Walk down the memory lane and live the story of
Little Dima and I
Studying the camera
Godmother Lyuba, Dima and I
Dima, almost all grown up
I thought my family was perfect
My son is gay.
Shortly before Dima’s 17th birthday, when I was cooking in the kitchen while all up in my thoughts he stood by me and said, “Mom, we have to talk. Please sit down. I want to tell you something.” That is when Dima came out to me. He told me that it is not a disability, not a crime. That was just the person he was. He is the way he is. And I have to try to accept him.
…But how? How do I do this? I would have given all the money of the world for it to not exist, for it to not to be true. He asked me to allow him to be happy, but through tears, I swore that I would save him. He repeated, “Let me live the way I am.” And how should I live now? Did someone think of me?
And Dima did.
One day he came up to me again and said that he feels for how hard it is for me and he sees how I suffer alone with my thoughts. That day he asked me to come to Kyiv for a meeting of “Tergo”. He said that there will be parents of children like him. He said that they will understand me there, will hear me out and support me. And I went there. Dima bought me the ticket himself, I did not even argue. I felt that it was important for him and it was what I needed.
On the first meeting with other parents I was crying. I was telling my story and crying. The same happened on the second meeting. And on the third one too. It is not easy to change opinions even in regards to your own child. It is not simple to understand and comprehend that it is truly the kind of person he is. To understand that he can’t be changed. Until the very end,you want to believe that it was a parenting mistake or some type of illness that can be cured. But no. And this “no” hits the hardest.
It is hard to believe that it depends on the genes. We, his parents, are normal. Then why is he not like that, not normal? “It can’t be like that,” I used to say. Other parents said the same. And then you learn about various studies. At first, you are still searching there for that string of hope that will help save the “normal” in your child, but soon the realisation hits that it is a “variation of the norm”. That it is also “normal”. And something inside begins to change.
The breaking point happens when you begin to realise that all your fears and thoughts about the orientation of your child are mere stereotypes. Things that you never even bothered to figure out. You were just thinking the same way everyone else does.
My path to acceptance of my son was not easy.
I abandoned him, left him alone, but I found
strength in myself to return to him.
To return in order to say the most important thing
"I could have never imagined that these words from mom were what I had always needed".
Don’t have to be scared that my loved ones
will turn their backs on me.
Can be myself.
And not feel like a stranger in this world.
Can just be a son again.
Just a child of my parents.
Every person, every child in the world, regardless of who they are,
needs to hear these three words from their loved ones...
“re-Parents” is a project that tells the real stories of parents who overcame barriers and stereotypes on the way to acceptance of their children who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
When walking through the rooms of the acceptance story, each visitor lives through a part of the parents' lives. One can experience being in their shoes, feel the difficulty of coming out and, together with parents, achieve acceptance of their loved ones.
The project was implemented with the participation of non-governmental organisations all over Ukraine, namely: Gender Z, Insha, KyivPride, Liga, Sphere and Educational Center for Human Rights in Lviv with the support of the National Democratic Institute in Ukraine and the governments of Great Britain, Sweden, and Canada. The idea and design of the project belong to the digital-creative agency ISD Group. The technical development of the website belongs to the front-end studio Coderiver.
If you support the LGBTQ+ community, you are a tolerant person. One of many different diverse equal people of Ukraine. Declare your support! Join the Manifesto of Tolerance! Show that the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ members are as valuable as yours.
Raise your hand in support of tolerance on the riznirivni.com.ua website.
Maybe you or your loved ones have a question about LGBTQ+. Below you can find a contact information of non-governmental organisations as well as useful links that can come in handy during difficult life situations and answer relevant questions.
All-Ukrainian initiative “TERGO” — a non-profit Ukrainian public organization, a community of LGBT parents and children (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons). It provides psychological assistance and promotes the acceptance of children by their parents.
