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01/06/2009

Hey, Regina Griggs: You cause gays pain!

by Jeremy Hooper

Without getting into too many of the personal details, I need, for the sake of this piece, to let you know that I, Jeremy, have experienced my own share of gay-related family strife. And I also must tell you that for a brief period, when I was in my boy-man transitional phase, this familial non-acceptance left me vulnerable to certain harms. Without the financial means or proper support system in place, there was time in my post-college years when I existed without certain essentials that many of my peers took for 200901061006granted. From simple things like a compassionate shoulder to cry on when I had relationship strife to more essential needs like health care access, I sometimes found myself to be a scared Tennessee kid swimming in an ocean of New York City unknown, with a sinking feeling that I didn't have a proper place to turn for unconditional love and support. Most any child-parent conversation about my life -- my TRUE life -- turned into a repudiation of my homosexuality, causing me to stop sharing personal information altogether. And why would I even think of reaching out when I lived with a genuine fear that the other end of deal for any assistance I might receive would be that I enter into an "ex-gay" program?!

I tell you this not to garner sympathy for my past self, but rather to say that I know, full well, how much anti-gay attitudes can make a queer person susceptible to certain hardships. While I was mostly lucky, with both my training and survival skills leading me to eventually flourish in Manhattan, there are others for whom non-accepting familial attitudes have led to more and greater damages. For some gay kids, the anti-gayness can lead to harsher realities like substance abuse and even suicide. And that's not just our opinion -- these findings are fully fleshed out in a newly-released study:

San Francisco, CA -­ For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between rejecting behaviors of families towards lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents and negative health outcomes in early adulthood.

Major Research Findings:

* Higher rates of family rejection during adolescence were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes for LGB young adults.

* LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.

* Latino males reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual orientation in adolescence.
NEW RESEARCH ON GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL YOUTH AND IMPACT OF FAMILY REJECTION [Renna]

Now, these sorts of findings come as a total non-shocker for most actual LGBT people. But what is TRULY galling is when such findings are shunned and decried by those who make a living shunning and decrying homosexuality in general. Even those ho have publicly shown non-acceptance towards their own gay sons:

Regina Griggs, the executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, says the study involved homosexual activists who are attempting to promote "gay affirmation."

"So what we're doing is we're telling young people and we're telling their parents, 'You must accept those feelings. Who cares where they come from? It's a gay lifestyle -- endorse it!' ....and [then] they threaten parents and frighten them by saying, 'If you don't, then your child may commit suicide,'" she points out.

Griggs was then asked what a proper response would be to finding out that your child is homosexual -- something Griggs has dealt with herself.

"I have made the statement that, you know, we love our kids, we love our family members and friends who struggle with this issue. But...rather than having someone impose [the idea that they were] born that way, cannot change, and denying them any rights -- they have a right to know ex-gays exist [and that] change is possible," she shares. "There is absolutely no science out there that says you are born gay. There's no gay gene; there's no [gay] DNA. It is merely self-affirmation."

Recent study on suicide merely 'gay-affirmation' [One News Now]

So what we have here is Regina Griggs, she the mother of a gay son, once again lying about scientific research in a way that makes it sounds as if there is, definitively, no bio-gentic root for homosexuality. She is demonstrating the EXACT behavior that leads to real and verifiable gay harms, with a mindset that is as offensively self-centered as it is anti-gay! She is literally demonstrating the exact sort of conditional love that has sent so many queer young people down the shame spiral. But the worst part? She is doing so without even a scintilla of self-awareness of the role she and her organization play in this anti-gay harm machine. In fact, she is acting as her science-shunning pro-"ex-gay" world is the antidote, when it is in fact the poison!

Regina Griggs hurts this writer more than most anti-gay spokespeople, because in her we don't just see a political opponent -- I see a mom. A mom who has taken her own personal crusade against the homosexuality within her own household and parlayed that into a national campaign of non-acceptance. A mom who is working furiously to shuffle the pieces of the societal puzzle so that gay-rejecting parents are the heroes, and the gay kids are simply the poor lost souls whose woes are of their own making. A mom who is truly hurting people when she could be helping.

Please just stop, Regina. These are actual human lives we are talking about.

