to terms with it.   Many gay and transgender children are absolutely terrified to come out to their parents, for fear of being rejected, judged, or humiliated.  There are, in fact, many homeless LGBT youth because their parents have thrown them out.

Your child's sexual orientation or gender identity will not change, because it is inborn, just as your own is.  You did not choose to be straight or cisgendered (which means that your mind, feelings, and body agree about what gender you are).  Being gay or transgender was not a decision they made to hurt or punish you or for any other reason.  It was not a decision at all, but simply a realization that they are who they are and they way they are, and that way is different from how society thinks they should be.

The suicide attempt rate is staggeringly high among people in the LGBT community, as compared with those in the general population.  Your child needs your love and acceptance more than ever before.  They most likely struggled painfully before taking the risk to come out to you.  They are the target of judgement from certain segments of society in general and may be subject to discrimination and even extreme hatred from some.  But they have had the courage to begin to process the realization of who they are and even more courage to tell you about it.

You can be of invaluable help and support as your child processes all these things.  Fortunately, there is great help for both you and your child.  You can start by going online and finding PFLAG (which stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and they provide support for transgender people and their families as well).  You may also find a support group in your area or online for families of gay and/or transgender people. 

If you want the support of a therapist, be sure to look for one who is accepting and non-judgemental.  Many therapists are, but there are some who are not.  If you go to one who seemed accepting on the phone but you find they actually are not, you are not obligated to stay.

You can do this.  It may be very hard at first, but you have what it takes.