Talking About Pride

Coming Out of the Closet

I decided to use an actual definition for this one, because I understand that not everyone may be clear on this one. I also think it’s the respectful thing to do. I’ve got friends and family members in the community, so I’m very clear on what this term means. Planned Parenthood- Coming Out Definition

It’s a hard process. Some people choose to wait until a certain time, some never do. It’s an individual choice, and should be respected. If someone comes out to you, please respect that person’s decision to tell you, even if it isn’t within your own values. It takes a lot to say “I’m a lesbian” or “I like guys”, or however it is said.

There is a lot of fear in coming out, however. Many people fear these things:

  • not being accepted. If there is a history of hearing homophobic slurs throughout life, it’s going to be hard to go against that.
  • getting cut off financially/becoming homeless- especially in teens and college students. Some wait until after college for this reason.
  • anxiety, depression or other mental health issues worsening afterwards due to above issues.

There is so much more support these days for the LGBTQ+ community. I feel there is a long way to go in the legal world, but it’s coming. Marriages were a huge issue a couple years ago and I shed tears when they became legal everywhere. I believe some states are still trying to fight that one. Macklemore had it right when he said in “Same Love”- “No freedom until we’re equal/ Damn right I support it”.

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Pride Events

Have you ever been to a Pride event? I have been to quite a few. Louisville is a big city and every June, there’s a huge Pride event. This year’s event is June 15-17, with lots of food (my main requirement for anything), music and a lot of other fun things. I usually see a lot of friends while I’m there. It’s so much fun. If you’ve never been, and you’re comfortable going, go. If you aren’t sure if there is an event near you, try looking on Google “pride events” and your city or the nearest city to you. Not everyone lives in or near a big city.

These events began as a way for people to get together, have fun, be themselves, meet others and not fear being judged or getting hurt. Of course, this didn’t always go well but over the years, the events have become safer. There will always be those that oppose these events.

The Kid Version

I have a friend, Kate, that is happily raising a son, with her wife, Christy. Lucas just turned two, and he is the happiest toddler that I’ve seen in a long time. I hope he stays that adorably happy. They got married in Hawaii a few years ago and the pictures were adorable. I know they have struggles like everyone else, but they’re one of the cutest couples I’ve ever known. Lucas is like every other toddler out there- he just has two loving moms.

I wrote a post not long ago, LGBTQ Kids: A Guide for those who need a bit of help figuring out how to navigate the waters of having a child that is LGBTQ. This is becoming more common than people realize and I wanted to bring that to your, my readers’, attention. If you know someone who could benefit from it, feel free to send them the link. I think it could help parents who aren’t sure what to do. We don’t always know what to do as parents, or even aunts, uncles, and so on. That’s okay. That’s why we ask others for ideas and read up.

Kids are pretty smart. They can tell who accepts them and who doesn’t. They’ll stay closest to those that do. All kids, no matter their sexuality, need someone who loves and accepts them exactly for who they are. They don’t need or deserve ridicule for who they love. They have enough to worry about.

Mental Health Issues in The Community

Anxiety and depression are common in many people. When you are struggling with hiding who you are (or feeling like you have to), losing someone you love and having to start over in a small pool of people and not feeling fully accepted,things can get very hard.

Drugs, alcohol and self harm are three coping skills that are used by this population. Sometimes it can be deadly. There are therapists that specialize in LGBTQ issues.

This may be a good time to look into how you can become an ally or otherwise support the LGBTQ people in your life. How can you be an ally?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Song Lyric Saturday with Jewel

I like older music, so here we are.

I loved Jewel and wished for years that she would make new music. Why? Songs like “Hands”

The world we live in is a wild, scary and seemingly awful one. Kindness matters a lot. It almost seems like people have forgotten how to be kind.

I’m trying to raise three kind people. I want them to help others when they can even if it’s something as small as opening a door for someone. My mom has mobility issues due to her knee and we have an awful driveway. The kids often help her down the driveway so she doesn’t fall. They volunteer- we usually don’t have to ask.

I try to be kind to others- it isn’t a hard thing to do. I compliment someone’s outfit or makeup. I tell them to have a good day. It may be small but you never know how much that helps. You don’t know what people are dealing with.

Matthew does have a kind heart, it’s actually one of my favorite things about him. It’s what led to him bringing the lovely Miss Purr home almost two years ago as a tiny 1 year old. She weighed four pounds then and even at a full grown seven pounds, she’s still small. We love her a ton. He helps his family with fixing things because he’s really good at it.

