Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
May 27, 2011
How Useful Are LGBT Workshops To Dispel Fear and Loneliness?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Belinda was part of 90-minute workshop at the 4th Annual Pilipino Youth Leadership Conference at Stanford. She conducted the second 45-minute half on coming out and parents acceptance. The first half, lead by a gay Pilipino, presented statements about LGBT and asked participants to react to them in writing on large sheets of butcher paper. For example, write what you think of: “Filipino culture is accepting of LGBT people.” The workshop atttendees were highschool and undergrate students, both gay and straight. Afterward we poured over the butcher paper to examine the comments.
We Have Seen And Heard A Lot, But There Are Still Surprises
We have done many of these workshops and plan on doing many more. We are familiar with the statements to express the fear of coming out. We are familiar with what LGBTs believe their families’ reaction will be. Still, there are always surprises. A young straight Pinay whose mother came out as a lesbian worried how to protect her mother who would surely be ridiculed and harassed. The same sort of anxiety a mother has when her daughter comes out. Another person wrote: “one person’s identity = the family’s identity.” We had never seen that so simply but elegantly put, although we do know that family is central for all API cultures and the smallest unit of social analysis. We read a statement in gorgeous block print: “Bringing shame to family name.” We wondered whether that is the same as bringing shame to family; ‘family name’ seems to connote past and future generations. Another common anxiety is that once an LGBT comes out, people will regard him or her in only one dimension: he is gay, she is lesbian, as if that is all there is. Of course, there is the stereotyping that comes with that label and we saw written: “Stereotype of LGBT people in the media.
With All The Progress Achieved, On A Personal Level Things Are Still The Same
One statement in the first half of the workshop asked what it means to be a queer Pilipino. One person wrote: “embarrassment, confusion, frustration, anger, fear, lonely, lost, run away?” Another added: “Loss of community, loss of friends.” After all this time, after all the progress made on legal and religious fronts, after all the visibility gained—we read that 53% of the American people favor same sex marriage—on a personal level, API LGBTs still express the same anxiety as when API Family Pride first started almost twenty years ago. Nothing can be more frustrating. We read a lot of stories, not just those from our workshops. We read of a mother’s worry that her gay son would be the victim of “friendly fire” when he joined the army. We read of a boy in Brooklyn who was the victim of a homophobic beating. He said he knew it would happen again and again and was life worth all that pain and fear; why not end it? His friends got him out of those dark thoughts. But the thoughts still happen.
We Need Help and Ideas
Our friend Mark Molina posted “Pink Dot 2011: Support the Freedom to Love—18 June 2011” on our Facebook group page. Check it out, see what you can do, and help us come up with more ideas to eliminate the fear and loneliness. We sorely need them.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org