While I was running errands last week, an old song came on the radio. It’s called “Lookin’ for Love” by Johnny Lee. I’m an 80’s girl so of course I knew the song (smile). I think it was in the movie Urban Cowboy. In one of my recent posts, I asked if anyone had questions. It seems people really struggle with stereotypes. In the crazy way that my brain works, this song reminded me of that struggle and something that happened a few years ago related to it.
If you watched the mini series “When We Rise” last year, you got to see what being LGBTQ was like throughout history beginning back in the 70’s. It ended with the supreme court’s decision in 2015 to make marriage a right for the LGBTQ community. It was a good series. Parts of it were difficult to watch. Saying it was rough for the community is an understatement…on many fronts. I am so very thankful for the people who fought so hard for their rights. We still have much farther to go, but things are better than what they were back then.
Since I was born in 1967, I wasn’t aware of what was happening to the LGBTQ community back in the 70’s and even the early 80’s. Watching the series helped me to understand where that generation got their ideas about the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, those ideals were passed down to younger generations. Until I met gay people as I got older, the only information I had about them was what I heard the older generation say about them and it seemed to me that it all had to do with sex.
In many areas of our country, it is still hard to be out even today. Back then, however, it was even more difficult. The LGBTQ community had to hide. The series showed what it was like for them. There were bars and bath houses that they would frequent to basically find people like themselves. I am sure it was a very lonely existence. Alcohol and drugs flowed in these places. It seemed that promiscuity was the norm. If you look at that era in general though, I think it’s safe to say that this was across the board…straight or gay in many places.
When kids come out, I have found that a big concern for parents is they wonder when their kid is going to start with the behaviors that they’ve been accustomed to hearing about the LGBTQ community. They think their kid is going to change. This is why education is so important and something that our PFLAG chapter stresses to parents new on this journey. We assure the parents that their kids are the same as they were the day before they found out they were LGBTQ.
A couple of years ago I was reminded of how big of a hurdle the LGBTQ community has in overcoming old stereotypes that are out there about them. I shared my journey of having a gay child at my church on July 5, 2015. I talked about our journey, this blog, and the mom’s I’ve met along the way. My message was about love. The following Sunday, one of our church members stopped me with a question. This person went home and did some research on gay people. I’m not sure what kind of research they did, but they focused on sex. They were surprised that statistically gay men are having more sex then straight men. They asked me if I knew why.
As you can imagine, I was quite taken aback by this question. I felt defeated. Is this really all this person walked away from when hearing my story?? It took a bit for my brain to catch up to answer their question. At first, all I could think of was…
Where did they even find a survey like this?
And Lord help me be gracious as I answer because deep down I wanted to scream, “Why does everyone make it about sex?!”
I reminded them that I wasn’t an expert, but I had a few ideas. I turned things around and asked them a few questions:
Do you think the research you read took into consideration the kids that have been kicked out of their homes? Do you know what they often have to resort to in order to survive? Many of them have to work the streets as prostitutes in order to have food or a place to stay.
If you were told over and over again that you were disgusting and didn’t deserve to live, how do you think you would feel about yourself? Do you think you would look for love in healthy ways feeling that way about yourself?
If you came from a faith background and were told you were going to hell, would you care about how you lived your life moving forward?
If you were told that love was not for you and someone paid attention to you, do you think it would be easy for that person to take advantage of you?
They admitted that they hadn’t thought of things that way.
Taking all of these things into consideration is another reason why the number one piece of advice that I give parents new to this journey is to make sure their kids know that they are loved. Granted that isn’t romantic love which many of them crave, but it will help them to have a healthy view of themselves. Straight or gay that is helpful. And it doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is when it comes to whether or not they are going to have sex, when they start having sex, or how often they have sex.
The chorus of the song I heard last week is this:
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what I’m dreamin’ of.
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover;
I’ll bless the day I discover
another heart lookin’ for love.
The only way to break the stereotypes that we’ve been taught is to enter the stories of the LGBTQ community. They need our understanding. They need our love so they don’t have to look for it “in all the wrong places.”
Because love matters…