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Pride Month Special: What To Do And Not Do When Your Child Comes Out To You. Tips From A Parent Of A Queer Child

As a Pride Month special, team Banega Swasth India speaks with 58-year-old Ashish Garg, a mother of a queer child to know about the Dos’ and Don’ts of how to react when their child comes out to them

Pride Month Special: What To Do And Not Do When Your Child Comes Out To You. Tips From A Parent Of A Queer Child
To celebrate LGBTQ culture and support LGBTQ rights, the whole month of June is marked as Pride Month

New Delhi: The world marks an entire month of June as Pride Month, which is also dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture and the support of LGBTQ rights.

Banega Swasth India team spoke to 58-year-old Ashish Garg, an Education Futurist and Founder & CEO of Discover Tomorrow Campaign, a not-for-profit advocacy platform that aims to educate and create awareness among all the stakeholders who impact the life of a queer child. Ms Garg is also a mother of a queer child, and it is during her journey of acceptance she realised that in India there is not enough education about the topic, which led her to start her campaign – Discover Tomorrow.

Mother’s Day Special: A Parent’s Personal Account Of Accepting Their Queer Child

58-year-old Ashish Garg, a mother of a queer child kick-started her campaign – Discover Tomorrow in bid to help families like her

Also Read: A Parent’s Personal Account Of Accepting Their Queer Child

As a part of her campaign, Ms Garg started taking LGBTQIA+ inclusive workshops, which helps fellow parents of queer children and the children themselves to find acceptance at home and in the community. The educative sessions teach parents about Dos’ and Don’ts of how to react when their child comes out to them; what to do when they know their child is queer and how to accept them.

Here is some advice shared by Ashish Garg from a parent’s perspective on how they should support their child when they come out.

1. Stand By Them, No Matter What. Because If You As Parents Won’t Be By Their Side, No One Else Will Be

Ashish Garg says that the first and basic thumb rule is acceptance. She adds, “Remember this, if we as parents will not stand up for our child, no one else will. When a child is born and you hold it for the first time, you don’t think whether the child is gay, lesbian, transgender or anything – all you do is that you hold it in your arms and love him / her no matter what. You pray they are healthy. But when the child grows up and comes out to you and reveals their identity, most parents react in a different way. Learn to accept them for who they are.”

Also Read: Meet K Sheethal Nayak, A Transwoman, Who Quit Engineering To Fight For The Rights Of Transgenders

2. Parents Should Not Freak Out, Instead Should Normalise The Discussion

The next important thing that parents of a queer child should understand is that they should normalise the discussion about coming out, feels Ashish Garg. She says, “My advice to parents – don’t freak out, it is neither your child’s fault nor it is your fault. The earlier you will understand this, easier will be the acceptance journey. Secondly, normalise the discussion, don’t create a scene or try to brush the topic under the carpet.”

Ms Garg further said that parents should understand that being a queer is not a sin or illness and you as parents just cannot fix or cure it. She says, “The solution for this is to basically accept them for who they are.”

Recounting snippets from her own journey of acceptance, Ms Garg said, “We as parents of a queer child also had phases of self-blame, we thought we faltered in our upbringing. But, when we finally stopped thinking about all this and started listening to the child, we realised the child was suffering too and that’s when we stood up for our child.”

Also Read: Noori Saleem, A Transgender Mother, Has Created A Home For More Than 300 HIV+ Children

3. Don’t Live In Denial

Ashish Garg says it is normal for parents to go into shock the moment they get to know their child’s gender reality. She adds, “Listen to your child, understand the subject from them, give them their space, but just not deny the topic by saying things like ‘Oh, lot of people have crushes on people of the same sex at your age’, ‘maybe with time you will grow out of it’, or ‘it is just a phase’.

Secondly, Ms Garg feels that parents should just not listen to the coming out of their child only for one time and then just not ever speak about the topic. It is important for everyone to have a discussion. She feels that these are children who also deserve perfectly normal life. It is not something that they have done, it is how they were born. Ms Garg adds,

“The journey is tougher for parents who don’t want to accept this or who don’t wish to understand the topic. But once you get past these initial phases and start the journey of acceptance, you realise that these children are full of anxiety, are traumatised by years of rejection and bullying both in school and outside that they are only looking for your love. And once you start to give them love and acceptance these children can tap their full potential and can-do wonderful things in their life and contribute towards the community in a big way.”

4. Educate Yourself, Don’t Let Your Fears Come In Between You And Your Child

The next basic thing in the journey of acceptance is education and awareness, says Ashish Garg. She adds,

“Most parents reject their child out of fears, they think the society won’t accept them, they won’t find a suitable job, nor they will get married and the society will reject the family as well. Put a full stop to all these fears, they aren’t under your control. What is in your control is your love for your child, which should not change with these fears.”

Similarly, Ms Garg feels that parents should educate themselves first about the subject and try and ask their child all their doubts and queries so that they in their head space know what they are getting into. She also feels that in India the knowledge for the subject needs to be inculcated in our school curriculum. She adds, “Acceptance of LGBTQIA+ community has to begin at school level. If curriculums have the details about the subject, it will guide not only children but their parents as well, which will help make the journey of acceptance easy.”

Also Read: Fashion Beyond Boundaries: A Fashion Show To Promote Inclusion Of People With Disability

5. Take Support And Talk It Out. There Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Off

Lastly, Ashish Garg feels that ’support’ is the way to go about. Giving an example from her own journey, she adds, “What helped us in our journey of acceptance is when we started talking about our case with similar parents. We learned a lot about the topic, it kind of gave us a path.”

She further said that it is totally understandable if parents want to take some time. She said everyone’s journey is different and it is normal to take your own time. Ms Garg added, “Just because you are taking time doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a sign of homophobia or failure to accept your child – it just means you need a bit of space and support. Try and find trusted people to talk to understand the support system will only make things better for you and your child. Don’t be ashamed of the topic or have fears of rejections.”

Also Read: Love Is Love: Stand-up Comedian Swati Sachdeva Opens Up About Bisexuality In Her Viral Act

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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