Bringing a child into the world is a joyous occasion. It’s a time most parents regard as one of the most exciting experiences of their lives. While nothing is more rewarding than the bond shared by a parent and a child, the rift that sometimes occurs when a parent discovers their child is gay can be tragic.
One of black America’s dirty secrets is the number of LGBT individuals who are estranged from their families. In most cases, the person was respected and loved until their sexuality was unveiled. These were the same children that the parents once cherished but, as they developed opinions of their own, they found themselves alienated because of their sexual orientation.
Accepting a child’s alternative lifestyle isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary. The classic poem Children by Khalil Gibran states, “Our children come through us but not from us.” It shows that parents are a vessel for their children who are entitled to grow up with their own standards.
An important passage from this poem is, “You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.” Parents must let their children follow their own voice and support them. Parents have a responsibility to instill morals in their children from an ethical stance. The problem is the strife that usually results when they impose their beliefs for the sake of their own personal convictions.
Many parents struggle with the concept of unconditional love as it relates to their children’s sexuality. It’s imperative for parents to embrace their children no matter what but how do they handle issues that they may not understand? They must first support their children whether they agree or not. Self esteem relies on parents’ input and must be a top priority for anyone looking to raise well-balanced children.
Bombarding children with negative comments about sexuality can also facilitate bullying. These comments teach our youth that ostracizing others because of sexuality is acceptable.
It’s no secret that instances of gay and lesbian bullying are on the rise. The Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, states gay and lesbian youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their peers. The report also indicates that 30 percent of all completed youth suicides are related to sexual identity.
Another good resource is my book, Sexual Orientation and Its Impact on Schools, which was written to help parents and educators understand the horror that LGBT kids go through.
As a father of three adult children, one of my biggest accomplishments is seeing each of them graduate from college. If any of my children had told me they were gay, I would have been there for them, and they still would have had the same love and support from me. “Being a black gay father does not define me as a father” is what I told Oprah in October on my second visit to her show. As a gay father, I want other gay fathers to come together and start a support group for LGBT youth who don’t have father figures.
This is JL King … always keeping it real!
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