Throughout my struggle with my identity, whether it be with my sexuality or my gender identity, my mom has always stood by me. No matter how I have felt or how distraught I have been, she has always reassured me. I know it is hard for her. I know she is scared that I will be hurt physically, and she wants to protect me from whatever pain I might go through. It means so much to me to know I have that support in place when most people are not as lucky. So many of my friends have had bad experiences with their parents when it comes to accepting them as LGBTQ. After meeting a friend of mine the other night and hearing her story, my mom wrote this open letter to parents:
Why Can’t You Still Love Me?
Over 22 years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I dressed her in lace and ruffles, while dreaming of one day helping her find the perfect wedding dress. At night I would read her a story before bed. One of her favorites and mine was I’ll Love You Forever. It contained a song with the following lyrics: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” It expressed my feeling a parent should love their child unconditionally.
As she grew older, I knew she would never be the girly girl I had hoped for. I guessed she was gay long before she told me. She cried and wanted to know if I would still love her. Were my dreams for her crushed? Of course, but as a mom, I told her I loved her no matter what. Was it difficult accepting her sexual orientation? You bet it was, but parents can’t expect their dreams to be the same as their child’s.
I saw in her eyes her desperate wish to be ‘normal’ and the struggle she’d been through in determining her need to finally admit to me she was a lesbian. It never occurred to me to withdraw my love. As a homosexual, her life was going to be extremely difficult. Some people would harm her for no other reason than their ignorance or prejudice. She needed my support.
Recently, she decided she really isn’t a lesbian, but a transgendered – a man trapped in a woman’s body. He has decided to change his name and begin transitioning. Again, I must support him if this change will finally make him happy. I can’t tell you how difficult calling him by his new name will be, but I’m determined to do so.
Through the years, I have met countless girls whose parents won’t accept their sexual orientation. The pain they feel is palpable. One child committed suicide, while others have no or very strained relationships with their parents. Face it, parents, your child’s homosexuality is not your fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It is not a choice. It isn’t an abomination. Your daughter is the same child you raised, sheltered, nurtured. It is the person needing your support and love now more than ever. Please don’t make their lives harder by making them think, “Why can’t you still love me?”
This letter made me cry. I have lost friends to suicide. I have listened to so many of my friends tell me stories of getting kicked out of their homes, losing the ability to continue in school without monetary support, and not being able to talk with their siblings because of their parents’ reaction. I don’t understand why people believe that who we are is a choice. Why would anyone choose to be hated? To be killed? To get to the point where it isn’t worth it to live anymore because it feels like you are all alone?
I wanted to share this letter for you all. Perhaps share it with your parents. Remember that there are others out there who experience the same thing and people like my mom, who has become another mother to many of my friends, who will stand up and support you no matter what. Just keep perservering.