PFLAG Moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, temperaments and advocacy styles. One of my all-time favorite PFLAG Moms, Lisa, has a personality and advocacy style that are quiet, gentle, kind and steady.
She’s an elementary school teacher near our home in Orange County where she runs a gender expansive classroom. Better than gender neutral environments, gender expansive environments affirm all children no matter then gender identity or gender expression and allow them to express their interests, find confidence in their strengths and expand their conventional understanding of gender.
PFLAG Mom Lisa helped me create the “Tips for Educators” found in the back of my book and which I use when I speak to youth serving professionals.
Following is a letter she wrote to our local PFLAG chapter. The letter shows Lisa’s spirit, her way of educating and that every voice can be powerful no matter its volume.
“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank
I love those quizzes on Facebook. You know the ones… you answer a series of random questions and it gives you your flower, the personality you most embody, your spirit animal, etc.
For the record, I’m a sunflower, lawful good, and my spirit animal is a buffalo. They tell me what I already know about myself. I’m somewhat reserved, not a mover or a shaker, but passionate about justice, and a peacemaker. Sometimes, I wonder how to reconcile my rather sedate personality with the need to be an activist for the cause of LGBTQ equality.
Last week in the teacher’s lounge I sat with my colleagues having our leisurely 25-minute lunch break. We were talking, as we often do, about our children and what they are doing. I mentioned that my son and his boyfriend had just gone to Catalina and had a great time. A couple of my colleagues visibly twitched at the phrase “my son and his boyfriend.” One of them said that she had trouble with the whole “gay thing” because she was a Christian. I mentioned that I was Christian too. She asked respectfully, “What kind of Christian are you?” I replied, “The good kind!,” we all laughed, and that was that. There was a quiet understanding that maybe Christianity has a broader definition. There have been other conversations, and there will be more.
Each of us, living our lives and sharing our daily experiences with others, taking advantage of those “teachable moments,” is quietly making a difference. We’re helping others understand that we, and our loved ones, are not necessarily who they think we are.
Don’t get me wrong. We do need equality activism. We need strong and aggressive attorneys to fight for the civil rights of our LGBTQ loved ones in the classroom, in the workplace, on the athletic fields, and elsewhere. We need Pride Parades and rallies. But, we also need the gentle activist. It’s all necessary and important.
I know there will be many other conversations, but even that brief conversation gave my friend and other colleagues some food for thought. Living our lives without shame and having open conversations without filtering them is one way to open hearts and minds.
I’ll be marching in the Pride Parades for years to come. I’ll be walking at the AIDS Walks. But, I’ll also continue to have lunch with my colleagues and chat about both of my kids, because it’s a good way to spend 25 minutes and begin to change the world.
I may not be a rose and my spirit animal is not a lion, but I’ll embrace my inner sunflower and know that quietly proud can sometimes get the job done.
PFLAG Mom Lisa
“The good kind!” What a perfect response!
Yes Lisa is amazing and loved her letter!! Thanks for sharing it with all!
Love this quote:
“Living our lives without shame and having open conversations without filtering them is one way to open hearts and minds.”
I’m a loud mouth so I often have a harder time keeping my mouth shut. But the truth is courage doesn’t always roar.
Thank you, sometimes it is hard to feel that we are “enough”. As a parent to minors, I often debate whether I should be louder in my presence, but my desire to retain my children’s privacy (at least at this time), thus far carries the day.
He’s still so young though. Heck, Jeremy’s 17 years old and I still try my hardest to give him privacy, unless he specifically asks me to speak up (like when he asked me to talk to his teacher about teaching pronouns). Can’t say I succeeded but I did speak up I will stand up more generically though.
A lovely piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it.
I am the mom of a trans boy, 19. He is having top surgery next week. I cry when I stop to think about it. We are doing it so right, with a great team of surgeons. I am not too worried about the surgery, I know he will come through it fine, and I believe it will greatly help him to find some peace with this whole gender thing? Problem? What? What do I *label it?
Anyway I cry, because as a mom it’s hard to think of the suffering he will go through to finally feel more comfortable in his own body. Please don’t misunderstand – I completely support him. But still I cry.
It was nice to receive your email today and click my way here. I have enjoyed your column for a long time. Thank you. I am a quiet activist. But I can roar when I need to.
I don’t have advice for you, just wanted to thank you for your candor. My daughter (FTM) is not quite six and I cry about the struggles/suffering she will face as she grows older. I don’t think it ever gets easier to watch our kids suffer to be true to themselves…and I say that with 14 less years experience than you.
I’m a loud activist but I work best from the background and sidelines too. We need to make changes BIG, big, and small all at once for anything substantial to occur.
Thank you for sharing Lisa’s story because it helps me feel a sense of validation but most importantly a sense of connection.
It has always confused me, this Christian reluctance and reconciling their views on gays. To be a Christian means to follow Christ, and his story is the new testament. I find no real references in that book regarding homosexuality much less being discriminatory of them. In fact, christ taught to love your neighbors as theyself, so I’m not getting whete this is teally coming from.
The pentateuch was and is the Jewish bible, and even there is a scant 6 or so verses out of millions that are in debate as to what they really meant. So therefore even the pentateuch writers were not all that concerned about same gender love. So even if you account for the teachings of christ originally preceeding his other thoughts as a jew, in reality same sex relationships couldn’t possibly have influenced his teachings or his views.
So that’s why I’m really confused by “Christian” comments and belief on this subject.
Statistically, most people don’t “dig” into their own history, be it religious, world, u.s., etc. These types of people often don’t think to question or delve into the nitty gritty of their belief systems or what they’ve been told. This plays out the most drastically with religion/spirituality and U.S./world history.
Fair enough. But that must mean that by default, I am not educated about the subject I espouse to promote as real truth. Ergo, I am…..