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Your thoughts

Behind every one of the anti-gay parents I guarantee religion plays a very big part. It also explains why virtually ALL of the ex-gay operations depend upon religious Christian dogma to accomplish their dubious results.

A psychologist friend and I both agree, religion is currently undergoing its dying gasps.

I look at RI for example, the most heavily Catholic state in the nation. Yet many aren't practicing Catholics.

Posted by: Tony P | Jan 6, 2009 10:49:09 AM

That's creature is not a Mother.

Mothers accept their offspring "UNCONDITIONALY"

Posted by: Derek North | Jan 6, 2009 11:04:08 AM

This makes me so sad.

I can't begin to understand why a parent would be so hurtful as to reject who their children are.

I think that, as a parent, one of the most important things to do is to be accepting of your child. Sometimes this is difficult. It is particularly difficult if it means accepting something that you disagree with as a whole. So, if someone is taught to have the opinion that homosexuality is wrong or bad or a poor choice that a person is making... than they are going to see their child's homosexuality as a negative reflection of their parenting, rather than a physiological state of being.

Posted by: mamaholler | Jan 6, 2009 11:49:18 AM

"A psychologist friend and I both agree, religion is currently undergoing its dying gasps."

Tony P, as a Christian and sister to a gay man (whom I have always loved unconditionally), I'm afraid you may be right.

One of the most harmful things a parent can do is to reject their child for not meeting the parent's expectations. All a parent should want is for their children to be happy, whatever that means.

Posted by: Bonnie_Half-Elven | Jan 6, 2009 12:54:28 PM

Well at least they stopped distorting studies. Now they are just trying to discount them. One for my blog and the anti-gay lies and liars blog.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Jan 6, 2009 12:54:33 PM

What's really sad about Regina's story is that she, down deep, is probably in a lot of pain, some of which may have had to do with her son's coming out, but I suspect there's more to it than that. Just as the "ex-gay" businesses teach people to scapegoat their sexuality for their poor choices/everything bad that ever happens to them, somehow along the way Regina Griggs, in her pain, was taught to scapegoat her son's sexuality for her own pain. That's why she does it publicly -- because she's not willing (apparently) to really do the work to find out what's hurting her so much, she instead feels the need to shout from the rooftops, and to tribe up with people having similar misplaced reactions to their children's sexuality.

I don't know. I find it sad. My mother is like...10% of Regina on the batsh*t scale, but she was one of those who dreamed too specifically about who her children would be as adults, and so when the ex-gay contingent came along to tell her that everything was ruined because I'm gay, she was in a place of vulnerability that she believed it for a time.

Regina obviously went through that place of vulnerability as well. Then she sat down with a realtor and bought it.

Posted by: Evan | Jan 6, 2009 2:10:21 PM

You know what really blows their minds?
Tell them,
"Oh yes I know it's a choice. I myself am not born gay, I am just ex-straight."

That woman needs a kick in the ass.

Posted by: Strepsi | Jan 6, 2009 2:50:38 PM

What can you say?
If gays aren't rejected by their parents, "ex-gay" organizations will have less business.
People like her will be more alone in their hatred, and their business thrives on that hatred.
It would be interesting to ask her what form of "negative feedback" she agrees with. Kicking gay kids out of their home? Verbally abusing gay kids?
She's the type of person who finds some excuse to complain about legislation to prevent anti-gay bullying...
The more she talks, the more people realize how ugly she is inside...

Posted by: foundit66 | Jan 8, 2009 5:05:51 PM

My son told me that he is gay a few months ago. I hugged him and told him that I would always love him. Whenever he and I visit we hug and say I love you. This is a true statement but what I don't tell him is that while I wish for him to have a wonderful life, I myself am contemplating suicide. My heart has been broken. I am greatful for the wonderful memories of him growing up and will cherish them as my last thoughts. Because he is my child, I will protect him by leaving a note contributing my death to something unrelated to his being gay.

Posted by: sherry | Feb 26, 2009 10:34:25 PM

Sherry: Please, find someone to talk to. Find your local PFLAG chapter. We can help you with this if you would like. Just drop a line: [email protected]

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 27, 2009 6:49:04 AM

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