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 For Parents of Gay and Lesbian Catholics

Peer Support

Catholic parents support groups are peer support groups. The concept of peer support has been well established in industry and schools for over twenty years. Who better to understand what someone is experiencing, to say to you‚ Are you okay, when you're not okay, then someone who has experienced a similar event in their own life.

However, peer support requires that the supporters accept certain responsibilities in order to provide the optimum opportunity for positive support and acceptance to occur. Supporters must first and foremost be good listeners. Empathy and understanding are important also but new group members are experiencing a great deal of emotion, anxiety, fear and confusion about their feelings. The purpose of peer support is to provide a comfortable and safe environment and opportunity for a Catholic parent who is dealing with their child' homosexuality to express their feelings, fears, and questions in their own way and in their own time and in their own words. Peer supporters must refrain from telling others how they should feel or what they should do. Peer supporters provide feedback as to how they felt and how they responded to similar situations in their lives.

What may have been good for one person may not necessarily be the best advice for another. Allowing someone to hear how others have felt, reacted, responded, or dealt with the multitude of feelings and situations associated with their children' homosexuality and their religious beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic church is much more productive and supportive. It permits a person to see options, compare, and understand that many of their questions and concerns are complex and will not be resolved easily or quickly. However, by being more knowledgeable and having a better understanding of their emotions, Church teachings, and homosexuality they can begin to understand that what they are experiencing is normal and natural. There may also be a realization what someone is experiencing is not necessarily correct or healthy emotionally, physically of spiritually.

Parents, especially new group members, need to hear and understand that their child is not condemned by the Catholic Church for being gay and their family values and unity need not be compromised. The goal is to replace ignorance with knowledge, fear with confidence, and tolerance with acceptance. It is truly a "Road less traveled."

The new members of the group will eventually become the tenured members. Those who come for support will become those who provide the support. The need to receive will be replaced by the need to give. At times the best one can offer is just being present and allow a new person the opportunity to enter a living room filled with other parents and realize they are not alone.

The difference between the Catholic Parents support group and others for parents of gays and lesbians is its religious foundation and presence of a Catholic priest. Catholic parents typically experience a lack of knowledge about Church teachings and base their beliefs on outdated Church teachings, stereotypes, misconceptions, and ignorance. The participation of a priest allows for a direct dialog about Church teachings and the Church' acceptance of gays and lesbians and inclusion in the Church of their baptism.

Tips for Parents

  • Don't expect immediate, 100% enthusiasm or cooperation from everyone, even your family members or gay child. It is a threatening topic for many people for many different reasons.
  • Don't project the image that your concerns are only for your gay child. A parents love and concern for their children' safety, physical and emotional and spiritual health, dignity, self esteem, religious beliefs and salvation are universal.
  • Don't fail to keep someone, a confidant or trusted friend, who will listen to you, informed of problems, developments, successes, and disappointments.
  • Don't be afraid to talk about your gay child. There may be times when you feel uncomfortable talking about them for fear of mentioning that they are gay. The time or place to mention that you have a gay child is of your choosing.
  • Don't be discouraged by the ignorance of others.

Parent Groups

  • Los Angeles/South Bay
    Contact Carolyn or Robert, 310 835 1481
  • Simi Valley/Conejo
    Fourth Wednesday of the month, 7:30 p.m.
    Contact John or Chris, 805 522 4861
  • Santa Barbara/Ventura
    Fourth Tuesday of the month, 7:30 p.m.
    Call Joe or Kathie, 805 687 4338
  • San Fernando/San Gabriel Valleys (Spanish)
    Call Luis or Armida 818 846 8721
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