Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
April 1, 2011
Family Circle: Do You Want to Host One?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
What Is It?
Family Circle is a program we have been trying to get off the ground for a while now. We are convinced that the concept is a good one it’s just that effective execution remains elusive. The concept is to gather a few API families together, say between six and twelve people, and over good food, Asian of course, discuss experiences how they dealt with the coming out of an LGBT family member. These must be experiences that led to acceptance and respect because our purpose is to collect them into workshop material so that we can take it to our community and help keep families together. Sort of like lessons learned and distilled into information that others can use.
We Thought That Is What It Was
Sometimes it is better to let something happen and adapt it to your purpose rather than trying to force the thing to happen by careful planning. And that is what we did. A couple of weekends ago, an Asian LGBT, let’s call him Ben, contacted us to say that his parents were coming from Asia to stay with him for two months. Although the parents stayed with him on previous occasions, he never told them he was gay. This time he wanted to tell them. Ben asked if we could help by putting him in contact with mandarin speaking parents to come and talk to his parents after he had come out to them. We called on our network, told them of his request and, of course, they would help. Some who responded were Asian LGBTs who wanted to share their experience coming out to their parents. Seeing this, Ben decided to invite them and us to dinner with him and his partner at their apartment before his parents came. We recognized this as a form of our Family Circle; help families stay together by sharing experiences of others so that, in this case, a gay man can prepare to tell his parents. For us that is key: helping to keep families together, and even though we originally conceived Family Circle primarily for families, especially parents, of LGBT children we saw this request as a variation of our original concept. We had that dinner in their apartment; six people were there, a seventh called and talked with Ben for a long time. Ben and his partner were fantastic hosts, the food was good, the conversation effortless. We talked, we offered the family experiences we already collected, we went off on illustrative tangents, and time flew without any of us being aware of time. It was all we wanted a Family Circle to be.
We Wish the Future Were Here Already
API Family Pride’s goal is to make itself obsolete. There will be a time when there is no stigma or shame attached to being LGBT, when sexual and gender diversity are seen as merely a different aspect of all diversity. Until then, though, it is heartbreaking to witness the difficult personal struggle of a loving and caring son trying to tell his parents who he is and share with them his partner of seven years. We wish we could be there in spirit and wave a wand to show the parents that the son who just now told them he was gay, is the same loving and devoted son he was two minutes ago before he told them. But maybe, they don’t need our wand and they will love him regardless. It has happened.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org