The PFLAG Journal – A Place for Original Contributions

The Tapestry
Oftentimes, parents ask the group and sometimes me in particular, If you could change your child’s sexual orientation, wouldn't you do so?  Without hesitation my response is, No, I would not. + I compare my daughter to a beautiful and priceless tapestry that I have been gifted with. I muse for a minute that one day I look at this fine tapestry and notice all of the red threads running throughout this piece of art. Hmm, I ponder, red does not really fit into my decor. + So I begin very carefully to pull out all the red threads. I find to my dismay that some red threads were connected to the blue threads of my tapestry, and now all of the purple parts are gone! Not only that, but some of the red threads were intertwined with yellow, and now the orange highlights are gone. There are no more pink hues in my tapestry, either. + As I look at the pile of red threads on the floor and then back to what was once a truly magnificent work of art, I am horrified. What have I done? There is no way to fix it! Where once hung a beautiful tapestry that brought great pleasure to me and to all who entered this home, there now hangs only a mass of disconnected threads. + My Susan and your child are like that tapestry.  We have no way of knowing how sexuality is intertwined with an individual's personality. I love my daughter. She is a beautiful renaissance woman. I celebrate who she is with all my being. I feel the most fortunate of women to be her mother. + I can't help but notice the many who sit in our PFLAG circle and say things like, Johnny was always the most sensitive and caring one of all our children. How can he do this to us? Or, Mary was the one we could always count on in the family. She is wonderful with children. How can she be a lesbian? And so it goes, on and on. + I don't know, but maybe, just maybe, what makes our children so special is all of those red threads intertwined throughout their being.
Jean Hansen, PFLAG Sacramento
When Your Grandchild is Gay  

By Dr. Ruth Westheimer

The passing decades often lead to a mellowing of your attitude toward life. The more you've seen and experienced over the years, usually the more you can take of what life throws at you with equanimity.

And so if one of those curves is that a grandchild turns out to be gay, you're unlikely to get too upset. Whether that's also true of the young person's parents is another story, and if one or both takes a very negative view, what role might you then play?

I'm one of those who believes that grandparents shouldn't meddle too much, but if the news that one of your grandchildren is gay causes a lot of sturm und drang, then perhaps that advice needs to be revised. If the child is getting a lot of grief from his or her parents, as well as from the outside world, then he or she will need a shoulder to cry on, literally. But even more important, your grandchild may need an advocate.

Having one or both parents angry with their child is not the appropriate response. Your grandchild is having a difficult enough time coming to terms with this issue and needs support, not added pressure. But teens are often in a state of conflict with their parents, which stems from the tension of cutting the apron strings. But while you outgrow being a teenager, you never outgrow your sexual identity. And if that sexual identity drives a wedge between parent and child, it could end up being permanent.

Of course, as a grandparent you don't want to drive a wedge between you and your offspring, so I'm not advocating starting a fight. But if you go out of your way to welcome your gay grandchild, as the parent of one of the grandchild's parents you will have influence. You may not be able to turn your son or daughter's opinion completely around, but by acting as your grandchild's ally, it may help to reduce the level of hostility.

Accepting change is never easy, and there's no doubt the news a young person is gay is going to upset the apple cart. But if you're there to assist in righting that cart, then hopefully the family will be able to continue on its way bathed-more or less-in unity and love.
Thumbs Up SF Pride 2014

Coliseum Canyons guide us
Up Market Street to Civic Center
And dump us into a raging ocean
Of flesh, surging in tides, rising and falling
Swirling queues in search of pizza, kabobs,
Massage and dance in auditory din.
Hours before, this pushing, pulling mass
Had cheered us curbside up Market
In our annual Pride extravaganza,
Showoffs to the world
That the glad-iators had solved the riddle,
The queens and thumbs were always up
For life, for love, finally to play first fiddle.
Seated on the top flight of the PFLAG bus,
I acknowledged the curb crowd,
Waving gently and nodding appreciation
For applause, waves, bows, tears, shouts,
Air horns, bubbles, rainbows, flags,
And thumbs raised high
For our busload of parents, grandparents,
And friends of these glorious sprites
Dropped from above to teach us love.
And my thumb too took the cue
Increasingly raised to thank the soul
Whose thumbs-up told
Tales of heart enthralled.
I must at least a hundred reached
Whose thumbs were thrust above the crowd,
Our thumbs in air in common bond
That raised us to a world beyond.

Bernard A. Goldberg
June 29, 2014