Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Videos

We’re Hopping Against Homophobia And Transphobia, And Giving Away Goodies Too!

Hi, everyone, and thanks so much for visiting The Novel Approach during this year’s Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and Bruce and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be participating in this event. It is our belief that this community-wide effort—and I’m not speaking solely about the LGBT community, but also about those of us who are proud to be allied and in partnership with the men and women of the community—is an integral part of illuminating the ways in which we share so many more commonalities than we do differences.

The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network reported in its 2011 National School Climate Survey that eight out of ten LGBT students experienced verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation. But, among the key findings, “for the first time (in over a decade) the 2011 survey shows a significant decrease in victimization based on sexual orientation.” That’s heartening news and definitely a step in the right direction, but there’s still so far to go, so much misperception to be overcome, and so much more educating we can do, especially with our children.

When we decided to participate in the Hop, I’d just read This Article about Lucy Meadows, a transgendered teacher in England who’d committed suicide after the media took hold of and then ran with the story that she was transitioning, mid school year, from male to female; something, by the way, her school administrators fully supported her in. As you can see in the article, Lucy’s story ended tragically, but her death, though heartbreaking, has gone on to become a spotlight on transphobia and the ways in which she was so woefully misunderstood.

Lucy’s story is but one example of the many ways transgendered men and women, boys and girls, are marginalized every day, as is the case with Isaak Wolfe, a Pennsylvania high school student who made news, first for being denied the right to be added to his school’s Prom King ballot, then by being denied the right to have his natural identity printed on his diploma.


Being parents ourselves, Bruce and I began discussing our own families and the ways in which we and our spouses are attempting to raise our children to see beyond labels, and how so many adults tend to complicate the things that children see so innocently and so simply. As you could see in the poem written by one of Miss Meadows’ students, after her death, the emotional scarring of her children—the argument that some of the parents hid behind in an effort to reinforce their own prejudices and assuage their own fears—would most likely never have materialized. At least not for 7-year-old Daisy Moreton, who saw a loving and caring adult making a difference–no more, no less. It seems this was all a case of panic and misinformation, and rather than treating the subject with the clear and common sense attention it demanded, rather than choosing respect and communication with their children, parents allowed a child’s misunderstanding of the situation to prevail over an open dialogue of all the ways Miss Meadows would be the exact same loving and caring teacher, and how being transgendered or gay or lesbian or bisexual or pansexual… is not a choice but is simply the way a person is made, though for some reason, there are many who choose to make it into something far more convoluted than it needs to be—primarily because there are those who can’t seem to take the sex component out of a person’s sexuality, which, to put a very fine point on it, diminishes all the other things these relationships are outside of the bedroom. 970349_373883192717800_746898477_n

So, I asked Bruce if he would share his personal story, the story that both he and his husband Jacob lived, attempting to first conform to what society expected of them, then finally finding each other and building their family upon a foundation of faith, and of love and respect, both for each other and for their children. My question to Bruce was simply this: How did you and Jacob break the news to your children and help them understand your relationship when you began dating seriously?

This is the answer he so graciously shared:

Wow, that is a very tough question! Thinking back to having to tell our kids about us and our homosexuality brings back some very strong memories. Jacob and I had both come out of the closet and gone through painful divorces. Jacob’s daughter was very young, so not really aware of what was happening. My children were in 1st and 4th grades. I remember having to sit down and tell my children that I had always been gay but that I thought I could make it go away. I had lied about who I was to myself and everyone around me. I had to explain to them that I loved them and their mother very much, but I needed to be honest with myself so that I could stop living the lie and be happy.

With that conversation, also came the conversation about what being gay meant. My children were distraught about the dissolution of their family and of their parents’ marriage, but oddly enough took the whole gay thing in stride. We noticed very early on that the younger two really had no issue with the gay question with us, and often discussed it freely with their friends and teachers at school. I was fortunate that my son was at a school where it was not an issue. Unfortunately, at the time, Jacob’s daughter was at a school that, because she was so open about her daddies (it was just normal for her), she experienced not prejudice from her friends but from her teachers. We quickly moved her over to the same open-minded school that my two children were attending once we found this information out.