LGBT Association “Liga” — a non-governmental organisation that deals with questions and issues of protection of rights and preservation of health of LGBT community’s members, and supports parents of LGBT children. The association opened community centers for LGBT members in Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kherson, and Kyiv.
Gender Z — a human rights organisation that deals with a wide scope of questions concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, gender equality, overcoming stereotypes regarding LGBT community, women and other groups discriminated against.
KyivPride — a non-governmental organisation that organizes the largest and most visible LGBT+ event in Ukraine, a uniting national platform that connects general state institutions, national and regional citizens’ initiatives, art, business and other allies in order to promote LGBT+ presence and unite in a common effort to resolve issues that the community faces.
Educational Center for Human Rights in Lviv — a non-governmental organisation founded by people with varying backgrounds and occupations that earned a good reputation in the city. It is responsible for organising educational events to popularise the values of human rights and equality in Lviv and Ukraine.
Charitable organisation “Insha” — an LGBT inclusive feminist organisation in Kherson. The work is devoted to educational, advocacy and creative projects that promote the values of the LGBT community.
NGO “Kharkiv Women’s Association ‘Sphere” — a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation established with a goal to enforce the influence of women and women’s communities in society by organising educational platforms and platforms directed at women’s self-fulfillment.
A lecture by Volodymyr Stanchyshyn — “How sexuality is shaped”.
A trained psychologist explains what sexuality is in a broad sense, how it is shaped, and how gender identity is understood.
A library of the human rights organization Gender Z.
General information about the LGBT movement, symbols, and equality march
No one can be forced to become gay or lesbian. Modern medicine keeps on refuting previously common socio-psychological theories of formation of sexual orientation. For example, it is worth mentioning one of the most popular theories - the “theory of being disappointed” by relationships with the opposite gender which was refuted in 1981. As well as the “theory of molestation” disproved with the help of scientific research and the “exotic becomes erotic” theory that failed to withstand a careful investigation.
Sexologist Gary Kelly authoritatively insists that sexual orientation has a multitude of nuances in each particular case, and each person's sexuality is so individual that it cannot be generally categorized.
According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10), developed by the World Health Organization and used in our country, homosexuality is a possibility within the norm. Homosexuality as a sexual orientation is just as valid as aheterosexual or bisexual orientation.
Sexologist Gary Kelly authoritatively insists that sexual orientation has a multitude of nuances in each particular case, and each person's sexuality is so individual that it cannot be generally categorized.
Genetic factors and particularities of fetal development can be attributed to the reasons that influence the formation of gender identity* and sexual orientation. These phenomena cannot be influenced even with the help of a "very good upbringing."
More often than not, one can hear the myth that growing up in a single-parent household can trigger homosexuality or being transgender. In fact, if we consider the past of our country, and think of the number of children raised by mothers and grandmothers after World War II, we can presume that the number of people with an "atypical" gender identity or sexual orientation should have increased! However, the number of such people in different countries remains 5-7%. At the same time, homosexuals are almost exclusively raised by heterosexual parents.
Immediately after birth, we are assigned with a certain sex, either male or female. In some cases people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosomes patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. These people are called intersex. Intersex is a general term that merges a wide range of variations that occur in nature. According to experts intersex people account for 0.05 up to 1.7% of the population.
In addition to the biological sex, we have gender, which is a social and cultural construct. This term has many definitions depending on the author's or scientist’s stance. The most typical definition: "sex is a social gender". What does this mean, simply? It is a set of characteristics by which we can determine who a man and a woman are, what they are like, what they look like, what they do, etc..
If we are to describe a woman by paying attention to her dress, heels, soft-spoken voice, feminine figure or long hair, we have illustrated and paid attention to her gender characteristics.
Moreover, each of us has a certain gender identity. Gender identity stands for one's attribution of self to a certain group that shares some similarities on the basis of gender. When a person's gender identity does not match the gender assigned at birth, this person is called transgender. If it matches, then the person is cisgender.
