The Month I Ran THAT Article (the LGBTQ one)
Take a look at your baby or young child. Lovely, sweet, innocent. Your heart swells with love for them. You nurture them, read to them, give them nutritious food to eat, teach them to brush their teeth, wash their hands and be kind to others. They grow and learn from you. They love and depend on you.
And then you throw them out, never to be seen or heard from again.
You may be thinking, “I would NEVER do such a thing! I can’t imagine it.” But, what if your child is LGBTQ? As harsh, shocking and heartbreaking as it sounds, many parents can’t accept an LGBTQ child.
Maybe 20 years ago – so long ago, I can’t recall the year and prior to our current website – TulsaKids ran an article giving advice on what parents should do if their gay or lesbian teen came out to them. At the time, I don’t think there was much talk about trans youth. We interviewed a psychologist, clergy and gay youth. The gist of the article was that LGBTQ youth should be treated with acceptance, support, love and compassion. In other words, they are “normal” and should be treated as such.
I thought it was a solid article with well-researched/current information as well as eye-opening quotes from gay teens.
I was naïve. The next few weeks were some of the most miserable, hate-filled weeks that I have ever experienced. I got mail with the article torn out and YOU’RE GOING TO HELL written in red marker across it. One business owner vowed to make sure that TulsaKids went out of business by convincing all of our advertisers to pull out. People wrote hateful letters. It went on for weeks. I was honestly fearful for my family. Did these angry people know where I lived? I felt terrible that I might have put my publisher out of business by running what I thought was an informative and sensitive article.
My stomach churns just thinking about the hate thrown at me. But I also remember the supportive letters. One was especially touching, and I will never forget it. A mom wrote to say that if there had been more articles like ours to normalize and encourage LGBTQ acceptance that her gay son might still be alive today.
I know that what I endured those few weeks is nothing compared with what a person who is gay, lesbian or transgender must often endure.
It’s well documented that LGBTQ youth are more at risk of suicide than their cisgender peers. They also have more physical and mental health risks.
I think things are better than they were all those years ago when that article came out in TulsaKids. I hope so. There is more transparency, openness and understanding. More positive and realistic depictions in films, books and television of LGBTQ individuals. There are more leaders, sports figures, actors, musicians and politicians who are open.
But there is still a long way to go. I can’t help thinking how nice it would be to not even have to think about writing a blog like this. My fellow bloggers, Diane Morrow Kondos (https://www.tulsakids.com/pride-rainbows-parades-and-free-mom-hugs/) and Kristi Roe Owen (https://www.tulsakids.com/raising-lgbt-affirming-kids-when-youre-an-imperfect-ally/) wrote some great pieces on the topic this week. Please read them!