What is the difference between acceptance and support when you’re the parent of an LGBTQ child?difference between acceptance and support

Merriam-Webster defines acceptance as:

  1. the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable
  2. the act of accepting something or someone

Support is defined this way:

  1. to promote the interests or cause of
  2. to uphold or defend as valid or right :advocate

As the parent of an LGBTQ child, we often strive for acceptance. When the news that your child is LGBTQ comes as a shock and sends you reeling, acceptance is a good thing to strive for. But is it enough?

Acceptance for some could mean resigning yourself to having an LGBTQ child. “Okay, I accept that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.” Followed sometimes by “but I don’t have to like it.” Some parents who are there just don’t want to talk about it. They tell their kids they love them but… But don’t bring a love interest home, don’t talk about what you are doing or with whom, don’t tell anyone. Let’s just pretend you’re “normal.” What kind of a message does that send? That is not really acceptance though, is it?

Acceptance is important but it is not enough. Support is the next level. Support, as it says, “is to promote the interests of.” That means that you stand up for your child and their interests. It may mean advocating for them at school, with other parents, with your own family. For some it means losing their family of origin if they are not accepting and supportive. It means helping them get services they may need. It can mean taking them to doctor’s appointments, helping them administer medication if necessary, buying them the clothing they feel fits who they are, taking them to cut or style their hair in a way that matches their gender identity. It means using their chosen name and pronouns.

After support there is celebration. Most of us get there and it can take some time. For me, celebration means being fully out as the parent of an LGBTQ child. It means making the fact that he’s gay as normal as it is. It’s not hiding the fact that he has a husband, not a wife. It means marching in parades. It means advocating for LGBTQ kids who may not have anyone else to advocate for them.

So, where are you? Are you accepting? Supporting? Advocating? Celebrating? Share in the comments below.