Archive for September 2011
By now most of America has heard that Chaz Bono, the son of Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” This has been deemed a controversial move for the show as Chaz has transitioned so that the outside of his body reflects the gender that he knew he was on the inside. Click here for a definition of transgender or transsexual.
Sadly, and somewhat incredibly, there has been quite a bit of backlash about this casting choice. Some Americans have expressed disapproval of Chaz, simply because he is transgendered. Here at the Help Center, transgendered callers tell us that they hear many of the same criticisms in their day-to-day lives that Chaz is experiencing on a national scale. And although we are barely into the season, Chaz is handling the pressure with strength and dignity.
We at the Help Center applaud Chaz’s willingness to be public, and know that he is helping other trans youth and adults learn that they too can live their lives in a way that is healthy and honest for them. And oh yeah, we also admire his dance moves. Chaz is certainly his mother’s son!
If you are transgendered and want to discuss other’s reactions to your gender identity, call us, email us, or chat with us.
We previously discussed things to consider when coming out to one’s parents, but what if you’re the parent and you think your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered and want your child to come out to you? We receive calls from some parents who believe or even know that their children are gay, yet have not heard it first-hand from their kids. They sometimes experience feelings of hurt that their children might not trust them.
If this describes you, first of all congratulations for being receptive to the possibility of your child being something other than straight. We applaud that you want your child to feel free to be open about who he/she is.
It might be frustrating that your child hasn’t come out to you (if, indeed, he/she is GLBT), but please be patient. While your son or daughter’s GLBT status might be clear to you, keep in mind that it might not yet be clear to your son or daughter. Coming out is a very personal process, and your child may not be ready to face all of the feelings that come with it.
Here are some things you can do or say to ease the process for your child:
- Discuss current events that affect GLBT people. Give your positive opinion readily, and ask what your child thinks.
- Have conversations about any GLBT people you may personally know. Talk about their experiences with your child.
- Let your child know that your love is unconditional. You might even go through various scenarios of what your child could do or be and let him/her know that it wouldn’t change your feelings.
- If you feel your child is struggling and it’s a financial and/or scheduling possibility, arrange for counseling for your child. It’s less important that your child talk to you than that they talks to someone who lets your child know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is normal and okay. We can help you find a gay-affirming therapist in your area.
It really all boils down to patience, love and understanding, something that parents tend to have in spades. And if you want to talk, we’re here.
If you are living with your parents and/or are dependent upon their financial support, here are some things to consider if you are thinking about telling your parent(s)/guardian(s) that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered. But before going further, step back, take a deep breath, and congratulate yourself on wanting to do this. We know it’s not always easy, and we hope you give yourself the credit you deserve for thinking about such an important decision.
- Is there a potential for danger or abuse to you, physically or emotionally? Your safety is the most important concern.
- Are you in danger of being kicked out of your home? If yes, do you have an alternative place to stay? Have you asked how long you could stay with them? Is it a short term offer, or could you stay there for many months or even years?
- Have your parents made any comments about GLBT people that could give you an indication of how they will react?
- Go through the various ways you think they will react. How will you feel about the potential reactions? If you think they’ll react badly, do you think that the initial reaction will be lasting, or will things calm down? How will you be able to deal with that reaction?
- Is now a good time? Are there other factors at play that will affect reactions?
- For those with more than one parent/guardian, do you want to tell them together? Apart? Who should you tell first?
- How do you want to start the conversation? Do you want to preface the news by telling them you’re nervous of what they’ll think, or dive right in? Or do you want to write it down in a letter, and let them read it while you sit with them?
- Often, family members take their cue from you. If you start off by telling them, “I’ve got some news I know you’ll be upset about…” you might get a different reaction than if you started the conversation by saying, “I love you very much and want to share something about my life with you that I feel good about …”
This is not intended to dissuade anyone from coming out, but merely to make sure that all things have been considered in this decision. We find that most GLBT people have a pretty good idea of how their parents will react, but it’s good to think through one’s approach.
Coming out to one’s family can be a big moment, and even if parents have a negative reaction that is not extreme (i.e. abuse or kicking the GLBT person out), many newly-out people find that there is a sense of relief that comes with not having to hide such a large aspect of themselves.
If you do decide to speak with them, give us a call afterwards. We’re here to offer you support.
We get lots of calls and chats from bi folks. And there’s still a lot of misinformation out there. Those who are bisexual have the wonderful gift of being physically and/or emotionally attracted to both women and men, simply depending on the person. It’s a sexual orientation just like heterosexuality or homosexuality, and is just as normal. Bisexuality has appeared throughout history, in humans as well as animals, and is a recognized sexual orientation by all reputable medical and psychiatric organizations.
It is a common misconception that bisexuality does not exist, and those who identify as bisexual often face discrimination from both the straight AND queer communities. They get told to “pick a side,” and can have additional issues finding long-term companionship due to the mis-guided idea that bisexuals are more likely to sexually stray.
These misconceptions about bisexuals are just that: Misconceptions. The bisexual callers we hear from on the hotline are striving to find themselves as well as love and companionship like those of any other sexual orientation. You can get in touch with us if you have questions, need to talk, or if you’d like us to see if we know of any local bisexual resources in your area.