Bruce and JacobMy daughter, who is the oldest, at first was a little reserved about who she informed about the daddy situation, but oddly enough, as she got older she has become a very staunch and vocal supporter. We have had to counsel the children that in our conservative neck of the woods, it is best that they not hide their daddy’s situation but not openly volunteer information either. As my daughter progressed to a conservative Catholic high school, we have had to be careful to not be too public since we have felt that she could be removed from school for having two gay dads.

My son, who is in public high school, has also had to learn to censor himself to a degree from what he had experienced at his accepting Episcopal school. Though we have stressed to the children that there is nothing to be ashamed of, nor should we hide our family, Jacob and I have had to be protective of the kids. We have to let them judge and decide who they feel safe letting know about their two gay dads.

My son, unfortunately, has suffered the brunt of homophobia in the form of he has to be careful who he can invite, or not invite, to the house. His best friend was and is forbidden to visit our house. Jacob and I are very proud of our family, and even though we often feel like the only gay family in the village, we are proud to be seen with our normal, happy family. I think that is the best way that we have combated homophobia in our small conservative Texas town. We go about living our lives, and as a physician and college professor with three very active, involved children, we are anything but unseen. We go about our lives and show people that we eat out, we attend church, we attend recitals and soccer games. I think once others in town have seen that it’s really not a big deal, and that they have seen we really are no different than any other family, it has become no big deal in our community.

I guess when I think about homophobia, I go back to a quote I heard early on in my own coming out process. “The problem that people have about homosexuality is that they can’t stop imagining what happens behind closed doors.” That is the crux of homophobia, I believe. The homosexual act frightens them. When our children learned about homosexuality, they didn’t know about the sex. It was not an issue for them. They just knew they were now a part of a family with two men that loved and cared for them. I think that once others see that a homosexual family is no different than any other family, they then get beyond what’s going on behind closed doors and become accepting as well. It’s all about education and experience. Once their irrational fear is thrust in their faces, that Jacob and I aren’t parading around in rainbow Speedos and having sex in front of the children, they realize we are no different than any other family raising three children.

Thankfully our children are well-adjusted and happy children. Being part of a gay family has not destroyed their lives; instead, they are better off for it. We have three wonderful children who go to school, play sports, dance, go to summer camp, have friends over and live normal, successful lives. We are truly an American family and there has been no better weapon against homophobia than that, and that alone!

This opened up a broad range of discussion topics for us, a lot of them geared toward questions I had to think very long and very hard about, primarily because they were questions about how my husband and I are raising our kids in a socially liberal household, to be accepting of other people’s differences and to understand that we haven’t been put on this earth to judge but to show the compassion toward others that we want to have aimed at ourselves. We didn’t set out to consciously raise our kids to be tolerant free-thinkers—we didn’t bring our first-born home from the hospital and say, “Okay, these are the ground rules. Now, get out there and parent!” It’s just the way my husband and I are; instinctively, it’s the direction in which we’ve guided our kids because it’s the way we live, the way we believe; it’s the faith we have that love and kindness and empathy will always overcome hatred and intolerance, and that marriage equality in no way would diminish our own marriage or family, but would only serve to broaden and strengthen the definition of marriage as a whole, as well as family, love, and commitment.

The more Bruce and I talked, the more it became evident that his and Jacob’s three children are very much like my husband’s and my three kids, especially our oldest, both daughters, who are nothing less than champions of those who need support and friendship the most. We are, all of us, raising six children who we pray will be the difference-makers going forward. These six kids, and so many more like them, will be the generation that sets about affecting a broad-spectrum change in society’s views on homosexuality and transgenderism. History proves that prejudice will always be a factor in the way some people see others, but it’s also true that there is strength in numbers, and we are adding to that strength every day. We’re trying, along with so many other parents out there just like us, to foster a future of acceptance, with the hope that someday, we will be the norm rather than the exception.