Regardless of these characteristics, a person might have different sexual orientations.Sexual orientation is usually understood as a more or less constant emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to people of a certain sex or gender. There are three common sexual orientations: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. Some distinguish the asexual orientation, when the attraction is absent or almost absent, as well as any interest in a sexual intercourse. Another type of sexual orientation, pansexuality, has been spoken about more often recently. It is characterized by emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. Here lies the difference between pansexuality and hetero-, homo-, or bisexuality for which the sex of the person one is attracted to matters.
A trans* identity is sometimes confused with sexual orientation. Sexual orientation and gender identity are different things, thus, transgender people can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Basically, just like cisgender people.
In fact, transgender people can be heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, just like cisgender people.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped by many factors, including biological. A child cannot "learn" it, or “take on it” after seeing it somewhere. However, the environment and the Internet affect how children think of their own characteristics, accept themselves, and with whom they choose to share their story. A tolerant environment is the best tool to prevent psychological problems, risky adolescent behavior, acute and painful rejection of one’s own body and any other distinguishing characteristics.
Psychologists have proven that psychological difficulties of LGBT people* are more linked to the consequences of social pressures, rather than to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Research by Ryana, W. S., Legateb, N., & Weinstein, N. (2015). Coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual: The lasting impact of initial disclosure experiences. Self and Identity, 14 (5), 549–569;
Strokova, SS (2013). Changing the model of homosexuality in the psychodynamic approach (review of foreign studies). Contemporary Foreign Psychology, 2 (3), 81–92.
*LGBT is an abbreviation that stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender.
Unfortunately, history portrays many examples of such attempts with tragic consequences.
Most often, we see transgender people on the screens of our monitors. Their "choice" may seem strange and incomprehensible. Let's take a closer look at two transgender women who prior to their transitions were legally men: Lana and Lilly Wachowski. Yes, the creators of the well-known "Matrix".
The boys were born into an ordinary family, and were raised by mother and father. Similarly to their mother, they found their passion in drawing and studied art. And just like their father, they later became successful businessmen.
Talented men, recognized by Hollywood and the world, creators who got the chance to bring to life their fantasies and who managed multimillion-dollar projects. As believed by many, they were happy people when they suddenly decided to undergo a transition. What is wrong with this story? What must be really happening in the souls of these people when nothing seems to satisfy them?
When asked, they usually do not talk about pleasure. Firstly, they always say that they always knew that they were living in a wrong body where they were placed for unclear reasons, that it is some kind of a terrible and hurtful mistake.
To us, as outside viewers of such life drama, it may seem that the child was brought up incorrectly, not masculine or feminine enough, these children were improperly dressed or they were talked to in a wrong manner. But as we look at other families, it turns out that hundreds of thousands of parents are raising their children in the same way yet these kids do not seek to transition.
As for Lana and Lilly Wachowski, they did not try to shock anyone, draw attention, or earn more money. Lana was forced to come out only after journalists dug out this information exploiting her fame to their advantage.
In fact, these incredible women were longing only for a single thing, they wanted to become themselves.
(Statistic based on the meta-analysis of appeals for surgeries during transition is as follows: Transgender women account for 6.8 per 100 000 population; Transgender men – 2.6 per 100 000 population) (Arcelus, Bouman, Van De Noortgate, et al. 2015). Transgender persons and other gender minorities account for approximately 0.3-0.5% (25 million of the total population (Winter, Diamond, Green, et al. 2016). This means that the number of people whose self-identification (gender identity) is in conflict with gender assigned at birth is at least 50 times greater than the number of those who decide to change their gender.)
A child's homosexuality can cause parents anxiety and concern. Quite often they turn to the help of psychologists/psychiatrists/priests/psychics or of all of them at once to "cure"/"fix"/help to identify "correctly". However, usually it traumatises both children and parents. It overcomplicates the needed support and assistance which are truly needed in the family.
