Last week I received a message telling me I should “stay in my lane” and “stop stealing your child’s story.”
Needless to say I was quite taken aback and initially took the words to heart, re-reading my writings from this lens. As I read, I realized that what you are reading is not my child’s story. It is my story, my lived experiences. And my story is important.
This does not negate that my child has a story. Or that his story is not important. I celebrate every time he shares a bit more of his story and look forward to the change his story will make in this world. Because we all have our own interpretations of the world, we will all have a unique perspective which includes myself and both of my sons. While I may share events that involve my child (or children), they are always written from my own perspective unless I ask my sons for theirs and credit that to them. I am not seeking to take space from the LGBTQIA+ population but to support them by supporting those who will potentially learn a new way of raising and loving them through my voice.
As parents, we often downplay our experience of the events in our child’s lives, particularly when they involve negative emotions. We avoid processing the hurt we may experience because of a belief that we shouldn’t be having a particular feeling or that whatever is occurring belongs to someone else. We believe we should keep negative emotion to ourselves, bottled away so others aren’t uncomfortable or burdened. We are told to “accept your children and move on,” without being allowed the space we need to feel our way through our own fears, confusion and loneliness.
We were not created to be in this experience of life alone. Yet somehow we believe we shouldn’t share our authentic lived experience, one full of challenges, hurt and disappointments as well as the joys, triumphs and miracles. Those unique circumstances, thoughts and feelings are yours, the you that was created for this life.
Your experience never belongs to someone else. You are feeling exactly the way you should be. If it is something you want to feel differently about, we can work on that, but it does not mean the feeling should not be there. Nor that it should be kept hidden because someone else disagrees with any part of it.
Your story matters.
For the LGBTQIA+ parent, this is so important. While our child’s coming out does not belong to us, our own coming out does. Of course it needs to be done respectfully and safely with our child, but we will still have our own unique experience with it. Our own journey through supporting someone else as well as ourselves is our own. This is our lane and part of our own story.
When we avoid parts of our story we miss valuable opportunities to make an impact on the world. While I am just one person with one life story to share, I have impacted hundreds of others to create change within their lives. We never know who is waiting for the moment of solidarity that may come from our vulnerability. Admitting my shortcomings and the unlearning of my socialized transphobia allows others to also acknowledge their own challenges and find hope in the lifetime of growth we are on together.
I am a full generation behind my child in my learning about diversity of gender and sexuality. My exposure to the LGBTQIA+ community and the diversity within it lags behind his. I don’t have to live justifying my gender to my parent, my friends, my co-workers. I don’t watch hate groups lobbying to deny me human rights. No one has ever denied the existence of me within my gender. But I do live watching a beautiful soul negotiate these things in his life. And it does have an impact on me and the course of my life.
This is my story. I have no control over how anyone else sees it or what they learn from it. This story is important.
You story is important. Your full experience of being a support for yourself and the LGBTQIA+ population is important. A marginalized population cannot make change on its own. We must own our role in becoming educated allies who are emotionally present and ready to support. To those who say it is not our lane, I offer a map to choose a different highway.