We are mainly parents of LGBT+ youngsters ourselves, not trained counsellors and we don’t propose to give out advice because every person’s situation is unique. But we do offer a listening ear in a safe confidential environment and are happy to share our own experiences with other parents and family members who are concerned about their loved one’s sexuality or gender identity.
You might have been wondering about their sexuality or gender identity for a while, or the announcement might have come as a bolt out of the blue. Perhaps they have yet to ‘come out’ but somehow you know that they need your support.
Most parents assume that their children will grow up to be heterosexual (straight). They won’t have thought that one day they would hear the words ‘Mum. Dad. I’ve got something to tell you. I’m gay!’
We know that each family situation is different but most parents find it helpful to know how other parents have coped in a similar situation. It is often helpful to know that your emotions and concerns are shared by other parents who have an LGBT+ child.
Some parents want to know why this is happening. There are endless theories about sexual orientation and gender identity. The fact is though that your child is identifying as a person that is different and you want the very best for them. You are probably coping with some complex emotions of your own as well as wanting to understand what is going on for your child.
Sue, one of the parents who set up the group, got involved after hearing from her lesbian daughter, who attended the Freedom Youth group for lesbians and gays, that some of the teenagers had been rejected by their parents. “I was horrified to hear what other kids were going through – I still am. I know there are times when you don’t like the way your children behave, but you always love them. There are 16-year-olds being thrown out of their homes because of their sexuality or gender identity. I can’t understand that,” says Sue.
The group is open to parents, relatives, friends and couples – where one partner comes out as LGBT+. “It’s a self-help group. None of us are counsellors, we’re here to talk about our own experiences and encourage one another. On a first visit some parents don’t talk at all, a few have cried, but many have said as they left, ‘I’m glad I came and I’m coming again’. When they return they start to chip in and once they start we then sit back and let them talk.”