Love Makes a Family FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND SIGNIFICANT OTHERS
Foreword by Justin Tindall, It Gets Better Project
Love Makes a Family Friends, Family, and Significant Others
Beyond Male and Female: The Gender Identity Spectrum Body and Mind: LGBTQ Health Issues Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority Gender Fulfilled: Being Transgender LGBTQWithout Borders: International Life LGBTQ at Work: Your Personal and Working Life Love Makes a Family: Friends, Family, and Significant Others When You’re Ready: Coming Out You Are Not Alone: Finding Your LGBTQ Community
Love Makes a Family Friends, Family, and Significant Others
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CONTENTS Foreword 6 Introduction 8 1 Happy Being Single 12 2 Family and Friends 30 3 Dating and Relationships 50 4 Falling in Love 70 5 Marriage and Having Kids 92 Series Glossary of Key Terms 106 Further Reading & Internet Resources 109 Index 111 Author’s Biography & Credits 112
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Words to Understand: These words, with their easy-to-understand definitions, will increase readers’ understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text.
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Foreword I’m so excited that you’ve decided to pick up this book! I can’t tell you how much something like this would have meant to me when I was in high school in the early 2000s. Thinking back on that time, I can honestly say I don’t recall ever reading anything positive about the LGBTQ community. And while Will & Grace was one of the most popular shows on television at the time, it never made me feel as though such stories could be a reality for me. That’s in part why it took me nearly a decade more to finally come out in 2012 when I was 25 years old; I guess I knew so little about what it meant to be LGBTQ that I was never really able to come to terms with the fact that I was queer myself. But times have changed so much since then. In the United States alone, marriage equality is now the law of the land; conversion therapy has been banned in more than 15 states (and counting!); all 50 states have been served by an openly LGBTQ-elected politician in some capacity at some time; and more LGBTQ artists and stories are being celebrated in music, film, and on television than ever before. And that’s just the beginning! It’s simply undeniable: it gets better. After coming out and becoming the proud queer person I am today, I’ve made it my life’s goal to help share information that lets others know that they’re never alone. That’s why I now work for the It Gets Better Project (www.itgetsbetter.org), a nonprofit with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ youth around the globe. The organization was founded in September 2010 when the first It Gets Better video was uploaded to YouTube. The viral online storytelling movement that quickly followed has generated over 60,000 video stories to date, one of the largest collections of LGBTQ stories the world has ever seen. Since then, the It Gets Better Project has expanded into a global organization, working to tell stories and build communities everywhere. It does this through three core programs:
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• Media. We continue to expand our story collection to reflect the vast diversity of the global LGBTQ community and to make it ever more accessible to LGBTQ youth everywhere. (See, itgetsbetter.org/stories.) • Global. Through a growing network of affiliates, the It Gets Better Project is helping to equip communities with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to tell their own stories. (See, itgetsbetter.org/global.) • Education. It Gets Better stories have the power to inform our communities and inspire LGBTQ allies, which is why we’re working to share them in as many classrooms and community spaces we can. (See, itgetsbetter.org/education.) You can help the It Gets Better Project make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ young people everywhere. To get started, go to www.itgetsbetter.org and click “Get Involved.” You can also help by sharing this book and the other incredible volumes from the LGBTQ Life series with someone you know and care about. You can also share them with a teacher or community leader, who will in turn share them with countless others. That’s how movements get started. In short, I’m so proud to play a role in helping to bring such an important collection like this to someone like you. I hope you enjoy each and every book, and please don’t forget: it gets better.
