I was checking out a resource that a well-meaning person passed on to me just this week. It's a non-profit whose mission is to provide support for parents of and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Perfect, right? How thoughtful for this person to think of me when they met one of the people who founded it. These are the connections I am hoping to make and to be able to share with you.
As I dug deep into the organization's website, alarms started going off, and red flags began rising. I can't share this with my people, I thought. Here's why.
The driving idea behind what I read is that LGBTQ+ people are broken. Their guiding mission is to "offer comfort and emotional support to the parents of LGBT children, the LGBT community, and the church concerning broken sexual identity issues." Not only do I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement, but I also can't help perpetuate the idea that it might even be right.
Broken (adj): having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or working order. Alt: not complete or full.
We don't label other people as broken, so why the LGBTQ+ community?
There would be an outrage if we started. Can you imagine? What if we called disabled people broken? Or people who have a mental illness? How about those suffering from a chronic disease? Or Catholics who use artificial birth control when the Church rules against that? What about Jewish people who eat Kosher and don't mix meat and dairy, because if I don't understand that, it must be wrong, and those people must be broken. Do you see how crazy all of that sounds?
People in the LGBTQ+ community are just as whole as anyone else. You may disagree with their lifestyle or not approve of whom they choose to love, but that is your issue, not theirs. That does not make you broken either, but you need to be willing to recognize that your discomfort is about you and not them. Then, you can either work on that discomfort or not, but it frees you from carrying a burden of judgment.
Let me say it one last time for the people in the back: people in the LGBTQ+ community are not broken.
Now, this ministry that someone shared with me has good intentions. The need for love, support, and encouragement IS great. Parents need resources to help them adjust to a new family dynamic, which may be completely different than any they could ever have imagined. They might have some preconceived notions that they need to work through and let go of, and the best way to do that is by connecting with other people who have been where they are.
Here are some better places to do that:
Serendipiditydodah: a group for moms of LGBTQ children of all ages, from tiny to grown-up. It is a secret Facebook group (which means no one can see what you post, and it's not findable through the search bar). There are also three subgroups: One for moms of transgender children, one for moms who want to do acts of kindness in their local community (visit people in the hospital, provide temporary housing, send notes of support, etc.), and one for the Ann Arbor Blue Ocean Faith community. You can learn more by clicking this link.
Parents of Transgender Children: A closed Facebook group for any parent (not mom-specific, you can also be a caregiver or immediate family member) of transgender, gender questioning, gender fluid, agender, or other gender-nonconforming children of all ages. There is a list of rules about what you can and cannot share from within the group that protects the members' privacy, and an admin has to approve you before you can be added. They also have a subgroup for Allies of all of the above, in addition to the adult community. You can find that group here.
Fortunate Families: is a website/Facebook page working to bridge the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church together. They aim to share stories and engage in dialogues with the hierarchy, pastors, and parishes. You can learn more about them here at the website and here on the Facebook page.
PFLAG: PFLAG has over 400 chapters that provide support, education, and advocacy in nearly all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. They have a website and a Facebook group and are on all major social media channels. You can get started with their organization here.
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