Last week I posted a video on Instagram asking for questions for #AskAidan segment and about half the the questions were asking me how to deal with homophobic parents. Most of the questions I was getting were from folks whom while their parents disapproved of the LGBT, they weren’t necessarily EXTREME (like send you to gay to straight conversion therapy extreme, or chain you up by the bedpost extreme) so I will be addressing the people with homophobic but non-extreme parents.
I have to say that this is a topic I am very familiar with. I was raised in a very conservative and traditionally Korean household. I remember one time I had to go to church where the preacher gave a sermon equating gay people to dogs. The preacher said that since the Korean word “GAE” ,which means DOG, kind of sounds like “GAY” he reasoned that gay people were no better than dogs. What a bitch right? I was dragged to that church every week! “Drag me to Hell” indeed.
When I first came out to my mother our relationship became extremely awkward but you know what? She accepted me. Even though it took a few years for her to comearound! She even went as far as to look for a new more LGBT friendly baptist church! (Who knew those existed)? This isn’t an isolated incident… Many of my personal friends who have had parents who were homophobic report that their parents did eventually come around. Many have dinner together, share the holidays with one another and have many family gatherings!
I grew up in the 90s, an era BEFORE THE INTERNET (can you imagine?) A time with a lot of very negative attitudes against the LGBT community. Fact: Did you know that in 1996 that 65% of people polled by the Pew Research Center opposed gay marriage? That means that there has been tremendous progress in attitudes towards gay people so there is hope for us all yet!
I DO NOT advocate for dealing with homophobic parents the way one might see in movies (in a dramatic way where you say “IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME YOU WON’T BE IN MY LIFE” slam the door and walk out in a flurry). It’s real life people, be realistic. I also don’t advocate you try to arm wrestle them into submission by trying to convince them that they’re wrong. There is actually a study that says trying to prove someone wrong makes them double down on their point of view, and that is not going to help anyone. They will more than likely spout some Fox News rhetoric #FAKENEWS!
With all that background HERE IS MY ADVICE. If you’re over 18 and not dependent on your parents I suggest you go and live your life. Create a family and community for yourself! The fact of the matter is that your parents will most likely come around (maybe not as quickly as you would like or in the way you would like) so it’s best to proceed with the creating your own life while you are waiting. Be the bigger person and let them know you love them and you are ready for them whenever. I don’t want you to let your parent’s homophobic attitudes to stand in the way of your having the fabulous life you deserve! I believe that the reason why LGBT people are so strong is that we are forced from a very young age to build our lives and shape our own destinies, where many people just continue on in the traditions handed to them. So being LGBT can be a very unique and wonderful thing! See it as an opportunity and not let negative attitudes from our loved ones get in the way of our good time in this fabulous journey.
If you are under 18 and are dependent on your parents I recommend to try to keep from rocking the boat as much as you can. This is probably contrary to the traditional advice you might see on social media. I have found that saying things that are righteous declarations tend to score well on social media. Things like… “Screw them you DO YOU NO MATTER WHAT” and “If they don’t understand you tell them off” may get you a lot of likes but it’s not very good advice for real life. Like…you still have to live at home! My advice would be to avoid unnecessary conflict if possible and let your parents come around in their own time. They WILL come around but it will only prolong the process of if you try to (pick another saying)arm-wrestle them into it. It also doesn’t help that you are under 18. You’ll probably hear something like “WHAT DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE A JUST A KID”. So yeah… don’t bother. Try to reason with them for a bit every once in a while in a cool headed environment. If they don’t take then just save your breath and let them come around on their own time.
BUT! (and this goes for you LGBT folks under AND over 18) I want all of you to DOUBLE DOWN on efforts to create your own community outside of the home. Join a club, talk to teachers, make other LGBT and LGBT friendly friends, join an online group, go to meetups, whatever you need to do to start creating your own community. There are even some great online communities you can join! I included some links to resources below, take a look at those and get in the habit of FLOURISHING.
Comments? Thoughts? More Questions? send me an email or send me a DM on Insta. Thanks Guys!
Matthew Shepard: https://www.matthewshepard.org/
No H8 Campaign: http://www.noh8campaign.com/