Learning that your child is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) can be a difficult process for parents. Many parents feel shock or fear. Some blame themselves, some reject their child, others want to be supportive but don't know how. Even parents who consider themselves accepting of LGBT people can react harshly to their own child's coming out.
If your child comes out to you, you may feel like you've lost the person you love. However, it is important to remember that this is the same person you loved just minutes before he or she told you. The very fact that your child felt comfortable enough to tell you speaks volumes about the relationship you share.
If you have a negative, knee-jerk reaction, do not be ashamed of this; try to accept the fact that you have had a shock for which few parents are prepared. Give yourself time to absorb the news, but do not take your anger or confusion out on your child. Though there is no "right" way to act in this situation, understand that now is a time to talk, to ask questions and, most of all, to show your child love.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) offers information and support to help you through the process of accepting your LGBT family member. PFLAG also offers theFamilies of Color Network.
For one family's journey from fear to acceptance, check out FamilyAcceptance.com.
Rejection and peer pressure can often lead to thoughts of suicide. The Trevor Project offers a 24-hour helpline for gay and questioning teens. Toll free: (866) 488-7386.