This blog is being shared as part of a three-part series during Pride Month to celebrate and honor a diversity of voices representing Impossible’s LGBTQ+ and Ally experiences. At Impossible, we strive to foster an environment of inclusion for all people and voices that encourage collaboration and innovation to help us achieve our mission.
Once upon a time there was a woman who never really thought she’d be a good mother; so she said to the world, “I don’t want kids.” Yup, joke’s on me. To be honest, the reason I didn’t want to have a child wasn’t because of any anti-procreation stance or hatred of kids, but rather an intense fear of having the responsibility of shaping the morals and values of a human being. I didn’t and still don’t feel like it’s a job I’m qualified to do. But here I am 16 years later with a wonderful, beautiful human being whom I can’t imagine not existing.
I’m writing this blog as a parent of a child in the LGBTQI community. In my opinion, being a parent to a straight child versus one that is part of the LGBTQI community is not vastly different, so I think my experience will resonate with a lot of parents. Let me start at the beginning.
From the first day I met my Sydney, when the doctor put her on my chest, my mantra began. “Just keep her alive. Just keep her alive.” Then as she grew through the terrible twos and the why why why threes, it was “This too shall pass. This too shall pass.” Being a parent means doing the best you can to provide your child with the morals, motivation, and resources to be a healthy and productive human being. You try to guide them through the treacherous terrain of puberty, steer them through the “I know it all” stage, and provide them with just enough rules and responsibilities without suffocating their creative will. You can find a ton of self help books out there to teach you on how to “Parent with Logic and Love” or “Raise Good Humans,” but in the end it’s really about empathy, being a good listener, and winging it with your well-developed instincts.
When my wonderful girl “came out” to me three years ago I immediately felt a confused mixture of honor and sadness. I was honored she was able to share her truth with me, but then I was hit with the sad realization of how hard that journey must have been. Although Sydney’s high school is more “woke” than most in the Bay Area, and her friends are very supportive, I was sad that she and other kids like her have to “come out” at all. Why does living your true authentic self require a big announcement or struggle? When I found out I was having a girl I decided that I wanted to teach her that gender shouldn’t define how she should live her life. I also didn’t want her gender to define how and who she chose to love. When I was growing up “LG” was considered a taboo and never mentioned or discussed – let alone “BTQI.” Nowadays – with social media, human rights campaigns, and anti-bullying initiatives – awareness, education, and support is growing more than ever. However, I know there is way more work to be done. Empathy isn’t something that can be taught overnight and acceptance of someone else’s personal choices will hopefully be a movement that grows with each generation.
So what is it like to be a parent to a gay child? Well, it’s the same as any parent – except with an added layer of fear that my child will be judged based on who she chooses to love rather than the strength of her character. I fear that she will be misunderstood, misjudged, and misestimated. The fear that physical and mental harm might come to her from those who have rigid expectations of male and female behaviors. Despite all those fears, I’d rather support and stand with my Sydney while she lives an authentic life rather than asking her to hide from the world. For me, the mantra from her birth drums on. “Just keep her alive. Just keep her alive.” And someday, when society matures, I hope that “this too shall pass.”
If you are a parent of an LGBTQI child feel free to check out these resources:
As we come to the end of June and Pride month draws to a close, we need to remember that Pride is a symbol of protest, activation, equality, and hope that lives 365 days a year.
Irene Taylor (she/her) is a true Scorpio and longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to raising her 16 year old daughter, she is a proud mom to 2 four legged rascals, Bella and Boba. She dreams of resuming her interest in kickboxing and pilates. Creative at heart, Irene graduated from high school knowing she wanted to work in entertainment.