Out and Staying.

I hope I can articulate this with the words needed. This is personal and my personal leads to the public person most see fighting for the improvement of mental health for the LGBTQ community. Feel free not to read. First, I must pause and thank all the individuals tunknownhat helped or hated me along the way.

Both were bumper pads that I bounced around on, creating who I am.

Each child /teen I help in the LGBTQ community I think, ‘that is one that might be able to do it different. With a healthy perspective they can move forward with the understanding that self-worth matters and is work. Growth is work.”

 I fell in love in the 80’s but instead of being able to just say to myself or others, “I am in love” or “this is who I am in love with” (mind you, they were straight and did not know) I started my spinning. People would step in to be a friend or to have a relationship with me and they would be pulled into the cycle until they could take no more. In my head I truly believed; If they saw the real me they would never REALLY love me.

I hurt many people as I was trying to claw my way out of my own skin. I own that.

I was blessed with a son. Being a Mother, being his mother, was more important than anything else in life. He saved me on a daily basis. His smile. His giggle. His unconditional love. I had so much growing up still to do. Losing him was not an option. EVER.

I would have become anything I needed to be in order to keep that boy.

After talking to a counselor concerning how to tell him and then doing so, I was scared. I remember telling him that people may say things about me and that I was gay. He stated, ” Really Mom, isn’t that just between you and God?” ~ Yes, it should be.

I thought, ok, I will be gay in private and straight in public because his safety was my focus. At the time I really thought it would work. As long as I am honest with him and myself I am doing the right thing. I looked like I had it together. He saw the reality. He saw me split myself open and try to find the parts that were really mine. It was not always pretty to watch. We spoke with different counselors, off and on, to make sure we stayed going in a healthy direction.

I remember a conversation with him, my mom, and myself (this was years ago) when I was going to try to do it the RIGHT way. I just wanted peace and a life like others had. I wanted to have family dinners, family insurance, go on vacations and pay taxes as a family. You know, the things that all gay people with children, at that time, had to hide or do without. Anyway, I had dated a couple of guys later in life as an adult. I tried, I did. We had fun but nothing on the inside felt real. So, the three of us are sitting there and I told her I was going out with an interesting woman. Mom said (this is as close to what she said as I can remember), “ I had just hoped that you could keep trying to be straight.” Before I could say anything, because I did love my mother and my son and if I could; I would have been straight for them… My son says (as close as I can remember) , “ She is gay Grandma. She tried. It is weird to ask her to be something else.” 

I dare to say when I came out of the closet no one really even had a reason to still be standing there. Some were however. Unconditional love is a crazy thing.

I had to do a lot of cleaning. My social skills were awful. I did not know how to interact with people honestly. Just like in an alcoholic life; I had spent years playing the role society told me to be in order to keep my son and I had mastered it, I thought.

When my mom died. She and I had come so far since the 90’s when I told her I was gay. She loved her God and her daughter; that was a long road to get to but worth the relationship we received. I had already been working for years on getting healthy and was proud of the growth. With her passing I needed real. I did not have the energy to do a fake representation of who I was at work or what I wanted in relationships. I could not do politically correct. I could not carry anything or anyone. I was raw and broken again; this time I realized it was in a healthy way.

I have been blessed with the powerful freedom of being responsible for my actions. I alone have to decide. Everyday. How will I respect others and myself today? The healthy love of my son, family and self was something I deserved and was willing to continue to work for.

This journey to self-worth was too long. I wasted years learning that sexuality does not decided if I am a worthwhile human. I work with teens in hopes that they don’t have to choke on self-hatred for being gay or live in a closet. I don’t want them to spend years clawing their way out.

Instead teens, I hope that you understand; this is who you are. Pick up the coat and get out of the closet. Society is not responsible for which coat you wear; You are. I hope that being responsible for your actions makes you proud. I hope the actions that don’t make you proud, you work to correct. I hope that you want to be responsible because you know to love yourselves and others as they are.

I am sharing this piece of my story because I can not stand quietly and pretend that there is not a real issue in front of us. I know what self shame, societal shame and bigotry feels and looks like. I don’t want that for our youth.

The wheels of hatred are in motion again towards the LGBTQ community. There will be losses and pain. I want to be standing anywhere but in the closet against it.

Much Respect,

Melinda

http://www.MCPcounseling.com

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Picture This. LGBT Family.

What does your family look like? IMG_5663

Do you have beautiful frames but not sure what the pictures should look like inside them?

The spirit of the LGBT community has always made me smile. As the years have passed,  I see families and wonder what will their frame look like? How will they put the family together? What if you decide to frame the pictures you see, the family you want to have?    ~I think it is possible~

Create pictures that fill your world with joy! As you walk around your house / look at your FaceBook; do you  confirm or deny who you truly are? A division of self can have a ripple effect on your ability to connect with new people. If you are always one of many versions of yourself then you are never just you!

Over two decades ago I started seeing me, not the me that other saw but the me that I can smile at in the mirror. As I have found her she has saved me.

Building relationships based on honesty and truth; not always exciting stuff but very real.

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What part of your picture do you see as you?

* Start to build the family you want. Start with just seeing the picture in the frame.

* What are the possibilities for you today to add to or create part of the frame? Build your frame with courage, strength, understanding, and flexibility.

