The case for pride: a letter to the dad that is afraid for their child
Pride is a year long celebration for LGBTQ+ folks of all genders and ages. They, we, celebrate survival, love, connection and our authenticity.
Pride can also be a challenging time for individuals who may be coming to terms with who they are for the first time, challenging for those whose families are unsupportive, or for the parents who may not know how to show up for their child.
Not unlike many queer folks in my chosen family, I have a dad that was afraid for me when I came out as bisexual six years ago. His fear moved him to say hurtful things, and act in cruel ways because he couldn’t, didn’t, want to understand me. It’s because of his fear that I’m writing this letter now. I want the next dad who is afraid, and worried for their child and their safety, to stop here first before they make some terrible, cruel mistake, and lose a precious connection to their child.
In the name of love, please read this.
Dear dad who is afraid,
Everything you know about your child is still true. They are still funny, silly and ambitious. They are still mature and thoughtful and kind. Your child is whole, complete and important to the world, and especially to you.
You have the gift and privilege of having an amazingly queer child, they may not be sure where under the LGBTQ+ umbrella they stand, but knowing they have a place within this community is brave enough. And if they have shared this with you, that is a true testament to their trust and love in you as their dad.
You may know some myths about our community, and I hope you will consider that myths are often formed out of fear and ulterior motives. LGBTQ+ people are not more likely to get divorced, or lead unhappy lives. Queer families are not dangerous or harmful. Learning about the importance of identity and sexuality is not harmful, but helps children identify themselves and find safety in trusted adults and friends.
Among LGBTQ+ folks, we are not more likely to commit suicide generally speaking, but when a family member that is important to us, is unsupportive or rejects us, the likelihood for self-harm skyrockets. If you are afraid for your child because you are afraid they will come to harm, standing behind them, and beside them, can help to save their life when things get tough.
Families that support and love their children from the start create meaningful bonds. That love and acceptance will remain a core memory for your cool and goofy child. That acceptance will be a fond memory for them if they get married, or have children of their own. The pride they have in how amazing their dad is, and how supportive they are of their child will be a lifelong bragging right at every dinner party and event they attend.
You’re afraid now because of what you don’t know or understand. Maybe you don’t think you know any happy LGBTQ+ people. Maybe you’re afraid for your child’s happiness, their safety in the world. And you have every right to have that fear. But do not let that fear stop you from the importance of this moment. The urgency of this connection to your child, your relationship. Don’t let fear blind you into making hurtful mistakes or judgements. Ask, and seek to understand.
Be curious, and love boldly. Neither you, nor your child, need to know all the answers to know that your relationship is important. However your child has chosen to come out, to share their truth with you, should never impact your unconditional love for them.
You are a proud dad of an LGBTQ+ person, your child, and you should be proud — queer kids are a gift to the future and the present :)
Sending warm hugs,