Loving Your Child Is The First Thing Listed In Your Job Description As A Parent And An LGBT+ Label Shouldn't Change That

Loving Your Child Is The First Thing Listed In Your Job Description As A Parent And An LGBT+ Label Shouldn't Change That

Love Your Children No Matter What
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From the time you are born until the age of about 13, your parents applaud everything you do. They put every macaroni masterpiece you make in preschool on the fridge, they frame every poem you write in elementary school, and they come to every school play in the 6th grade, even if you only have one line. But around the time you start “creating yourself” some parents stop supporting your accomplishments. For example, if you are a boy and a freshman in high school, your dad expects you to try out for the football team.

But if you throw him a curve ball and decide to take chorus and audition for the school play instead, there is a chance he won’t come to every concert and show, like he would come to every game. It is the same if you are a girl and you don't want to wear a dress to your prom, there is a possibility your mom won’t want to go bow tie shopping with you. Don't get me wrong, some moms and dads will still support their children no matter what, but I am writing this for the parents that don’t. I’m writing this for the parents that wish their children were different, for the parents who don't believe in what their children believe, and for the parents who don't love who their children love.

Often times you hear horror stories about kids coming out to their parents. Some are neglected and kicked out, some are sent to military schools or religious camps, some are grounded, and some families act as if their child isn't even a part of their family anymore. All because of who they are choosing to love. Well, lucky for me, my family was different. When I told my mom and dad I had a girlfriend, they were so happy for me. They supported me and welcomed my girlfriend. They told me they loved me no matter what and that they were happy as long as I was happy. I didn't have to pretend to be someone I wasn't because my mom and dad loved me just the way I was.

I have never been a parent. So I am not sure how it feels to bring another human into this world. But based on all the books and movies and parents I have seen, it is the greatest thing. Parents love their children more than they love themselves. They would do anything for them. They are not happy unless their child is happy. I am not even a parent and I think it is one of the best things you can do in your life. I thought that was how every mother and father felt. That is until they start making you feel bad for who you are.

My best friend went through the same exact thing that I did. However, her parents have not come around like mine have. Her parents don’t refer to her girlfriend as her girlfriend. They make her feel bad for the way she dresses. They are not letting her tell other family members that she is gay. Her parents repeatedly tell her how they wish she wasn't the way she is, how they don’t approve of the way she is living her life, and how they will never accept her.

She has never felt supported by her parents and if you've never experienced that, I can promise you it is a really crappy feeling. You think bullies at school are bad, imagine having the bullies in your own home. I’ve seen her battle depression and self-harm because she’s not receiving the love and support she needs from her family. The people who were once her number one fans hate the way she’s living her life.

As heartbreaking as my best friend’s story is, it could be much worse. When I was a senior in high school, I was the president of my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club. This was a club for all grades that was a safe place for LGBT+ students and their allies to get support, share their stories, talk about current issues, and get involved in the LGBT+ community.

There were members of that club who had been kicked out of their house and were living with friends or family members. Kids who weren’t even old enough to drive had to find another place to live and different caregivers because their parents didn’t want them if they were LGBT+. Some of the members were at some point or still are dealing with suicidal thoughts. They would rather take their own life that deals with the fact that their parents didn’t love or accept them.

Not loving your child can and will do tremendous damage to them. They will begin to feel worthless. If the two people who loved them the most become the people who don't love them at all, they will question if anyone could love them. Their self-hate will rise and their happiness will plummet. And it is hard because being a child, you thought your happiness was your parent's first priority, but now you feel as if your parents could care less if you're happy or not. How does it feel to know that you’ve ruined your child’s outlook on life? To know that your child has begun to hate themselves because you’ve rejected them? To know that you're responsible for taking away your child’s positivity?

So how can parents go from being willing to run across the world for their child, to not accepting them at all? Why is the change of sexual orientation enough to make your love for the person you brought into this world lessen? I know I have never given birth to someone but I think you should love your child no matter what, you should be happy for your child if they are happy, and you should support your child in all of the life decisions they make. They did nothing wrong and they need your acceptance, support, and love.

Love your children. Support your children. Accept your children. Love your children no matter who they love. Support them even if they become someone you didn't expect they would, even if they follow a different life path than you want them to, and even if they disappoint you.

Accept your children because even if they don't say it, your acceptance is the only one that matters to them. Love them because it is the first thing listed in your job description as parents. Love them because they deserve to be loved by you. Love your children because your love is the only real love they have ever known and you cannot just take that away. Love your children because they love you and love them no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Cory Woodward

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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If You Think Belly Dancing Is Sexual, You're Missing The Whole Point

Believe it or not, exposed stomachs aren't inherently sexual.

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What we know as belly dancing here in America started in the middle east as a way for mothers to teach their daughters how to isolate certain muscles that they would use in childbirth, thus making the process an easier one when it was their time to go through it.

This cultural dance began with mothers teaching daughters behind closed doors where men weren't allowed to watch. It's possible that this fact helped cause some of the negative stigmas behind it by people who do not know its true origin.

Long story short (because I'm not looking to place false facts in this article), belly dancing moved over to America after a while and it wasn't necessarily accepted at first. Today, there is a multitude of belly dancing styles, including belly dance fusion which combines more traditional dancing with modern takes on it by blending multiple cultures or dancing styles.

You're probably wondering why a white girl such as myself is trying to educate you on something that clearly isn't a part of my own culture. Well, for those of you who don't know (or who couldn't recognize me from the cover photo), I belly dance at my university as part of an extracurricular club.

This club is easily one that I am most passionate about. I joined the club in my first semester as a freshman and have stuck with it for the past six semesters, and plan to stick with it for my last two. I came into the club with little previous dance experience and no previous belly dance experience, much like almost everyone else I've seen come and go.

I've heard of professors at my school who said they wouldn't go to our shows because it "made him uncomfortable." Why? Because our stomachs are out and we're moving our hips? That doesn't make our dancing inherently sexual.

We have a rule within our club that if any of us go out to parties, we cannot use belly dancing moves to try to woo guys or girls. Because guess what? That's not the point of belly dancing.

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