Justin Tindall Director, Education and Global Programming It Gets Better Project
Introduction There are two kinds of families. One kind of family includes relatives by bloodline and marriages. A young person has little choice about these relatives, no matter how good or how bad they are. However, anybody can choose to create another kind of family that is very special. With enough love, anything is possible. Love starts with the love of self, and then love can be shared with another person. You can have a long-term relationship based on love, and if you want, you can get married. When you add children, with more love, the family gets stronger because for anyone—LGBTQ or not. It is love that makes a family strong. According to the Family Equality Council, there are about 10.7 million LGBTQ people in America. About half of those identify as bisexual, and around 1.4 million identify as transgender. An astonishing 1.1 million of LGBTQ people are in a same-sex marriage in the United States. There may be up to 1.2 million more who are in a long-term, same-sex relationship but not yet married. Up to 4 million children live in a family with at least one parent who is an LGBTQ person. Many are being raised by a single LGBTQ parent. In the United States, about 200,000 of the LGBTQ married couples with kids have come out to be known to friends, neighbors, and schools as LGBTQ families. This number of LGBTQ families is growing. LGBTQ people are getting married more frequently, while the prevalence of marriages of non-LGBTQ people is going down. When compared to straight couples, same-sex couples are at least four times more likely to adopt children and six times more likely to take in foster children. Whom Is This Book For? This book is for any teen who is a member of an LGBTQ family or who has an LGBTQ parent or sibling. It is also for any LGBTQ parent and supporter of LGBTQ teens. Any person of any age or sexual
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persuasion who wants to understand the uniqueness of LGBTQ families and the perspective of LGBTQ teens will benefit from reading this book. If you are an LGBTQ teen, and you want to learn more about dating, falling in love, getting married, and raising children, this guide will help you understand all the wonderful possibilities. It warns against some of the pitfalls, so you can avoid them if possible. Each chapter has practical tips about ways to try to have a better life. The first thing you will learn is how to be happy being single. You will get tips about how to build up your self-esteem and how to deal with the feelings of loneliness, separateness, and being different. The first chapter explores some powerful antidotes to these negative feelings with practical advice that empowers individuals in spite of challenging experiences. Chapter 2 is an exploration of ways to deal with abusive relationships and how to avoid codependency. It explains how to recognize positive role models, follow good examples, and find supportive friends. It gives some real-life examples of positive role models for inspiration. In Chapter 3, we explore dating for LGBTQ teens. Dating can be fun, and it can be dangerous when you are not practicing safe sex. This chapter gives tips to help young people navigate LGBTQ dating in ways that recognize the easy access to virtually everything about sex that can be found on the Internet. It tells how to find friends and hook- ups for casual sex. Chapter 4 is about falling in love. It describes how to know whether you are in love and whether the one you love loves you back. It explores the value of emotional honesty and how to deal with rejection and disappointment on the pathway to finding true love. Everyone has the right to love whomever they want. Getting married and having kids is a life-path choice available to LGBTQ people who want to formalize their loving relationship legally with a significant other and also, perhaps, raise some children together. In the final chapter, we talk about marriage, kids, and how to create a loving family.
The underlying message of this book is that love is the fundamental building block of a happy family. LGBTQ families are beautiful creations when they are chock full of love. With enough love, LGBTQ families can face challenges and overcome them. It is not easy; however, this guide gives tips about what to do and shows examples of others who have done this very well to prove that it is possible.
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No matter what form a family takes, love is the glue that holds it together.
1 Happy Being Single
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Words to Understand Affirmations: Positive thoughts used as reminders. Diversity: A mixture of people of all different kinds. Self-actualized: Having good self-esteem and following a good life’s purpose. To be able to love others fully, one must first be able to love oneself. Self-esteem comes from realizing that while it may not be possible to change what happens to you, it is possible to change how you feel about what happens. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and being different all contribute to low self-esteem. Here are some powerful antidotes to these negative feelings that will help to empower you in spite of your experiences.
Healthy self-esteem comes from having a balanced perspective.
Happy Being Single
What Is Self-Esteem? Everyone has one person who knows exactly how they feel. That person is always there for you, no matter what. You can’t escape the feelings and opinions of this person because this person, who knows you better than anyone else, is you. Self-esteem is how you view yourself. Having high self-esteem means feeling good about yourself without being arrogant. Healthy self-esteem comes from having a balanced perspective. To find this balance, start by judging yourself less harshly. At the same time, try not to feel superior to others. The goal is to be comfortable with who you are right now, while also being open to improving yourself. The path to better self-esteem starts with liking yourself. Imagine you are the kindest possible person. You do not harm others. You are forgiving and compassionate. You also take a stand when you see something happening that is wrong, like another teen being bullied. Take your vision of that imagined super-kind person, and apply it to yourself. Do your best to become that person, and treat yourself the way that person would treat you. Practical Tip: Do you look in the mirror and judge yourself? Almost every person does this. To improve your self-esteem, put sticky notes on the side of the mirror, with positive affirmations, such as “You look terrific!” “You feel great!” “Don’t worry, be happy!” Force yourself to smile at yourself each time you look in the mirror. At first, this may feel silly. Do it anyway, and soon you will feel the power of positive thinking. Am I the Only One Who Feels This Way? Growing up and dealing with the world can be confusing and frustrating. It is quite common for feelings of self-doubt to come up. Our minds can turn very negative when we least expect it. Thoughts arise that make us feel like we are the only ones in the world who can possibly feel the way we are feeling.
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