After a Child ‘Comes Out,’ Where Do Parents Turn?
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays Partners with Parents to Offer Help, Resources and Personal Stories
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Jen Wozniak, 610.584.1096, ext. 100, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com
RICHMOND, Va.—There may be no news more shocking than when a child “comes out,” announcing that he or she is homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender.
Often, parents feel lost, perhaps as though they failed, or that the relationship with the child will never be the same.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX, www.pfox.org), the nation’s leading advocacy organization that offers love and support to families and friends of individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, aims to help parents during this difficult time.
PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs has equipped parents to navigate some of the complicated challenges that families face when sons and daughters reveal that they are gay or struggling with gender identity. In fact, PFOX worked with and offered resources to more than 80 families in 2015. And Griggs speaks from experience, as she faced some of these same situations herself as a mother.
“PFOX exists to help parents deal with the many issues parents face when their children choose a lifestyle that may be against their teachings—and their church’s teachings,” Griggs said. “It can be hurtful, frightening and even depressing. PFOX is here to help with resources, support and a listening ear, because we’ve been there and we want them to know that there are many other parents out there who are just like them.”
PFOX shares the many resources available to parents and friends on its web site. PFOX also provides special advice to parents, such as how to join a parent support group, stories from other parents, advice to parents from ex-gays and words of wisdom from other parents.
One of those parent stories is from Steve and Janice Graham, who have been married for more than 40 years and have seven children—five daughters and two sons. As a boy in elementary school, their son began to be perceived by his male friends as different, simply because of his personality. His friends began pulling away, calling him names and making fun of him—what Janice called “peer abuse” and “peer rejection.”
“As our son got older and went into junior high school,” Steve said in the couple’s PFOX video, “they started physically abusing him.” Added Janice, “It was hurtful to see our son being rejected by members of his own gender. We didn’t know what to do about it.” And the two parents “had no resources and no experience,” Steve said.
“You’re stamped with this label at an extremely young age when you haven’t even begun your sexual development,” Janice said. “He was stuck—and I fear a lot of young people today are stuck—in that no man’s land, where they have no choice but to start to wonder about their sexuality, just because of their interests and their hobbies and their talents.” Continued Steve, “And the way the world has said, ‘if you have these interests and these talents, then obviously it means you’re gay.’”
The Grahams went on to say that their son became involved in and vulnerable to same-sex pornography. After a powerful church meeting, their son confided to his parents about his homosexual activity. They were shattered. And his mother said his personality completely changed. Steve and Janice tried to get help through their church leaders, but they hit a dead end.
Eventually, they found a wonderful counselor who, along with Janice and Steve, worked to get to the spiritual roots of the problem. Through that work, their son learned how to “unbelieve the lies that he’d been taught” and replace them with truth.
“Watching our son come out of his homosexual mindset,” Janice said, “was a really precious experience. It didn’t happen overnight. It will be a painful process. Any kind of change and growth is painful.”
And, added Steve, parents who do what they did—help a child out of homosexuality—will be in the cultural minority, and will also face abuse from friends, family and society.
But most gratifying, Janice said, once her son left his homosexual past behind him, she saw his “innate, beautiful personality come back.” Today, he is married with a child, and “this dark period in his life is now ancient history to him.”
“We wouldn’t have chosen this for our son or for our family,” Steve said, “but having been given it, we’re grateful for what we’ve learned from it and how it enables us to move forward in the world the way it is today.”
PFOX highlights other stories of those who are either ex-gay or have been affected by transgender, homosexual and other sexual identity issues in their family on its web site at www.pfox.org/personal-stories and www.pfox.org/safe-exit. Some of those featured in the videos now serve as guest speakers at churches for the Safe Exit program for churches and help families as well. For details on the program, including how to invite a guest speaker to a church or how to obtain family help, visit www.pfox.org/safe-exit.
PFOX is a national non-profit organization that supports families and educates the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX supports an inclusive environment for the ex-gay community and works to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals by conducting public education and outreach to further individual self-determination and respect for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.
PFOX believes that every person seeking positive life change needs the love and support of family, friends, the community and the church, and strives to offer a place for help, a place for truth, and a place for ex-gays to participate in the conversation about same-sex attraction. PFOX families love their homosexual children unconditionally, believing that unconditional love between them and their child is based on treating each other with kindness and respect. Each year, men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to seek help in overcoming a homosexual identity through gender-affirming programs, including counseling, support groups, faith-based ministries and other non-judgmental environments.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization with a mission to support families and educate the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX is committed to supporting parents and friends of homosexuals who want help, hope and community, and exists to provide education and resources. PFOX works toward understanding and acceptance of the ex-gay community.
To interview a representative from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Jen Wozniak at 610-584-1096, ext. 100, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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