The period that worries parents so much is actually the time when a child tries to understand their identity, who they are, who they like. The child is confronted with trying to understand their sexuality and a constantly changing body. Everyone goes through this. Do you remember how it went for you? Who did you discuss it with, what genuinely concerned you, what did you need?
In fact, during these times children desperately need their parents’ support and understanding. After being understood and accepted by the parents, children learn to do the same to themselves. This is how we humans learn this complex and very important skill.
(Queer counseling and Narrative therapy, 2002, ed. by David Denborough).
Modern psychiatry and psychology accumulated considerable knowledge on how “a person's sexual orientation and gender identity can be broken yet not changed”.
Robert Spitzer practiced reparative therapy, but later admitted that it did not prove to be effective (https://exgaywatch.com/2012/04/spitzer-i-owe-the-gay-community-an-apology/).
In 2001 the ineffectiveness of the conversion therapy was also studied by Ariel Schidlo and Michael Schroeder. Eight people (from a total sample of 202) were "cured" yet they later turned out to be paid consultants, thus casting doubts even on such a small percentage of "successful changes". (https://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/09/us/study-says-gays-can-shift-sexual-orientation.html)
However, the worst of all are the consequences of such "help". Leandro Ramos, the head of the ALL OUT programs, notes the devastating effects of "remaking" sexual orientation or gender identity. A person starts to suffer from anxiety, depression, weight gain/loss, guilt, isolation and self-hatred, the risk of suicide increases ninefold! Consequences listed above are typical.
In fact, most LGBT people want and can have family and children. Some resort to surrogacy or rely on assisted reproductive technologies. Sexual orientation does not affect the reproductive function of either women or men.
There are many examples of gays and lesbians having children. For example, singer and showman Elton John is raising two children.
TV presenter Anatoliy Yerema publicly admitted that he was gay in 2007. At that time he already had a daughter and a son, as of now he has grandchildren.
Since the 1980s, American and European scientists have been researching and observing LGBT families. According to statistical data from the Williams Institute, in the United States there are currently 114000 LGBT couples raising children, 24% of whom were fostered (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/quick-facts/lgbt-faqs/). Numerous studies show that children of heterosexual and homosexual parents share similar characteristics and problems, they are equally well adapted in society and are good in interaction with peers. (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/perceptions-lesbian-parents-25/) Regarding the sexual orientation and gender identity of children in homosexual families, the distribution is the same as in heterosexual ones. (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/report-lgb-parent-families)
In fact, this is a myth that can be refuted by simple statistics. The majority of pedophiles, i.e. 94% are men, the majority of their victims are girls.
At the same time, most pedophiles who attacked boys considered themselves heterosexual and were in a heterosexual relationship.
Pedophilia is a perversion, real pedophiles do not subscribe to any sexual orientation at all, they are fixated on children. (https://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html#cameron)
Bisexuality is a type of sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality and homosexuality. A bisexual person can feel emotional and sensual attraction to the people of the same sex as well as the opposite sex. According to numerous studies carried out in different countries, the number of bisexual people ranges from 0.9% to 3%.
Sex in Australia: The Australian study of health and relationships, Australian Research Center in Sex, Health and Society. (Published as the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health vol 27 no 2.) Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.1. off-site links: Main survey page https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/how-many-people-lgbt/
Such "foggy" statistics can be explained by many factors: from inappropriate research methods to biphobia and fear of acknowledging one's bisexuality (biphobia is manifested in various forms of negative reactions to bisexuality). It is primarily expressed in the hostility or discrimination of a social group or individuals with bisexual orientation. It can be reflected in the denial that bisexuality is an actual sexual orientation (although the opposite is confirmed by the World Health Organization) or negative stereotypes about bisexual people (for example, as if they are not picky when it comes to sexual partners or are dishonest). Generally, the more tolerant a country is, the easier it is for a person to understand what their orientation is.