Thank you again for visiting with us today! We hope you’ll leave a comment not only because you’ll be entered to win some great gear but because you’d like to share your stories with us about your own experiences. :)

**And now for the contest! For the duration of the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, May 17-27, 2013, we’re offering the chance for TWO lucky commenters to win their choice of gear (Up to $25 value per winner) at any one of the following sites:

NoH8
FCKH8
The Trevor Project
It Gets Better

All you have to do is leave a comment right here, along with your email address, before 11:59pm Pacific Time (2:59am Eastern), on May 27, 2013, and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

Prize drawing will be held on May 28, 2013 and the winner selected via Random.org. Please remember, an email address is necessary for us to be able to contact you!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and good luck!**



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52 thoughts on “We’re Hopping Against Homophobia And Transphobia, And Giving Away Goodies Too!

  1. Thank you Lisa and Bruce! I have a few tears this morning after reading your post, but they are happy tears. Proud tears! Thank you for making those six kids into champions. You’re both rock stars to me.

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    • ::smishes!:: Thanks for stopping by, Poppy! Bruce and Jacob are total rock stars, living every day as an example that the word family is defined by love and respect and not the gender of the two people who provide the foundation. <3

      Like

  2. Mandy says:

    Great post and thank you for sharing a part of your experience Bruce.
    I also have three children and my youngest is just a little different from others and the teasing and name calling started very early. That made me even more aware how important it is to instill understanding and tolerance to my other kids and family and friends is.
    Every child that is raised to just not care about all that stuff and just enjoy the people they meet, brings the end of all kinds of intolerance just a little bit closer.

    Like

    • Hugs, Mandy! It’s all about teaching empathy, isn’t it? That seems to be something that a lot of folks miss out on, maybe because they think empathy is an instinct rather than a learned behavior? I’m not sure, but whatever the reason, it’s an important part of the equation and needs to be brought back into the forefront of this transformation. :)

      Like

      • Mandy says:

        Exactly, empathy is probably stronger in some people than in others, but it still needs to be encouraged and lived.
        I am a huge believer in teaching by example as much as possible, if I say bad things about a person or group of people what are my kids to think?
        And really how easy is it to be the one on the ‘outs’ ? It is an every day job, not once, every day, just like getting them to wash their hands before they eat, I have said that 23372738 times and am sure to say it again today, the same with showing them how to treat others. Eventually something is gonna get through. :)

        Like

      • WordPress needs a “like” button. ::LIKE:: :)

        That’s so true. This disease has had thousands of years to fester. We just have to work all that much harder to be sure compassion doesn’t take as long to overcome it.

        Like

  3. Pingback: The Novel Approach is Hopping Against Homophobia And Transphobia, And Giving Away Goodies Too! | Rhys Ford

  4. Jackie McKenzie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. One thing you stated really hit home with me. “The problem that people have about homosexuality is that they can’t stop imagining what happens behind closed doors.” This is so true. My children are both in different places about what sex means. They are 12 and 7. When they talk to me about what it means to be gay, they both only identify with the LOVE part. They never ask about the sexual side. Maybe that is why kids are so much more accepting because they can leave that part out. I have tried to raise both of my girls to love everyone, and yes that includes the racist, homophobic and just all around jerks of the world. I have told them that we love everyone, sometimes that will be hard, but it has to be that way. We can’t fight hate with hate we have to fight it with love. I wish everyone could find that love in their heart.

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    • That is an absolute truth, Jackie. Kids understand love. It’s the adults that complicate the matter with the obsession over the sexual component. Thanks for sharing! :)

      Like

  5. What a wonderful interview. I’m lucky, I have 3 wonderful children who simply don’t care about gender or sexuality. People are people. We have always tried to teach them that.

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  6. jennysmum says:

    I’m lucky I live in a fairly tolerant area of the UK. My children have grown up knowing gay people and families with same sex parents, or even poly families. They accept people as people, either nice or not regardless of gender/sexuality or anything else.
    As Bruce said the way to fight intolerance is by example, to show people there is nothing to fear about a family that doesn’t look like yours.