Kindness matters.

What do you do to spread kindness?

LGBTQ Kids: A Guide

Parenting is full of challenges. We face them everyday- food allergies, mental and/or physical disabilities, bullying, and the list goes on.

There’s a point in life in which our kids decide to date and none of us are ever ready for that- it freaks us out. This happens as early as 12 or 13 (Cameron is 13 and hasn’t thought about a girl yet. This is fine with me.) or can be years later. Most of us don’t blink an eye at who they will date, because we just assume they will date someone of the opposite sex, right?

What Happens When They Don’t?

I’ve already thought this one out. I don’t care. As long as my kids find someone that loves and supports them, I honestly don’t care who they date. Race isn’t an issue for obvious reason, and that’s not the topic of the post. I just want my kids to be happy with whoever they love. That’s it. If Lily brings home a girl and they get married, then I get to watch them say yes to the dress or whatever they wear.

My best male friends are gay, and my cousin Jason is now my cousin Julie, thanks to the wonders of surgery. She is brave as hell for coming out as transgender and having surgery. She even changed her birth certificate in Florida. Our family embraced her in her changes and barely batted an eye. There’s really no point in ridiculing someone for being who they are. You can’t change someone’s sexuality.

Lgbt flag, kids, parenting

Being a teen is hard enough as it is today. There’s so much pressure to get great grades, fit in, get into a good college, work, and so on. When you’re a 16 year old girl who likes other girls, it gets a bit harder to be “normal”. You wonder if others would still like you, even your own family. You grew up hearing slurs about homosexuals and you know it’s not going to be great if you tell your parents.

Then there’s the boys who want to date you and you know they won’t stay away forever. All you want is to find a girl that likes you and that you like back, but how does that work? It’s confusing and scary. Bullying is a thing, and LGBTQ teens have it harder.

Stats hrc.org, kids, LGBTQ

Coming out is scary. It’s rough. The average age is 17, much younger than it used to be according to a British study found on Everyday Feminism

Teens are smart- they know the risks of telling their families something this big. Some families are accepting, and some families are ready to kick their kids right out of the house, which is a shame.

It’s heartbreaking to know that some kids feel they have to hide this part of themselves, because it can lead to drug and/or substance abuse issues, along with mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. A kid can only mask so much for so long. It does get better, time goes by, people do open their minds to new things.

Sometimes the people they think will have horrible reactions will have the opposite reaction. The negative messages are also an issue- they can send a message that a kid is a bad person, or is “going to hell”, etc. This can just add to already negative thoughts that a kid can have about themselves.

It gets better when LGBTQ kids find others like them- online, in school, through other friends, in other ways. It does help that many LGBTQ kids are out to their friends and classmates. Those friends and classmates, for the most part, are accepting, and can be a great source of support.

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What Can Parents Do?

  • Let them know you love them. I’m pretty sure this is the biggest part of accepting your child, no matter what. They need to know this. The scariest thing to many LGBTQ kids is coming out. Once they know they have parental support, there is a huge sense of relief. Be as open minded and present as you can be, even if you aren’t quite sure what to do.
  • Research. Parenting requires a lot of thinking and reading. We don’t always know what to do. That’s why the Internet exists. There are quite a few websites for parents of LGBTQ kids, including Hopkins Medicine
  • Talk about it. This doesn’t mean hound about their sex life, because that’s definitely awkward for everyone involved, but let them know you are there when they need you, if they have questions, etc.
  • Remember this is not a “phase”, there is no “cure”, and there is nobody to “blame”.
  • Watch out for bullying at school. It’s a reality that LGBTQ kids are bullied at school and other places. If you need to, get involved with the school. You can read Bullying: A Closer Look for more ideas and resources.
  • Talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed.

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The world of teenage dating can get pretty complicated, this is just a different road. It’s possible to walk together with your child. Cheer them on!

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Statistics pics courtesy of hrc.org

Info can be found on:

Everyday Feminism

Hopkins Medicine

Breaking Down While Black

I have been a black woman in therapy. I have a history of mental illness on either side of my family- my dad attempted suicide and I’ve lost an uncle. I have a cousin with SMI (severe mental illness) and another with depression. My grandmother may have had bipolar disorder, but that was never confirmed.

Me? I have had issues with anxiety and depression for years. Julian spent a year in extensive group therapy for social skills. Lily is currently in therapy for anxiety.

