when a child comes outI’m blessed to know many, many moms of LGBTQ kids whose first reaction when their child came out was not one of joy and immediate acceptance. I know moms whose reaction was that but this is not about them.

Many of these moms were raised in conservative, evangelical Christian homes and churches. They were taught all their lives that being gay or transgender was a sin against God. They believed that rhetoric. It was all they ever heard. Maybe they thought those of us who love and support our LGBTQ children were misguided or wackos. They got married, had children and raised a family.

Then one day one of their beloved children came to them and said those words they hoped they’d never hear, “Mom, I’m gay.” Some had an inkling, some knew but didn’t want it to be true and some were shocked. This was not what they wanted for their child.

One thing they knew for certain – they loved their child. And so they began to research, ask questions and look at the messages they’d heard all their lives. They read books, prayed, cried. They continued to love their child. I’ve heard more than one mom share how she prayed for God to change their child but instead, God changed them. God softened their hearts, allowing them to be led by the love they had for their child.

Some of these parents, moms and dads alike, are still on the journey. They haven’t “arrived” yet but they want to. They want to come to the place where they can be completely affirming. Many of these parents have already reached that place.

I used to have a lot of judgement around Christian parents who struggled to accept their LGBTQ child. Not something I’m proud of. Judgement was easy when I didn’t know anyone personally. As I’ve gotten to know these parents, all judgement vanished. OK, not all – I still have judgement for those parents who put religious doctrine above the love they have for their children. Maybe someday I will better understand where they are coming from. I hope so – judgement does me no good and it sure doesn’t harm them!

When I encounter a parent who is still struggling such as a mom I recently met who said “I will never accept this but I love my son.” I have a lot of compassion. I know she needs to be where she is until she can learn and grow. She knows she loves her son and that is the biggest thing for her right now. She is willing to learn, she is willing to read, she is willing to listen to other parents who have been where she is.

These parents are my heroes. Yes, I struggled some when my son came out but I did not have the religious beliefs that told me my son was evil. These parents have had to overcome beliefs I did not hold, lifelong beliefs. I’m so inspired by their love and devotion to their LGBTQ child. You can see these parents at PFLAG meetings, at Pride events, lobbying their congressmen for rights their child deserves. They are everywhere. You can recognize them by the love in their eyes and their hearts.