* Not everyone likes their picture taken, so be patience with those you love. Maybe let them have a frame of their own for a while that is on the same table! 😉

* Your picture is beautiful~ LGBT families are full of love that needs to be hung up for others to see. Years of joy and happiness that screams, “Your Future is possible” to the next generation.

Much Respect,

Melinda Porter

Do the kids know? Coming out to Your Children~

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My Son, My Gift, My Joy…My Life Time of Lessons…

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”

                                                                           Lady Bird Johnson, former U.S. first lady

Oh, the gift of being a parent. I think I learn the most when dealing with my son. He is now a marine about to be married, but still, I learn. I have learned that honesty connects us and dishonesty places a wedge between us. I know that as a parent it is my job to handle stress in a way that models how he can do it or not… later in his life. My goal is to let him see me work through struggles but yet not be responsible for them as the child.

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Telling your children that you are LGBT is not an easy conversation, accepting that will allow you to move pass the fear of doing it wrong. There is no ‘right or wrong’ way. The ‘talk’ can be awkward, uncomfortable, difficult or damaging. So~ PLAN!

* It is not the child’s job to make you comfortable or to make it easier.
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* You are the parent, make sure the conversation is age appropriate, using understandable terms and statements.

* Go over the conversation with a counselor or trusted adult friend. These are your children, they are worth the energy of planning a healthy conversation.

* Do not share more than asked~Your children are NOT your best friends. Sharing too much can be damaging, so respect yourself and them!

* Let them know you will be happy to answer appropriate question or let them talk to someone (i.e. counselor) if they want.IMG_5432

* Understand that they have a right to grieve the loss of what they thought to be true and what they now know…respect their space but stay present.

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You do not have to be perfect…my son would have fired me years ago if so! You have to be the loving parent you were before the conversation~that is your job! To love them…and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If the conversation did not produce what was needed for your family to work, talk to someone, then try it again.

Much Respect,

Melinda Porter MA

Teens/Parents in the LGBT Community…

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Respecting the parent and the teen is possible!

How did we get here? A question you might be asking yourself. I challenge you to flip it!

Here we are…so, let’s do this!

Being a parent of a LGBT teen provides different questions to ask yourself. How can I support my child if I don’t believe that this is really them? I don’t believe in being ‘gay’; how can I still love my child? Or I see that they are who they are…but I’m still the parent and how do I support them safely?

All of these questions are logical at any time during your teens growth; take out the concept of LGBT and you still have valid parenting questions. You are doing your job if you are still asking questions and growing!

LGBT Teens are still teens and need to be raised as such! They still have to follow family rules and complete family chores. You can still not like who they are dating and who their friends are. It is the why that matters! Trust the teen you are raising to make choices you have modeled for them.

Provide safety in the conversations you have with them; not judgmental. The talking, the conversation, is the gift your child brings to you.

* Provide information and learn together. If they are questioning their sexuality, support the child not the concept by finding healthy information about the community and how they can learn about themselves while living in your home.

* You are the parent, monitor their friends. Healthy friends (you and your child can list what that will look like.) YOU WILL NOT LIKE ALL THEIR FRIENDS; that is a fact of parenting. ARE THEY HEALTHY; do they promote well-being in your teen? Remember the gay teen that you dislike your child being around, is someone else’s child and they might be full of the same questions.

* There is a dangerous side to everything in life. The internet is a FABULOUS place to find safe group meetings and activities. Please remember that it also has lots of people that look for children with parents that try to ignore or hate the ‘gay’ fact away…they wait until your teen can’t take another day isolated…then they are there. So find safe together; maybe even together and uncomfortable…but together.

* Your teen loves you. Most do not look at someone of the same sex and say, “Now that would really hurt my family!” Most of the time there is immediate shame and fear of who they are on the inside. They need you.

Here you are! You and that sweet child becoming an adult…Here you can stand together…

“If I have to pick a day I can make a difference in….Today…would be the answer!” 

@MCPorterLPC

Much Respect,

Melinda Porter MA

Summer with "Family" and Family…

ImageSummer is a great time to get together with the ones you love!

That can look any way you decide for it to. Make your summer fun for you by building your calendar of solutions first. What will that look like? What are the possibilities you have?

*If you know, just as in any family, that members do not get along then set up dates to be with different sections. Instead of taking on everyone at one time; take small portions. Allow you and your partner to be a team in supporting each other during the difficult interactions.

* If you are introducing your new partner to your family this summer; set it up for success. Introduce them to someone who is warm and welcoming first and allow them to establish a connection. Then add members into the mix; no need to overwhelm them with 25 people who don’t like the fact that you are in love. View the decision-making as respecting your partner and yourself by allow your level of stress to not skyrocket. Remember, these are people you love meeting someone you one, handle with care.

* If this summer is your coming out; make it about being you not about your family. You have been living in your mind for your whole life; your family has been on the outside of that mind. They might have known something was different but until it is talked about, it is simply not the same. Being you is being the person they love, so let them love you, even if that takes some uncomfortable conversations to get there. Set yourself time limits for conversation and then step back to breathe (everyone). The steps may not be easy but they are doable!

Be at peace with the journey and know that there will be ups and downs…work to set up successful interactions; that may be 10 minutes in the same room with no one killing the other or hugs for all! You will not know the outcome until you attempt the journey.

Much Respect,

Melinda Porter MA