This video below was shared with me via my Twitter buddy Julie Mieure. She couldn’t have possibly known how close to home it hits. I don’t think I really know her or that she really knows me. Ours is a social media friendship, like so many these days.
Julie sent this video because she’s aware of my passion, my vow to ensure that no child, teen, or young adult should ever be forced to choose between who they are — the opportunity to live their authentic life — and their family. It happens more often than most folks realize. 40% of all homeless teens identify as LGBTQ and were kicked to the streets by their own families. Most often the Bible is used to cite and support these actions.
My biological father and his family have not spoken to me since I came out to them in 1999 –a year after the death of my beloved Grandma Redmond. For me 1998 and 1999 pretty much sucked. The only exception was the opportunity to get the hell out of southern Indiana and move to Miami Beach. Life got much better–Is much better.
I’ll write about the experience one day.
Family friends and neighbors were told by my biological father and my Redmond relatives that I was a thief, I was lazy, I didn’t want to work or even know how to work. That as an adult I looked for others to support me. These, they said, were inherent qualities they’d witnessed in me since I was a child. My biological father and my Redmond relatives said these things to my mother and stepfather. They said them to me. In their minds, in order to explain or perhaps even encourage the estrangement I suppose, it was better to believe and to say I was a criminal and a bum rather than accept the truth and with honesty say, “My son is gay” or “My nephew is gay.”
I offer no rebuttal to their indictments. My life and work ethic speak for me.
My stepfather is my Dad, he is the man who raised me. I believe anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Dad. Since I was 4 years old he’s been there for me, every milestone, during every occasion offering nothing but love, discipline, and guidance. Not long ago he told me he couldn’t imagine what his life would have been like without me, without my brother, or without my mother. He said he’s grateful God gave him our family. And as for my mother… well that goes without saying. She’s the only person in this world that’s been with me, been my champion, since the beginning. Like Dad I, too, am grateful – I know the feeling of a family’s love.
I also know the feeling of a family’s loathing.
I believe in respecting myself and in walking away from those who do not help me grow and learn. I believe in walking away from those who want to hold me back. I believe in walking away from negative energy. I choose every day to surround myself with uplifting, positive people. I think about and miss my Grandma Redmond often. I think about how hurt she must be to know what’s transpired since her passing. However, there comes a time when one must stand up for themselves, face their family and say, “You are wrong!”
I stood up to mine. I said those words. And in doing so I became a better and stronger person.
Please take the twelve minutes necessary to watch this video. Listen to this man’s story. Reflect on it. Then think about your family. What would it be like if your parents and relatives banished you from their fold because of who you are? Then remember, there’s a kid out there somewhere asking himself or herself, “Why does my family hate me?”
What can you do to help that kid?