Parents as Allies
It has been said that when gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children come out, their parents go in the closet. Part of this angst is borne from the misconception that having a GLBT child means that the parents must have done something wrong in how they raised the child. One way parents can overcome some of their negative feelings is by educating themselves about the issues and talking with other parents of GLBT children. Through groups such as Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays parents are able to realize that they aren’t the only ones and can move from reacting to the news to acting on behalf of their child.
Most parents, once they are more comfortable with their gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child, take their next step and come out to others. It may be when a family friend innocently asks when a son or daughter is "finally going to get married," or when a relative tells an anti-gay joke at the family reunion. Some parents stop their journey once they have come out to family, while others come out to everyone possible.
In a conversation with Betty DeGeneres, Jeff Ellis, a conservative Christian and father of a gay son, said he was motivated by an anti-gay column in his local paper. "I just couldn't stand it any more. I basically outed our family in the local paper and then wrote a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution."
Ellis and his wife, Patti, could be considered "super-allies," creating and maintaining a website for the parents of gays called Family Acceptance.
"Somehow I knew during those times that were so hard for us that there were parents out there who were struggling the same way we were and keeping silent about it," said Patti Ellis. "But I knew that if I could ever get through this and find my way to the other side, I would try to do something for parents who were like us. Parents who weren't ready to go to PFLAG but needed some answers, needed some comfort."