Acceptance

I’ve always been accepting of homosexuals. When I was in beauty college, I had my first real encounter with gay guys. I heard some pretty crazy stories about how they “became” gay. Most of them involved sexual molestation from a family member or friend of the family. This brought up very troubling thoughts for me, but they always carried on and partied like they were the happiest people on earth. I knew this couldn’t be true. I even put on a happy face to hide the pain.
Over the years, television personalities and movie stars came out of the closet and AIDS emerged as a disease closely identified with the gay community. Myths were soon dispelled and people became educated about how HIV was contracted. Soon people weren’t feeling like it was a death sentence. People knew to use condoms and have safe sex. If they didn’t they weren’t very smart.
Fast forward to 2002 and my oldest daughter came out as a lesbian. My former husband and I, and other members of the family, had already figured out she was a lesbian, but we were just waiting for her to tell us or figure it out herself.
I had it all planned out. We would go for family counselling to help her understand what she would be facing and to let her know we would be there to support her through good times and bad with total acceptance and unconditional love.
Of course, the best laid plans do not always happen the way you envision them in your mind.
She was seeing a girl at her school who wasn’t very popular and other students made fun of her on a daily basis. Did I mention my children pick up and bring home stray people the way some kids do stray animals? Well, this girl had become my daughter’s pet project. She, not my daughter, is the one who told us by e-mail that our daughter was a lesbian. Maybe she was going for shock value.
The only shocking part was the way it was delivered. Our daughter finally wrote a letter than was quite humorous and told us herself. As an athlete, she had many stereotypical images that her father had brought up over the years. All done in jest.
The sad part was when we went for family counselling, she thought we were trying to keep her from being a lesbian. This wrong assumption came because we didn’t want her in an wllunhealthy relationship with this girl, not because she’s a lesbian. The therapist didn’t help either because she didn’t know what she was doing and was playing both sides of the fence.
Looking back, I would have given my blessings on this relationship, but I’m better educated now. ….hindsight
Through the years I started educating myself and met other lesbian, gay, bisexual and even transgender people. PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) offers great advice and information to help people better understand LGBT people.
Scientist are proving that most LGBT people don’t choose to be this way, but are born this way. So the guys in beauty college were off base.
In 2010, my youngest daughter came out as bisexual and then as a lesbian. She was 22 years old. This was a little bit of a shock, but I love both of my daughters unconditionally and I’m very proud of the women they have become.
I think she was upset because I didn’t over react to her announcement. She had her struggles through a couple of rocky relationships, but is engaged to a sane young woman and they’re Doing well. It’s difficult to find heterosexual relationships who are as loving and as committed as those two.
Later that same year, I went to a conference and met a woman who had been president of a PFLAG chapter in Mississippi and we discussed it and she gave me great advice.
At this same conference, I was challenged with a sense of responsibility and asked who I was helping and what I was doing to make a difference.
Those were big challenges! I thought long and hard for a couple of weeks and had long talks with my higher power.
I felt God led me on this path. So, I got a few people together, checked to see if anything else existed in my community and it didn’t. My congregation was behind me and that meant a lot to me.
So, with the help of others, I founded the Auburn chapter of PFLAG. It was so great and we had great aspirations for the organization. I’m no longer involved, but hope they’re doing well.
This fall I’m hoping my congregation will start a group called Interweave. It’s for Unitarian Universalist, but others can join. Committing ourselves to renewing our welcoming congregation status in the community is an important goal as more and more LGBTQ people come out of the closet.
We all need to be there with open arms of acceptance and unconditional love.

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