Lynn’s Story:

Lynn is a facilitator with a youth community group in Prince William County, VA.

I started with PFLAG about a year ago. It was an organization that I had heard of and had respected for a while, but the meetings were just once a month and they were in Manassas, so it was a little difficult to get there. I finally did it though, and it was great. I started off going to meetings, and then they decided they needed another facilitator in order to break into two groups (one for youths and one for adults). I like to work with kids, so I volunteered for the youth group, and went through the training and the background check. I’ve been doing this for about six months now.

My son came out a few years ago, when he was 16 years old. When he first told us, he told me and it was a process coming to terms with it. It wasn’t something that is easy to accept right away. It wasn’t that I was upset that he was gay; so much as I was worried that he was going to be hurt. He wanted to come out to his friends and his family, and I was worried about what his Dad would say, and all that. It’s a protection thing; you don’t want them to get hurt. What I didn’t realize at the time was that what he really needed more than anything was just my approval. It was a process, but we are great now. I think it’s a process for the kid to come out, but it’s also a process for the family too.

When my son first came out, I started to read a lot of books. I read a lot of gay fiction that was mostly for young adults, so that I could be more empathetic with him. You know, I’m older, I have forgotten what it’s like to fall in love, and I wanted to be able to put myself in his shoes. So I read a lot of fiction, and it was really good. I kept thinking: if I could get this into the hands of some kids, they could read these books and maybe know they were okay. When I started with PFLAG, I got to realize my dream and put together a PFLAG youth library – it’s for adults too, but it’s meant for youth books, and it’s pretty successful. I’ve got a lot of friends that are authors now that are sending me books. I just got sent one today, so we keep adding to it, and it’s great!

One moment during my son’s coming out was particularly hard. We had been going to a church that was supposedly really liberal. My son was playing guitar in their band, and he was very close with the youth group. Both of my sons were. My straight son is two years older than my gay son. After my son came out, they just turned their backs so quickly. The youth pastor picked him up and took him in his car without my permission, and told him he was an embarrassment to God. He said other horrible things as well. Luckily, I was home when my son got out of the car, and I could see from his face that something was wrong. That was it for the church. I haven’t been back in one since, and probably will never be

It took my son a long time to feel comfortable in his own skin, and I don’t know if he didn’t want people to know, or what. But he just wasn’t comfortable, and he finally has a boyfriend now. He just got him a couple months ago, and he brought him home to meet us. And then I went down there just last week, and we got to hang out there for a couple days and it was great.  We get along; my husband and I love him; he’s really sweet. But it’s just nice seeing him be able to be comfortable around somebody else, you know to lay on the couch and have their heads on each other’s laps, and stuff, and just… able to be at home in my house. That’s what I want, for both my sons: to be comfortable, to have a safe space.  I guess that’s the happiest right now, is knowing that he went through a lot of stuff, but came out good on the other end.