Updated: Oct 1
It’s not a great idea to start a new project in the middle of a global pandemic. Thankfully, we at Left Side Up are just crazy enough to try it! So on Saturday 26th of September we had our first meeting of Proud Parents. I’m glad we did.
There were 9 of us, representing 5 families. Ian and I knew two other people. The others hadn’t met before. We had no idea what was about to happen!
The dream was to create a safe, affirming and welcoming space for parents of LGBT+ children to support each other and, in turn, support our children. We hoped that maybe after getting to know each other for a few months we could feel secure enough to share our stories. In one morning, we ended up chatting freely over coffee, laughing together, crying together and sharing our joys, sorrows and frustrations. Strangers became friends.
Our families are all very different. Our experiences are all very different. There were, however, many things that resonated with all of us as we talked. All of us have felt isolated, afraid, misunderstood and judged. All of us felt that it would be expected that we would be embarrassed or ashamed by our children. All of us have been in some way excluded by family, friends and church. Yet all of us have realised that we are only feeling second hand versions of those experiences. We shared the pain of knowing that our children are now treated differently. They are seen as ‘an issue’ or a talking point. They have been labelled by a world obsessed with labels. And who they are is now deemed less than before.
When we advertised Proud Parents we were asked..’Why would you be proud?’
As we chatted on Saturday we could have answered that over and over. We discovered that just within the little group of us we had children with incredible gifts, talents and personalities. That’s why we’re proud! If we labelled our children, we would use very different labels to the ones they hear in the street.
If you know of anyone who would like to join us for our next meeting in late October, please let them know they can get in touch with us in confidence at Left Side Up.
June Carton is the founder of Proud Parents and treasurer of Left Side Up.