    Like

  7. Solaria Saturn says:

    Lisa I loved what you said about being the difference makers and our children being the world changers. I have an acquired child (long story) My home is conservatively liberal (don’t ask). Part of her upbringing for her first 10 years was with conservative religious institutions running the show. I have gay friends and promote not just tolerance but understanding, empathy and accepting for everyone. Tolerance is to be only used when the persons are totally idiots and it’s all you can do. With my girl it’s been an uphill battle but I think I am winning. She is part of that future and hope she is one of the ones who changes the world.

    Like

  8. Bruce and Jacob are so candid about their lives – it’s inspiring. Lisa and Hubby… It’s fantastic for me to read and see just how many fellow allies for equality are out there – living their lives, raising families, and helping to shape a better tomorrow.
    I loved this post, thank you for sharing!

    Like

  9. Rebecka Waller says:

    Loved this. Thanks for sharing. Change in public acceptance is slow but it’s definitely moving in the right direction. It was a shocking realization to learn that a lot of my family (aunts, uncles, even my oldest brother) dont share the same views that I do. I’m not sure where I learned or when I decided that LGBT people were just the same as every one else, it just always seemed so logical to me. I never understood why anyone would think otherwise. But I know my husband and I are raising our kids (all 5 of ’em!) to know that everyone deserves to love who they choose. And I just pray that by the time they’re adults and making there way in the world, choosing who they love, that this will be an antiquated subject and one that won’t factor into the choices they make.

    Like

  10. Ugh! I’m traveling today and want to reply to each of you individually, but I’m on my phone and am a really bad fat-finger typer. :-P

    Instead, I’ll just group hug you (((hug))) and tell you how glad I am that we have opened our hearts and minds, and embraced a future of change and progress for our kids. :)

    Like

  11. helenajust says:

    You say about Lucy Meadows: “…the emotional scarring of her children—the argument that some of the parents hid behind in an effort to reinforce their own prejudices and assuage their own fears—would most likely never have materialized”. From other coverage I’ve read, I doubt if in fact the parents (or most of them) were prejudiced; from what I can gather, one particular newspaper decided to pursue this story and were not interested in hearing any of the positive comments which most parents wanted to convey. (I do note that you say “some of the parents”, but I’d hate your readers to be left thinking that it was more than a very small minority (so far as I can gather).

    Thank you for an excellent post today – the story of Bruce and Jacob just reinforces that children are not born prejudiced; they learn that behaviour, and it is up to all of us to prevent that from happening as much as possible.

    Like

    • My apologies if I misrepresented the facts, Helen. Thank you for setting the record straight. I could only assume that whatever the number, it was great enough to drown out the voices of those who’d have supported Miss Meadows. This is why the HAHAT is so important – so that we, the supporters, can speak loud and clear to those who need us the most. :)

      Like

      • helenajust says:

        A reasonable assumption on your part. The problem was that there was prejudiced reporting, which distorted the balance the reaction.

        Like

  12. jeayci says:

    As a teenager (many, many years ago) I was nervous to “come out” to my friends. I referred to my stepmother (my mother’s partner) as our “roommate” for years. Finally, I took the risk and told my friends the truth. Their reaction? “We know. We were wondering when you were going to tell us.” All that worry for nothing!

    Except, in more recent years, a few have thanked me for showing them how perfectly normal gay families are. They credit knowing my family as the start of opening their minds and broadening their ability to accept “other”. So just by being “out” in the world, we’re all helping to change it for the better. Harvey Milk was right. :)

    Like

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story! What a great affirmation, first of all, that you have fabulous taste in friends. :)

      Secondly, I think one of the greatest things both you and Bruce have shown is that, underneath the labels, we’re all just folks trying to do right by our families.

      Like

  13. What an awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m not entering the contest, I’ll leave that open for the rest of your guests, but I enjoyed reading too much not to leave my kudos and appreciation.

