Back in the summer, our family watched the movie Love Simon together. The movie illustrates the challenges and struggles of being gay, particularly when someone else reveals this truth before you are ready. As a result, this movie can provide a meaningful springboard from which to talk about what it means to LGBT2Q2ia+.
A word about the acronym
Over the years our understanding of gender and sexuality has evolved. As a result, the acronym used to refer to the community of individuals who are not exclusively cisgender, heterosexual has also evolved. Here is a quick glossary of the terms to date:
Cisgender – refers to people who feel that the gender identified at birth accurately represents the gender they feel themselves to be now
LGBT – Lesbian (a sis gender female who romantically and sexually prefers females); Gay (a sis gender male who romantically and sexually prefers males); Bisexual (someone who romantically and sexually is open to relationships with either males or females); Transgender (the preferred term today identifying those who are not sis gender)
Q – Questioning (those who are unsure and continue to seek to understand their sexuality and gender)
2 – 2-Spirited is a modern, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North American communities to describe certain individuals in their communities who fulfill a traditional third gender ceremonial role
ia+ – Intersex (those whose characteristics do not fit with the binary norms for male and female); Asexual (those who are open to romantic relationships but a have little interest in sexual relationships); + (the recognition that these identities continue to evolve)
Switching the Norm (Back to Love Simon)
In one poignant scene in Love Simon, the protagonist asks why the default can’t be people ‘coming out’ as straight. Subsequently, the movie shows several of the characters ‘coming out’ to their parents and the reactions. The scene in done with a tone of humour highlighting how parents are unlikely to be disappointed that their child is straight. As a result, this reversal of the process helps to highlight how difficult it can be for those who are LGBT2Qia+ to admit to family and friends that who they are does not fit the norms of society.
October 11th is National Coming Out Day in Canada and the US. ‘Coming Out’ is the term used to describe the social acknowledgement of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In reality, ‘coming out’ is only necessary for those who don’t fit the expected norms of society. It is a very personal acknowledgement that one is different.
The consequences of ‘coming out’ can be hurtful. Acceptance of that difference is not guaranteed. It takes courage, hope and trust to share who we are with others particularly when who that is, is seen by some as wrong and sinful.
What can parents do?
Do you remember when your child was born? The first time you held that infant in your arms? Do you remember that overwhelming feeling of love for one so tiny and so helpless? A child coming out to their parents can be as vulnerable in that moment as they were when they were born. Our primary job as parents is to love our children. When faced with a child who is trying to articulate who they are, the love that we have for our child is what must remain front and centre. No matter who they are in regards to the sexuality and gender spectrum, they will always remain our children. They will always be that infant we cradled so tenderly. Keep that image at the front of your mind as you listen to your child telling their truth. Be prepared to hold them once again, and remind them that you love them and continue the journey from there.
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