Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
November 4, 2011
Is “I Still Love You But I Won’t Accept You Being LGBT” A Contradiction?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Contradiction Must Be Resolved
There is no such thing as a contradiction. Contradictions are in the eye of the beholder. When you think there is a contradiction and it bothers you enough, investigate and it will resolve itself and you will have learned something. It isn’t always easy, but the thought process is worth the effort. We thought of this while reading a “Coming Out” story on Gay Blog: Dark Q. A boy thinks he is gay, becomes certain that he is, comes out to friends while in high school, but only to his parents once he graduates from college and is independent of them. Here is the line that caught our eye: “My parents told me they’d love me the same, regardless of my sexual orientation, but they couldn’t agree with it.” This, to us, is an apparent contradiction that needs to be resolved.
One Way To Resolve This Contradiction
We have come across this before. In a seven minute film from Basic Rights Oregon titled: “Our Families: Featuring Asian and Pacific Islander Families” a Korean mother who accepts her gay son and loves him regardless says about her son being gay: “I really don’t want to accept this,” and a little later: “I still do not want to accept this now.” How is it possible to accept and love your child but not agreeing with who he or she is? The answer is in that last part of our question: they do not know, have not understood, that having an LGBT child is part of his or her identity. They believe it is something you choose. In the same film a Philippina mother asks her lesbian daughter why she would choose such a difficult life.
If our explanation is correct and resolves the contradiction, then the path to understanding is clear: find a way to make parents (and everybody else) understand that to be LGBT is not a choice, but a part of being.
There May Be Another Explanation
There is another explanation. It could be that the power of the cultural value APIs invest in family is so strong, that even though parents do not accept the LGBT part of their child’s identity, the family value prevents them from rejecting their child. The Philippina lesbian of “Our Families: Featuring Asian and Pacific Islander Families” believes that her mother’s strong belief in family eventually made her come to terms with who she was. And now that she herself is older and looks back from a more mature perspective, she believes that the strong value of family trumps all other cultural values.
The Korean mother said it best when she said that she truly believes that family is the most important value and that: . . . “you must accept your children. If you don’t do that, these kids have no place to go. They cannot live.”
Regardless Of Explanations, There is Time To Teach
Coming out is difficult not just for the LGBT child who is coming out, but also for parents. Belinda famously said that when children come out, parents go into the closet. If parents initially do not accept “the lifestyle” but still accept their child, then there is time to teach, to make them understand what it means to be an LGBT son or daughter. It is what API Family Pride does, but it is also what the LGBT child must do. It is all about preserving and restoring family bonds. Teach your parents.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org