There are no tests, techniques or screenings to determine the sexual orientation and gender of another person from the outside. Homosexuality and and transgender identities are quite complex and still unexplored phenomena. The only test that can accurately indicate the answer is a person's self-determination.
Speaking of possible DNA tests, scientists have not yet agreed on the origin of different types of sexual orientations, therefore the "genetic theory" remains to be only one of the theories that has not been definitively confirmed.
Usually children interact a lot, they enjoy the company of some more than that of others, just like adults. Will the child actually understand your question: "Who do you like more?" After all, the meaning you imply behind this phrase is different to that of a younger child. Yet what the child can surely sense is your emotional concern.
It is not only "the right questions at the right time" that matter but also a trusting relationship with the child. It is important that in a difficult situation (for a child, not for you, as an adult and as an experienced person!) the child asks for your advice and support instead of turning to the friend of the same age and who has similar understanding of the issue. With time, after being guided by your wisdom, the child will learn to rely on that of their own.
Yes, definitely! Of course, it depends on the age, so it's important to ask yourself: what do I want my child to understand and learn from this conversation, and what do I want from this conversation myself?
When considering adults we keep in mind how different we all are, i.e. what is suitable in a conversation with one person, can end in a disaster with another. But we forget about children's individuality. Sometimes it seems that all children can be recommended the same book, or a chapter to read, or a website, or as if we can have the same conversation about sexual relations. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all "recipe".
The most important thing to keep in mind during such conversations is that it is a conversation indeed, not a lecture. And the conversation is between two people. Often one knows more than the other, but this does not always apply ;)
It is important to be a human, not a "radio". You may not know everything, there may be things you never even considered. Then your openness will promote the child's openness to the topic and to self-understanding.
Since it is a dialogue, you can ask the child about what they already know or have heard about. Your child may already have some understanding about the topic.
Another important aspect is that it is usually challenging for parents to discuss such topics, so they believe that having a conversation once is sufficient.
In fact, the topic of sexuality is extremely important and broad, and as the child matures, the body undergoes changes and questions will evolve accordingly. Therefore, it is best to follow the child and answer their questions when they ask. If you have a warm and trusting relationship, your child will ask you about what really worries them.
Useful links for parents and children:
Probably the most important thing is to know that your child is normal! It happens that some children are born homosexual or transgender.
A person goes through a very painful path in the process of accepting his orientation or identity. Some people take years to do this. You are already an adult, you have formed psychological defense mechanisms, and you know how to protect yourself. And your child was confronted with their characteristics and dissimilarities to others and for some time lived with that alone, confused, not knowing what to do, and without your support. If the child has already confessed, then they have gone through a very painful path of self-acceptance and they really need your support and understanding.
It may seem to you that the child is selfish and does not think about you. However, almost all children worry about the well-being and health of their parents.
Usually, the fear of harming parents, worries of how they will perceive sexual orientation or a different gender identity, and the fear of not meeting parental expectations are at the forefront of the child’s thoughts.
At the moment when the child decides to open up to you, they are very, very worried and anxious, even if it is not visible from the outside. What kind of relationship do you want with your child? Do you want it to stay open? Your reaction is important to maintain the relationship.
Usually very few parents are happy to hear that their child belongs to the LGBT community. I have not seen that in our country. Usually parents are in a state of shock. Yet this is not surprising, because homophobia is not a rare occurrence. Moreover, sexual orientation and affiliation with LGBT community can lead to both psychological harassment and physical assault. No wonder parents are scared for their children!
You are not to be blamed for the fact that your child is different. They are perfectly fine just like you are. It is still your child. The best, the smartest, the most beautiful!
Your future relationship with the child depend on how you react to their coming out (the process of opening up about one’s homo/bisexuality or being transgender). You should keep in mind that the older your child is, the smaller are the chances that it is just a “phase”. If the child voluntarily opens up to you, then everything is quite serious and there is no room to think that they are just showing off.
“TERGO” is an organization that supports parents of LGBT children.
