My young friend came out to his parents today. It was his own Independence Day. He sat them down and told them in no uncertain terms. His mother cried. His dad was silent. He was scared.
That scenario plays out in so many households. It’s a shame that in this day and time we have to worry about what people think about our sexuality. It’s a shame that our young people still think they need to live in a closet. It’s a worse shame that there are some places where closets still keep people safe.
Our children should be able to tell us anything. They should be able to share their deepest fears and their greatest loves. They should be able to talk to us about who they are and where they want their lives to go. They should expect that we will celebrate with them when things go well and cry with them when they struggle. However, they should never expect that we will be harsh critics or judgmental.
Even within our LGBTQ family, there are some among us who don’t feel safe owning themselves publicly. We hear lesbians who make fun of gay men, gay men who make fun of each other, bisexuals who are criticized across the spectrum, and those who only support transgendered persons when they easily pass in society. And, that’s the least of our struggles. Why are we like this? Why does it have to be so hard?
Those among us who have hidden in the closet know how it feels. You wait for someone to figure out your secret. You go through life pretending to be one person in public, knowing that you’re someone else in private. When someone confronts you with the truth, you lie. “That’s not me. I don’t know what gave you that idea.”
It all stems from our fear of rejection and what that might actually mean. We want our parents to love us. We don’t want to be alone. We want to know that someone is there when life gets too tough to handle. So, the closet it is.
If you are already a parent, please look at your children and think about what might be their Closet Issue. Maybe it has to do with sexuality, but maybe it has to do with a dream job that doesn’t fit with your expectations. Maybe it has to do with a bully in their life. Maybe it’s none of the above. But, if there are Closet Issues, maybe you need to find a way to tell your child how much he or she is loved.
Maybe you already do that. If so, congratulations to you. Just know that there are many of our children, teens, and young adults out there who still need some affirmation. And, even if those children are not your own, maybe they need someone they can trust.
My young friend and his parents are going to be okay. His mom cried and then hugged him, saying that she loves him and supports him and can’t wait to see the man he will become in his future. His dad didn’t say much, but grabbed his son’s hand and held it for a very long time. This kid got the family support he needed. He’s feeling better, more assured and confident. His situation turned out for the best. Let’s strive to work toward a time when our children don’t need to be afraid of being themselves.
- Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, 2 biological kids, Guardian of one adorable toddler, and has been the foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She has worked with kids in the foster care system for over two decades, actively advocating for all kids, but especially those in the LGBT community. And, in her spare time, she can be found preaching in some of our area’s most LGBT-friendly churches. Feel free to send your parenting questions to her at Pastor.Kelly@comcast.net.