Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
July 20, 2012
Do We Really Need More Coming Out Information? Yes!
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
We’re at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Conference in Washington DC. We came to learn and maybe to contribute what we know.
Some Lessons Are Worth Relearning
One thing we learned again is that putting things in words cannot begin to describe the intense personal emotions parents experience when their child comes out to them. Words cannot describe the panic and doubt and grief that come with that revelation. For example, we have a workshop that explains why parents have a difficult time accepting their LGBT child: we give about four or five well researched reasons. None of those reasons comes close to describing how a parent feels when he or she first hears the news. Such is the emotion, that five, ten years after the experience, tears still flow at the memory of that first time.
We also have well researched reasons why children have such a difficult time to come out to their parents. Some children never do, but here at this conference we saw adult children get teary eyed and even cry because they want to tell their parents but cannot for their own personal reasons and the grief of their isolation is overwhelming.
Is There A Lack Of Information?
At the parents’ convening and the workshops we attended, we heard from both parents and LGBT children that there is a scandalous lack of information for parents to grapple with their new reality and a lack of information when children begin to make plans to come out to their parents. Can this be so? The web is full of stories and advice. It is scattered and you need to search for it, but it is there. We also know of at least four projects that collect stories to put on YouTube or make available on DVD. All four, however, are ethnic and culture specific. Maybe therein lies an answer: there is information, but it is not specific to a personal need and that seems to be necessary.
We did learn that there is a need for expert information; information provided by medical, psychological, legal, educational, or counseling professionals. It is needed to guide parents and their LGBT children along the steep learning curve. It is needed to validate what they learn along the way.
At the parents’ convening we agreed to a course of action: gather stories and expert reports, find a place to archive that information for easy and immediate access, organize all material along ethnic and culture guidelines, and provide links to other sources of information. We also have to establish a list of parents who traversed the learning curve and support and honor their LGBT children and are willing to talk to parents who are confused and in doubt.
Our Wall of Pride Is Here
We brought part of our Wall of Pride. We finally were able to make the Wall portable so that handling and air transportation cost are minimized and we can bring it with us whenever asked. Our Wall of Pride has become such a unique and powerful tool that we want to show it off and share with others the process to built one for their own communities. The Wall generated discussions; we are so proud.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org