It is certain that after coming out (the process of opening up about one’s homo/bisexuality or being transgender), life will not be the way it was before. And there is no tragedy in this. It will be new and different. The more gently and attentively you treat yourself in this difficult situation, the faster you will be able to accept your son or daughter as they are without making any efforts to change them.
In order to support your child, it is best to ask what they were lacking when you did not know about their orientation or identity, what they would like to say, what they want, what kind of support do they really need. Such a conversation can further deepen and enrich your relationship.
As we all are quite different, the support we may need also differs. For some, it is important that a loved one just sits by their side in silence, some want to vent, others just need to be treated in the same way as before. Which is better? Is it better to ask a person what they really need and how you can support them? Sometimes, just an attentive look, a warm helping hand and a sincere smile are enough.
There are no clear time limits on how many hours, days or months it takes for a child to be accepted. It is different for everyone.
This new "circumstance" completely changes the picture of the child's future drawn in parents’ heads: how a daughter or a son gets married, how they entertain their grandchildren. Parents have a clear idea of the future for their family and many other important things. It takes time for them to see the new possibility of a happy life for the whole family again.
Many parents blame themselves for the fact that the child is like "that". They ask themselves what they did wrong when raising children. Dear parents, it is not your fault or anyone else's! It is not a disease, it's normal!
You can contact associations of LGBT children’s parents. For example, the parent initiative "TERGO" or the LGBT Association "Liga". You can meet parents who have already been through what you are currently facing, listen to their experience, learn about happy stories.
It is important to remember that this is also a difficult ordeal for your child. In fact, you both need each other and you both long for mutual support.
If you have an LGBT child and are currently on this website reading information, you are already taking an important step towards acceptance.
For you and your child, conversations about homosexuality/bisexuality/being trans* will be an important stage in the development of the relationship in general. Sincere curiosity and acceptance of children's identity by parents is an important component of mutual understanding, love and support.
In the majority of cases, the period when the child opens up about their sexual orientation or identity is very challenging. It is full of negative emotions, guilt, and condemnation. Yet most parents love their children regardless and try to accept them, they come to terms with what cannot be changed.
When caring for a child, it is important not to lose oneself. You need to take care of yourself and do not force yourself to do what you are not ready for yet.
Parents also need support, trust and love from their children.
Therefore, parents need to be attentive to themselves and their worries, feelings and emotions. It is important that children learn from you about what emotions you are feeling and are willing to share with them after they come out. Also remember that it is always possible to get psychological help.
A person's sexual orientation and gender identity is a private matter. It can be shared only with the consent of the person.
It may also be the case that the child came out to you, but is not yet ready to do so with other relatives or friends. Therefore, if you want to share this information with someone close to you, ask for consent in advance. It is likely that you will be denied this request.
You can talk to the child, explain the importance of sharing experiences with a loved one whom you trust completely, and highlight how crucial it is for you. I urge you to treat the issue with understanding and remember that even if your child denies your request, there may be significant reasons, such as fear of condemnation by loved ones and so on.
If you want to share this information even with very close relatives, if possible, ask your child if they agree. This will help to cultivate trust between you and will be an indicator of your respect for your child's privacy.
It is obvious that not all parents of LGBT children can turn to a psychologist’s help to talk everything out. However, sometimes it is very necessary! In this situation, it is important to be confident in the reliability and delicacy of the person with whom you want to share your story and the story of your child.
Moreover, deciding with whom and how to share about the bisexuality/homosexuality/trans* identity of your child can bring you closer to them. You will basically be able to feel the spectrum of the emotions your child went through when they were preparing to come out to you. It is also possible that both of you will have to think through similar conversations when planning how to break the news to other people in the future. Mutual support is the best tool to help both of you in resolving this matter.
No. This is personal information. Disclosure of this matter is called outing (public disclosure of personal information about a person's orientation or gender identity against their will and without their consent).
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