Author Archives: Ann Townsend

Love and Understanding, A Book Review and Parents of LGBT*

A Departure from Script by Rochelle Hollander Schwab, listened to on Audible.

Parts of this book were hard to sit through. It was well worth the experience, though. I say the following with love and understanding.

The journey of acceptance spoken of in this book is individualistic for each person, LGBT and each of their family members, particularly parents. Faith is an integral part of many people’s lives. The hopes and dreams (expectations) parents have for their children are filled with generations of traditions and values, regardless of where a parent or family member lands on the spiritual spectrum.

My mother is still mourning her expectations, but as I grow happier, she sees what was missing when none of us accepted me for me.

I’ve been an out lesbian for over 20 years. Despite that extent of time, only for the last six years have I fully accepted my orientation. My acceptance was a trigger for my parents. They realized finally that my happiness was hindered by my individual, yet parent-supported, parent-enabled, lack of acceptance. My support of LGBT youth in an effort to help them find acceptance of themselves by themselves sooner in life has put the issue in front of them so grandly and publicly that my parents are now having to come out as parents of a lesbian to their church friends. My parents are having to dig into themselves and their faith to figure out where their lines are drawn, which of those lines are based in bigotry and not faith, and which lines need to be erased based on their understanding of their spiritual truths.

Faith is their main concern, but it’s not their only concern. My mother finally broke through some of her pain to admit that, though she never tried to “gender-police” me, she still had hoped and dreams (again, expectations) that I would find a man secure enough in himself to accept my own strength and strong personality, grandchildren, and for wanted me to be happy. She knew I was different “from other girls” my entire life, but she was afraid I would experience hardship if I couldn’t love a man. “The world can be harsh. You’re dating pool is smaller. I don’t want you hurt physically, emotionally, or to be alone for the rest of your life!” These same concerns are why I took until I was in my early 20s to come out and another 15 or so years to find self-acceptance. After years of open, honest communication, we’re all healing. I hope other parents can use their love to find understanding.

Some LGBT might agree about the lack of coverage in the middle with Sheila and Naomi. After their friendship’s course, I still think Sheila’s missing some understanding. I won’t ruin it for you, though. Friendships are full of a maintenance requirement. Maybe some day they’ll be able to discuss the possible lack of understanding.