Friday, June 19, 2009


On a fairly recent episode of ABC's The View, the ladies posed the question of whether parent's should ask their kids "Hey, Are You Gay?".

Here, Xavier Ford, of FACESNY (our 2009-2010 HIV/AIDS Charity Partner) weighs in.


I sometimes recall my years working for Gay Men of African Descent and running the Youth Program The MARS Project. There would be an influx of youth who would become “homeless”. When I inquired to the reasons that lead to their homelessness, the most common answer would be “because I am gay”. Now, my reaction as a staff person in such an organization was quickly be enraged by the belief that a parent would discharge their child because of who they are. If it wasn’t for the fact that I encountered more youth with similar experiences, I might not have noticed the pattern that has been created within a subculture.

Remember when you found out from a teacher that you can call 911 if your parents hit you?! I know I went home with this new sense of POWER and AUTHORITY to challenge the power and authority that already existed in my household. I say that to say, we have gotten so used to fighting to prove who we are, fighting to assert what we want as individuals, we will tear down everything that has supported and nurtured us when we couldn’t do it for ourselves allowing for a generation of youth growing up believing that being “gay” is some dirty secret that if exposed will change the course of their lives, so they dread the question and when asked, use the “fight or flight” response to the situation.

But it wasn’t as simple as fight or flight or a simple response to a “question” but more a of validation.

Parents: When was the first time you asked “GOD”, why your child isn’t what you thought or asked for? Why isn’t he/she more like so-n-so’s child, they are so talented/smart/attractive/athletic etc. When did your little buddle of joy become a source of embarrassment and disgrace? I am sure if you’re truly honest with yourselves, you will see that it may have nothing to do with your child’s sexuality but maybe a highlight of something’s you found your own past. Now I’m not talking about your sexuality, but about the questions of validity you might have had to endure… whether it be:

“why aren’t you married yet”
“ why are you still with him”
“why don’t you get a better job”

All of those questions tapping on your self worth.

We all learn some of these things directly and indirectly from our parents, biological or adoptive and then forget that its not really what/who we are. S o no wonder no one really celebrates themselves as they truly are when its been so covered up by what everyone expects us to be. When a child grows up in such a space, they will begin to see what traits are not desirable and begin to formulate their own self worth by those measures never really encouraged by the traits that have.

Now imagine putting that onto/into your child?

I challenge parents to shed those questions of validation of what your child’s future experiences will be and highlight and celebrate the gift of life your child represents. Show your child that EVERYTHING they can do is because of them in their TOTALITY. “You’re the best at reaching things out of reach by others” would allow a child to not feel self conscious about their height forcing them into places and spaces that they may truly not want. I mean, how many youth play basketball simply cause they are expected to because they are “tall”. When you celebrate your children in every aspect, they will not allow the outside world on change their validation based on physical attributes or even sexual orientation, for the child will know that their sexuality is just another component of who they are, no more changeable then the color of their eyes…

But wait, we have ways to change that… so if your not happy with what GOD/Universe bestowed, we can alter it, all to make us more comfortable with who we are in the eyes of others EVEN if causes pain irritation, redness, but then thank goodness for clear eyes… and the cycle continues.

If a child is smart, successful, honorable, has a sense of fairness and justice, why would their sexuality threaten to take that away? Yet, teachers, pastors, parents hide it with such varicosity that it takes on a life of its own and threaten to take everything they believe away from them. They go these notions from their parents and it was reinforced by their environments.

So, before you ask your child that or any other question regarding “who” they are, ask yourself:

Are YOU who YOU want to be? If not, maybe the only way to fix the effects of such questions is to lead by example and show your children how to celebrate everything about themselves by celebrating everything within YOURSELF!

See ya in the EITHER!!

Xavier Ford

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