|This letter was sent to the Forum Editor on 21 April 2009.
Dear ST Forum Editor,
We at SAFE, read with sadness, the recents reports on the events at AWARE that reinforce the homophobia that exists in our society.
Myths can be powerful in their control over our lives. The myth of the heterosexual family as it is spun in culture and society, excludes many people, specifically the families of gays and lesbians.
At SAFE, our attempt to listen to and understand the stories of parents and siblings who tell us what it like to discover that their child, brother or sister is homosexual, has pointed us to the dangers of this powerful myth.
The belief that only heterosexuals who are married and have children are "normal" and happy, encourages us to rear our families with these same expectations. This works fine for most people, but those who deviate from this majority are condemned as "abnormal" or "flawed" -- the common labels we use on homosexual people.
Parents of a gay child in turn regard the "flaw" in their child as shortcomings in themselves. For to be the "perfect parent" is to have a "perfect child", who should of course, be heterosexual. This "flaw" is nothing but the absence of heterosexuality in their child. How then are parents to transcend this conviction that their child's homosexuality is a "flaw" amidst a society that stigmatises and shames gay people?
Ar SAFE we have discovered that the key to success has to do with parents realising that that their love for their child is indeed, unconditional. It is a love at all costs, a love that nourishes the wholeness of our children. On the other hand, the sense of conditional love makes a child hide that part of her/himself believed to be unlovable, disclosing only the lovable parts, resulting in many years of hiding, dishonesty and fear of rejection.
The heterosexual family myth becomes that barrier to real and loving relations between parents and their gay and lesbian children, who simply cannot fulfil society's expectations and as a consequence, the whole family feels shame, fear and failure, and exile from the larger community. This myth of course, similarly applies to heterosexuals who choose not to marry, or have children, those who are divorced, single parents, blended families and so on.
SAFE strives for the day when society can break down this myth and confront the negative stereotypes attributed to gays and lesbians by the dominant culture. It starts with each of us - parent, sister, uncle, friend, colleague - to confront our own attitudes that have fed the dominant culture. Only till then can we claim to be truly pro-family, standing up for honest, strong and whole family relationships.
Supporting, Affirming & Empowering
our lgbtQ friends and family