Many parents experience difficulties in communicating with family and friends about their child's sexuality. We find that this is especially true of parents who come from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities.
Some BME parents live in fear of their communities finding out that they have a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) child. They fear for their son or daughter's safety if it were to become common knowledge. They also fear that they themselves will be blamed and that the family might lose its standing in the community.
Even within the family, some parents are unable to talk to close family members - their siblings, their other children or even each other. This leaves parents isolated and afraid. There is no safe space in which they can ask questions or discuss things. Many need opportunities to explore their own beliefs because they come from countries where homosexuality is illegal, or because their religion teaches that it is a sin.
There are some parents who turn their children away when they find out that they are LGBT. This is true of some white parents and Christian parents as well.
Our experience at Families Together London has been different. Black and Muslim parents do come to our meetings. For some, it has been the first time that they have been able to talk freely and to meet other parents. Those parents who have come to our meetings have shown enormous courage in remaining loyal to their children and accepting them as they are, some even in the face of opposition from their extended families. We have learned so much from them.
For more from this daughter, click here.
'Black people need to stop treating homosexuality as if it's a white man's disease...'
See Topher Campbell's article: 'Black, gay and invisible' at www.guardian.co.uk Sunday 08.11.09.
'A UK charity is dealing with an increasing number of young gay Muslims becoming homeless after fleeing forced marriages and so-called honour violence' see http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/england/8446458.stm
Positive role models
In the article below, Topher Campbell talks about the invisibility of lesbian and gay people in the BME community. Our sons and daughters need to see more out LGB people from the BME community, such as:
Angela Davis (1944 - ) Civil rights activist
Alice Walker (1944 - ) Activist and writer
Freddie Mercury (1946 - 1991) Singer/musician
Simon Nkoli (1957 - 1998) Anti-apartheid activist
Justin Fashanu (1961 - 1998) Footballer
Gok Wan (1974 - ) Fashion guru
Lord Waheed Alli (1964 - ) a Muslim, the first openly gay peer in the
Lord Waheed Alli
FFLAG provides support materials which have been translated into Urdu and Hindi, obtainable from www.fflag.org.uk: 'A Guide for Families and Friends' booklets in Urdu: £1.25 each, Cassette in Hindi: £2.00 each
Galva: Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association - www.galva108.org
Al-Fatiha foundation, promoting progressive Islamic notions of peace, equality and justice - www.al-fatiha.org
Imaan is a website for Muslim lesbians and gays - www.imaan.org.uk Choose: 'For Parents'
The Safra Project, for lesbian, bisexual and/or trangender women who identify as Muslim religiously and/or culturally - www.safraproject.org
Sarbat, for followers of the Sikh religion - www.sarbat.net
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) - www.lgcm.org.uk
Catholic group linked to LGCM - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians - www.eflgc.org
See also our section on: Religion
The Naz Project London supports South Asian and Middle Eastern gay and bisexual men - there is a group for men of 16-25 - www.naz.org.uk
Naz Monya - a project for African men who have sex with men - www.naz.org.uk
UK Blackout - www.ukblackout.com
Those wishing to include LGBT issues when celebrating Black History Month will find ideas on: www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk