AuthorGoetz, Laura

When my son came out, I found myself quickly learning how to navigate a new world where he might not be given the same rights and opportunities I expected for him. I was lost in a storm of rhetoric and hate pushing back against my child's future.

Then we found Joe Wilson, a filmmaker, and his husband, Dean Hamer. Wilsons film, Out in the Silence, portrayed LGBTQ+ issues in a rural U.S. town similar to our own. The film captured the transformative power of open dialogue with those who don't share your beliefs.

Hamer's work as an openly gay, Harvardeducated scientist served as an example that my son could succeed in whichever career he chooses. At a time when marriage equality was not federally legal, Wilson and Hamer's decades-long relationship showed us that a full life was possible for LGBTQ+ people even with these restrictions.

We reached out to Wilson and Hamer when we approached our school district to push for an inclusive curriculum. They took the time to answer us, providing advice and support for breaking down barriers that shaped local policy. I was grateful for their guidance in showing me how to make our little community better for my son.

The world our children are growing up in remains awash in homophobic and transphobic messages--from conservative groups pushing to ban books that touch on LGBTQ+ issues to laws being passed to stop even the use of the word "gay" in schools. Many fear that the rights won by the LGBTQ+ community will be erased. With society telling queer youth they shouldn't exist, it's important we show them that LGBTQ+ people are and always have been a vital part of humanity.

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ love but also protest the hate and exclusion that still impact many queer and trans people today. But after the parade confetti is swept away, I encourage you to look for a deeper, lasting connection for your child within their new community. An important part of that is the need for powerful role models.

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