“I’m afraid to let my child go to Pride events. What should I do?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Amanda Neumann
First and foremost, I’m so sorry you have to go through this fear. I’m sorry that your child has to live in a world where their very existence puts them at risk. It is unfair and it makes no sense at all.
As a queer woman, I am scared. I am hurt. I am angry. The attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando has shed a harsh light on the hate and discrimination LGBTQIA folks face. It’s also shown how strong and courageous this community can be.
Still, my city’s Pride festival is in a month and I can’t say that I’m not afraid. I know there are many people who are afraid:afraid to go to the few large LGBTQ events in their town, afraid to go to the one gay bar on the edge of downtown, afraid to make themselves visible in any way.
I want to tell you that it’s okay to be scared. You have a right to be scared for your child. For so many children, teenagers, parents, and people. Violence against the LGBTQ community comes in the form of hate crimes, which are often painfully underreported, as well as legal and institutional discrimination. In the past year,over a hundred anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 22 states. These bills contribute to a culture of homophobia and hate. This is apparent not only in what laws are passed, but in what laws are not.
I also want you to remember why LGBTQIA-specific spaces are important. Your fear has roots in deep places, but so does your child’s need to go to Pride and other queer spaces. There are few queer spaces for the LGBTQ community and even fewer that are all-ages. Feeling alone is scary. Queer spaces fulfill a very important need. They provide a safe space in an often unsafe world. They offer a place for self exploration, freedom of expression, and community-building.
In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, The New York Times published an article about the important role that gay bars and other LGBTQIA spaces play in the lives of LGBTQIA individuals. These personal narratives highlight the different ways queer spaces, especially queer spaces for people of color, are vital to queer individuals and communities. I implore you to learn more about the history of LGBTQIA spaces and empathize with your child’s need to be part of a community.
Being an advocate is the most important thing you can do for your child. Stand up for them and their right to exist safely and happily in this world. Write your state representatives, support your local LGBTQIA-friendly businesses, donate time or money to an LGBTQIA organization, and talk to your boss or coworkers about creating inclusive environments.
Don’t stop. Demand safe spaces for the LGBTQIA community, especially for LGBTQIA youth. Check out your local PFLAG organization, work to create a new safe space for LGBTQIA youth, and find out what laws your state has protecting the LGBTQIA community.
And, of course, if you are afraid to let your child go to Pride events, consider going with them. Not as protection, but as support. Learn why your child is determined to be there.
Thank you for reading this article. The fact that you are here and trying to find resources for your child says a lot. I had no LGBTQIA spaces available when I was a teenager and wish so often that I had. While I was lucky to grow up in a supportive household, there is no substitute for being a part of a queer community.
Amanda lives in Indiana with her growing family of felines and books. She recently earned her BA in Women’s Studies and English and hopes to use her knowledge and skills to destroy the patriarchy, or at the very least create more spaces for communication and engaged activism. Amanda’s hobbies include infrequently blogging, working with nonprofit organizations, rereading Harry Potter, and caring about things. Follow on Twitter @amandandwords