Parents who spoke out for their LGBT children in 2014

This year, many parents spoke out in the media in support of their LGBT children. Often, these powerful messages are not heard widely enough, and while there is still much work to do toward family acceptance, there are many parents who embrace their children regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These are just some of the parents who made their voices heard in 2014.

Debi Jackson

Debi Jackson, the mother of a 6-year-old transgender girl named A.J., gave a speech about her daughter this year at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City. A video of the speech went viral with more than 400,000 views, and was shared in an article from the Huffington Post and in a tweet from Ricky Martin. Debi’s powerful words of support for her daughter, and her self-identification as, “a conservative Southern Baptist Republican from Alabama,” impacted many people. In her speech, Debi explains:

"My God taught us to love one another… My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. And that's good enough for me."

Roxanne Green

This year, Roxanne Green continued speaking out for her daughter, Lateisha Green, a Black transgender woman who was murdered in Syracuse, New York, in 2008. Though Dwight DeLee was convicted of a hate crime in 2009 for Lateisha’s murder, that decision was set aside in 2013 because of what the court viewed as an “inconsistent” verdict. Along with other advocates and family of Lateisha, Roxanne worked with GLAAD to bring attention to a hearing held this October to determine whether DeLee’s conviction should be reinstated, and wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post about the case’s history. The court announced in November that it would allow a retrial of the hate crime charge in The People v. Dwight DeLee. Roxanne wrote in her op-ed:

"Since 2008 when my daughter's life was taken, more than ninety transgender people have been murdered in the United States. Each time this happens, a family and community have to live through the anguish that I have had to live through. It's time that violence against transgender women is taken seriously in the criminal justice system.”

Laverne Cox and her mother, Gloria

Backstage at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles this year, Access Hollywood spoke to actress Laverne Cox and her mother, Gloria, after Laverne received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from actress Ellen Paige. Gloria came onto the stage to surprise Laverne while she received her award. When asked what it has been like for her to find support for her transgender daughter, Gloria told Access Hollywood:

"Understanding, and praying, and talking, and continuing to talk. And, most of all, love.

On advice for other parents, Gloria added:

“Listen. Listen to your children, take note of actions, and talk. Open dialogue…that's the most important thing.”

Asian Pride Project

A series of public service announcements (PSAs) began airing this summer on local California television channels that serve large Asian American communities in order to share Asian American parents' messages of unconditional love and acceptance for their LGBT children. The PSAs are the result of a partnership between the Asian Pride Project and the National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, both organizations that strive to better the lives of Asian and Pacific Islander individuals who identify as LGBT and their families. The ads were filmed in English, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Hindi, Tagalog, and Laotian. A previous video series released in 2013 by the Asian Pride Project featured mothers and grandmothers of LGBT Asian Americans. In this year’s PSA series, Clara Yoon, a mother with Asian/Pacific Islander PFLAG, says in Korean:

“I am proud of my son. I have always been proud of my son…Share your story of love and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children. After all, family is still family. And love is still love.”

Judy and Dennis Shepard

Judy and Dennis Shepard, whose son, Matthew, was fatally attacked in 1998, brought the new documentary film, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, to the Side By Side LGBT International Film Festival in Russia. The film is directed by Michele Josue, a high school friend of Matthew’s, and tells the story of Matthew’s life from the perspective of his friends and family. The Side By Side festival seeks to establish a supportive environment where LGBT people are able to affirm and extend their identities. Leading up to the festival, Judy, Dennis, Michele, and the film’s producer, Liam McNiff, spoke to GLAAD about why they are going to Russia and their plans while there. Dennis told GLAAD:

“We hope to get to talk to a lot of parents, and let them know that they’re not alone in their struggle to protect their kids.”

Judy added:

“We think that the trouble that’s going on right now actually would be improved if families embraced their children, instead of feeling so afraid by their kids being gay – support and understand that it’s not a choice. And we think our message is kind of unique in that way as accepting parents, so our message is gonna be about embracing your family.”

Maureen and Joseph Lovell

After their 16-year-old daughter, Sage, became the first known transgender teen to be elected to a high school homecoming court in Georgia this year, Maureen and Joseph Lovell were ready to show their support. Speaking to GLAAD All Access this year in Atlanta, Maureen said:

“She’s very inspiring to me. Just the bravery that she shows to really truly be herself, which is what we always encouraged her to be, it just does inspire me every day. Sage’s safety is always one of our first priorities, and I myself, I was very concerned. But where I drew strength from was from her. You know, her being very strong about who she wanted to be, and let her own self out; that gave me strength to face whatever we needed to face.”

Let us know of other parents who spoke out for their LGBT children in the comments!