As we mature and grow into adulthood, we are encouraged by our parents to follow in their footsteps and also take on the responsibility to have children. We are well aware that parents look forward to the day when they will experience the joy of being grandparents and, as well, be assured that the family name and history continues. There are those parents who will push the issue, encouraging the process, regardless whether their offspring wish to have children.
Many reasons exist for some folks not to have children; they feel perhaps they will be limited in their future professions. Then, many realize that if they are gay, the likelihood of becoming parents may be limited and the push is on. “Oh mom and dad, I have something to tell you. I am gay and I may not become a parent, therefore, no grandchildren for you, at least not from me.”
The news is shocking to some moms and dads, perhaps not realizing their child is gay, or some if they are aware push the child to find a mate of the opposite sex and simply ignore one’s sexual orientation.
When we come into this world, unaware of what lies ahead, we learn soon enough how the road to acceptance by one’s family will affect family connectedness. Sadly, the facts state that this problem is common, even in 2018. Statistics show that many teens continue to be rejected by parents, siblings and other family members. The results may be drastic as suicides remain a dominant issue among gays and second to Indigenous deaths as cause of death. Family support is crucial, and will prevent drastic measures and save lives.
We also are very aware of the bullying in our schools, churches and the workplace. This reality affects the well-being of a gay person, and extends to all LGBTQ2 individuals. Revealing to family members that one is in a body that is completely against their nature, may be a received with disappointment, and even anger. To be ousted from the family is a distinct possibility.
So, how does rejection affect those who are ejected from their families? Many need professional help, and others simply look for a friend or family member to lend an ear and just listen. Families must take responsibility and take the child’s true feelings into consideration and not dwell on a notion that someday the problem will disappear. They must face the fact that their child’s “condition” is not a problem, but a natural human existence. The problem is strictly attached to the family member/members, who should seek help in solving the sometimes agonizing problem associated with LGBTQ2 acceptance.
For many parents, or other family members and indeed “friends” lacking civility towards a child who identifies as gay, transgender, or any other identity, this can be traumatic as well, and may turn into a deep-seated lifetime torment. Most of us long to be in a family where we are all treated with love and respect, and have an existence that that is lived in harmony with all others and is unconditional. A solution is difficult to obtain as this is a type of family discrimination that may have dire consequences. Statistics are stunning in content. Families are torn apart by all sorts of condemnation that parents are dishing out, which in most cases is of religious-belief origin.
From generation to generation, the influence has been ingrained in people and that must stop if change is to succeed. We question and we delve into the whys and the wherefores, but hit a stone wall with many family members. Love, respect and embrace are imperative. Strive for family support.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.