I chose to highlight a very important issue in the black community-mental health and its stigma. February is Black History Month.

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The Reality in the Community

In many black families, being anxious or depressed, for example, is a sign of weakness. There’s no space for that and so there’s a lot of denial or ignoring. It can be embarrassing to talk about bc you’ll be seen as “crazy”. This can make things a lot worse. Black Women and Mental Illness

Mental illness can lead to physical illness. Anxiety can lead to issues with breathing and our hearts. Depression can lead to weight gain and related issues. In a manic episode, people can hurt themselves unintentionally. These are just a few examples.

Limited resources also play a huge role. There’s not always access to therapy and/or getting medication. This and simply not knowing about the illness can be a huge boulder in the way of getting the help we need. If you are struggling and need to prioritize, the money you do have is going towards major needs, not meds or therapy. 

In some families (not in mine, neither of my parents are very religious) religion plays a factor. The main thought is “why go to therapy if you can pray about it?”

This doesn’t always fix everything but it can help. It also leads to ridicule and can be very hurtful. 3 Reasons We Neglect Mental Health in the Black Community

There are also concerns about therapy itself and its effectiveness. This creates a fear of the unknown, which keeps many from seeking help. Some even believe therapy was made by and for white people. They’re afraid of being hospitalized for their needs when most of the time, that isn’t the case.

Like other groups of people, the cost is a major factor. This is one of the biggest barriers to getting effective therapy.

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Possible Solutions

Make therapy affordable. Time after time, mental health is among the first things to go when lawmakers work on budgets. There have been so many cuts to places in my area, and I’m in a large city. I’m also in a what I call a backward state- Kentucky. Our lawmakers are a bit less than forward thinking when it comes to mental health care. Centers are closing or taking fewer patients.

Educate in all areas- about mental illness and tx options. This is incredibly important. If you don’t know anything about your diagnosis, it’s hard to care for yourself. There are many options- therapy, meds, non-medication, etc.

Reduce fears. It can be scary to get help, no matter where you are in your journey. If potential patients know what they are walking into these fears can be lessened.

Make mental health a priority. Encourage everyone to care for their mental health like they would their physical health. Help stop the stigma. Share your story, if that’s your thing. Check in on those you care about.

Why African-Americans avoid Psychotherapy

If you need a place to look to start your search for therapy, please see: Better Help

What can you do to reduce the stigma?

Every Mom’s Battle 

Every mom has to make many decisions- one of the biggest being whether to work or stay home. This is debated in many groups, on many blogs and between friends and family members. In the end, it’s up to the parents involved.

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The Current Situation

I’m at home. I believe I’ve made my BA work very hard for me and I’ve made all the money I took out in loans to get it and then some. If you haven’t seen my “About Me” page, spoiler alert: my BA is in Clinical Psychology. Matthew works full time, and this arrangement works. We’ve worked on our budget a bit and until I find another job, we’re good. Not everyone is this lucky, so I’m glad I’m able to stay at home while working on my blog.
For the most part, working wasn’t really an option. I had to work. The kids were smaller and preschool is wildly expensive. Luckily, Matthew’s mother watched the kids and when she wasn’t able to any longer, my mom stepped in. We never had to worry about daycare. Many parents I know do. As the kids have gotten older, of course, their needs have grown with them.

I’ve had a couple of rough years- emotionally and physically. I quit a job I loved unexpectedly after Jake’s death. I did have my 403b from that job to help out while I got myself back together. I didn’t work for a couple months- I wasn’t fit to. I could barely get out of bed.

In the same time, I’ve also had issues that led to a partial thyroidectomy last year. NOT FUN. The recovery took a while. I’ve also struggled to manage these migraines.

I haven’t been able to find anything that I loved nearly as much as the job I left in 2015, but I’m hoping to soon.

That’s my story. What’s yours?

No Shaming Here

It’s a hard decision and shouldn’t be shamed. If a woman, or, hell, anyone, wants to stay at home, let them be. I thought I’d bored being at home, but thanks to a messy house and this blog, that’s not a problem. I didn’t give up working forever- I’m taking a break. My brain works quite well on a daily basis. I’m also working on taking care of my physical health.

Everyone’s situation is different- respect that and move on. It might not be for you. That’s okay. I didn’t think staying at home was for me. No need to bash someone over their life choices. It’s hard being the mom that misses field trips, class parties and all the other fun stuff at school. Give the working moms you know a bit of slack. They need it more than you think.

Feel free to comment. I want to know your thoughts!