Somewhere over the rainbow...

This article was written a number of years ago by Brenda Oakes and now sits alongside her ‘Brenda’s Story’.

When doing workshops or giving talks I often hear the phrase “I never realised how this affects parents,” which is understandable as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person has so much to deal with in this still highly prejudiced society. They have to find a way to live their lives almost certainly being on the receiving end of hostility when daring to be who they are.

So how are parents affected? Recently I found myself at a supper with half a dozen elderly ladies just like me! I felt like a friendly alien. It was a cathartic experience, not unpleasant, these were nice people - it was me who had changed - a lot!

Looking back I remember when our son came out as like being picked up by a whirlwind and coming down in a different place, just like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. At first it was scary and strange, but it gradually became a familiar and friendly and happy place to be - but always somewhere where old friends cannot be.
Unlike Dorothy one doesn’t go back. I’m still there, but trying to live in both worlds. One day I’m sure everyone will understand LGBT issues and people won’t be made to feel like outsiders in their own country. I feel so fortunate to have had the company of thousands of lovely parents, families and LGBT people on my whirlwind trip and I wouldn’t have missed it, nor would I return to where I used to be.

The huge task for parents like me is to convince the rest that the place we live in is “a green and pleasant land” where our dear children live.

Dorothy’s friends had to look for courage, heart and mind, and we and the LGBT community have to do the same to counteract ignorance and prejudice.

I’m sure, on returning to Kansas, they were never the same again, but were much nicer and wiser people.

I looked round my friend’s lounge at the kindly elderly faces I was at supper with and was glad of my whirlwind. I was also glad at the end of the evening to step back out of their world into mine.

I just wish I could sing like July Garland!

Rob Briggs