Posted by: minnow | January 2, 2015

Apology

I thought I had a good reaction when my son finally came out.  He was nearly 20 and I accepted him.  But the reality is he felt afraid enough around me that he tried to deny himself for years prior to coming out.  He  didn’t feel safe sharing who he was.  He heard things in our home that caused him to think we might not love him if we knew his secret.  He heard things in our fellowship that caused him to think God couldn’t love him and we might choose God over him.  He spent his teen years trying to choose God over himself.  When he could not deny himself any longer he made a plan to get away from the lie he was living, to find out if he could love himself even if everyone else in his life rejected him.  He told us the truth expecting to be rejected.

In spite of the media attention, the recent suicide of Leelah Alcorn–statistically–isn’t the most recent death of a teen whose struggle to belong, be loved, or find hope ended tragically.  Leelah died several days ago; on average one 10 to 24 year old successfully commits suicide every two hours. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts and trans teens are at the high end of that statistic. You see, even though straight people throw LGBT people in one big group–lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people don’t see themselves as having all that much in common. Life can get unbearably lonely. It did so for Leelah.  It did so for my son.  My son moved out.  Leelah walked in front of a truck.

So, if Leelah isn’t the most recent then why has she become the poster child for Trans advocacy? (And to a slightly lesser extent for LGBT teen advocacy)?  Because the time is right.  It’s been right.  We’ve needed a poster child.  Leelah wanted her death to matter.  Social media is flooded with people trying to make that happen.  Some are comparing her to Matthew Shepard.  And, while it can be argued that the crime against Matthew Shepard was much more horrific than how Leelah was treated, the point is both Matthew and Leelah were too young to die.  Society SHOULD have been a safer place for them.  And, in order to help society become a safer place we want to remind one another of their innocence, of the innocence of those like them–those we can still protect.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can we keep that goal in mind as we move forward.  Absolutely, speak out against the hateful hurtful WRONG messages put out by religious organizations.  Contradict and contradict loudly the voices of those who claim to be speaking for the Christian Church but who use rhetoric that could never have come from the lips of Jesus.  But, as you lift your voices to advocate for those who have been hurt and misunderstood and marginalized remember to muster all the self control you can muster lest you become the voice of hate we so desperately need to silence.  We do not bring about peace by dropping bombs; nor can we silence hatred by spewing hate.

Leelah Alcorn’s parents are mourning the loss of their son, Joshua, because they did not know their daughter, Leelah.  How dare we, in our self righteous anger, deny them their loss!  Leelah’s death is tragic.  But, two of the most tragic figures in this whole mess are her parents.  They have been vilified by the more enlightened among us.  Their love for their child has been mocked and called into question.  Because we on the outside don’t know what it’s like to be them on the inside we think we have the right to cast judgement.  Yet, what is it that we think we are doing that makes our actions toward them so very different from their actions toward their child?

I belong to private FB page for mom’s of children who identify as part of the LGBT community.  The requirements for being part of this group are to love God and love our LGBT identifying child(ren).  We don’t have to be at a specific place in our journey.  Our questions are welcome.  Our struggles are welcome.  Our opinions are welcome.  Our pain is welcome.  As we seek to keep loving God and loving our kids we sometimes put our foot in our mouths and sometimes shock one another BUT we withhold judgement.  As a result, most of us are traveling down the road toward greater and greater acceptance of who God created our children to be. As a result most of us are learning how to truly love our neighbors and ourselves.  As a result many have been able to cast off the religious bondage we did not even realize we had come under.

One of the founders of our group lost her son to a drug overdose.  He got involved with drugs initially because he felt rejected.  Even though his parents eventually embraced who he was, the battle with addiction he ultimately lost had already begun.  Not a day passes that this mom doesn’t mourn her son.  The blame others cast on her out of their own fear, pain, ignorance, and self-righteousness can’t begin to match that which she casts on herself.  Yet, without this very real tragedy our group of moms might never have come together and over 300 women might not have found the courage to keep loving their children in spite of opposition from family, friends, society, or the Church.

Blaming Leelah’s parents for her death is pretty easy. Pointing fingers and make accusations against them doesn’t take much out of our day.  But Leelah didn’t ask us to condemn her parents for her, to practice hate by making their lives a living hell.  Enough pain has already come from this tragedy.  We don’t need more.  A dozen teens commit suicide every day–one dozen.  Instead of wasting time playing the blame game, let the dead bury the dead and let us figure out how to be a difference for the living.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for writing this.

    To any moms of lgbt kids who are reading this … if you would like to join the private facebook group for moms of lgbt kids please contact me at lizdyer55@gmail.com.

    Here is a link to some info about one of the Facebook groups that minnow is referring to (we now have over 300 moms in the group):

    http://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/serendipitydodah-for-moms/

  2. This is so well written Meg! I love your words. One of my number one goals as a mama is to be a safe place for my kids…..and for me to care more about my kids’ needs than anything else. If I’m honest I worry about what others think more than I should. I also find myself thinking…..if I was the mom I would of…..how dare I! Man this life is a beautiful mess of learning big things. Cheers!


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