The other night I had the honor of leading a discussion with the parents, teens, and friends of PFLAG LA. This group of parents and kids are dedicated to making change in the world by creating a place where they can speak out and speak their truth.
A question that came up for me is, who is the coming out process harder for, the parent or the teen?
In talking with the teens, they had to face the misunderstanding and sometimes outright hatred of being different in a school environment that encoureages everyone to fit in and not push any boundaries. During a period in their lives where they are already feeling the angst of changing bodies and changing ideas of who they are, the extra stress and turbulence of defining their sexual identity can become overwhelming. And while going through this experience, there are very few sources of support or safety.
Meanwhile, parents are also having to shift their ideas about their child and the dreams they had for them, having to find a means to interpret this new aspect of their child's identity. Parenst may also feel community and religious pressure and it is just as vital for parents to find the people and places where they can find the support they need.
So the question becomes, who has the bigger challenge in coming out?