    <3

    Like

  14. What an interesting and thought provoking article. What you said about people being obsessed with the sex is so true. Kids just don’t need or want to know this, it’s about love for them. It makes me wonder why others obsess about the sex element.

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    • I’m not sure why it is, Liam. It’s mind boggling, really. I mean, if a child were to ask an adult what heterosexual means, no adult in his or her right mind would instantly think, Well, that’s when a man and a woman have sex with each other.

      There are people out there, though, who just can’t seem to remove the sexual component from the equation of other sexualities, which is so dismissive of all the other things our relationships are really about–working, going to school, having dinner together, communicating, raising children, paying bills…

      Like

  15. H.B. says:

    Thank s so much for taking part in the hop, for sharing your experiences and what you try to teach your kids. It’s awesome to hear about.

    Also I love the pic of Riles. Kids should be allowed to dress the way they want without social stigma touching them. I think it’s a great way to help keep them open minded.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by, H.B., and thanks especially for taking the time to have a look at Bruce’s and my small contribution to the big picture.

      Riles is such a beautiful child and his parents are heroes. :)

      Like

  16. Cindy says:

    Your stories being home to me what I have seen and heard time and time again. Children need a loving home – period. If that home has a mom/dad, dad/dad, mom/mom, aunt/uncle, older sibling etc. who gives a rip. Love is love and the sooner children realize that – the better. Thanks for supporting a really important cause.

    Like

  17. Allison Hickman says:

    Thank you for this article. I am finding so many wonderful new people to follow from this hop. I was wondering, could the winner choose to have the winnings donated to one of the organizations instead?

    Like

  18. Wonderful post, Lisa and Bruce! It is tragic what so many young LGBTQ people have to go through because of their sexuality, and the fact that victimization is on the decrease is a positive sign. As Bruce and Jacob’s story illustrates, educating children from a young age is the key to fighting intolerance.

    Thanks so much for sharing and for the giveaway!

    jamie(at)jamiedeacon(dot)com

    Like

  19. Beth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful story. I really loved hearing the successes that they have overcome to raise such a great family. I would also love to join the giveaway. Thank you for participating in the hop.

    Like

  20. Sadonna says:

    What a great post! Kudos to all you wonderful parents out there doing your best to make sure the next generation learns to show love and compassion and empathy for all. Embracing love in all it’s forms is the only way forward. It’s terrific to watch this become such a non-issue to so many kids today and I think it will only be more so in the future.

    Like

  21. chickie434 says:

    I loved the post! Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories, and for participating. It’s thanks to open-minded parents like you that kids are becoming more and more free to be who they were born to be.

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Like

  22. “to foster a future of acceptance”

    I think we can all do something to help make a difference. This is a beautiful post and I’m proud to share it :)

    lisat131 at gmail dot com

    Like

  23. Urbanista says:

    Thanks for the great interview story with Bruce and Jacob. Homophobics are afraid of what goes on behind closets doors? WHY? I’m disgusted by their concern over other people’s intimate relations. Prurient, in the creepiest sense of the word.
    Urb
    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

    Like

  24. Carolyn says:

    I absolutely love reading posts like this, seeing parents raising their kids to be the ones who will go out in the world and live and love in a way that will affect others. I wish we could say that laws or big name endorsements could change the world quickly, but it’s really the day-to-day interactions between people in that small scale that will create real change. That’s why we’re all so important in stamping out all the bigotry and hatred. It’s each person stepping up and showing neighbors and community that we won’t stand for all the wrong-thinking and challenging it.

    Thank you Lisa and Bruce for all your wonderful words and for being part of the hop!

    Like

  25. Many, many thanks to all of you who stopped by to read Bruce’s and my HAHAT post, and thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

    I’m humbled that Bruce and Jacob were so generous to share this part of their lives with us, and though the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia is now officially done for another year, its goals are a daily pursuit.

    The contest is now closed and the winners have been selected by the random number generator at Random.org. Congratulations go to:

    Annette and parisfanca!

    I’ll be in touch with both of you to arrange prize ordering and details for shipping.

    Warmest regards to you all!

    Lisa

    Like

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