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[My Child] A Quiet Message of Support for LGBTQ Children & Their Parents
HIT : 1290
date : 2017-11-02

A Quiet Message of
Support for LGBTQ Children & Their Parents

Movie Review: My
Child

기사 관련 사진

Scene from My
Child, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights

 

 

"I had to choose between the society and
my child. I chose to be on my childs side."

 

My mom knows Im a lesbian. The last time we
talked about "it," we were talking on the phone. Her voice faltered
whenever she mentioned the word, probably because "it" was still
difficult for her to say out loud. Yet I couldnt help smiling over the conversation;
after more than a decade, we were finally talking to each other. Our
conversation was still awkward but heartfelt. It was a relief, as if we had
finally turned a small corner.

 

Coming out is usually understood as a momentary
action when I tell someone Im a lesbian and that person recognizes the fact.
In reality, however, coming out is neither just a moment nor a short
conversation. This is especially true when that someone you are coming out to
is family, someone with whom you cannot easily sever ties. Living close to each
other creates the illusion that family members know everything there is to know
about each other, when in fact they often have no idea how the other person
really feels inside.

 

There was a protracted struggle between me, who
did not want to be exposed, and Mom, who wondered about her odd child. My
teenage years taught me that I was a woman who liked other women and that I had
to hide that fact. But the harder I tried to cover up my secret, the more
doggedly Mom chased after the truth about me. At home the air was fraught with
tension, whether we were speaking or not.

 

 

 

A Documentary about Parents of LGBTQ Children
in Turkey

 

Later, there were times when the roles would be
reversed, making me the one who would chase after Mom. I no longer wanted to
hide who I am, while Mom suffered silently inside, desperately hoping that her
daughter would not be "it." This was during the time when I finally
accepted myself after years of confusion and started to build a life and history
as a lesbian.

 

Mom could not have not known, because
during the time I struggled to come of age, I wore a harsh expression that
surprised even myself. Maybe she convinced herself that "these girls are
just friends" because she wanted to understand her daughter. Or maybe she
wanted to deny that her child was a lesbian. Or maybe she avoided the subject
because she did not know what to do. I wanted to come out to her, yet
constantly stopped myself in fear. Whenever I managed to muster the courage to
go ahead, it seemed that Mom would shut me up by grumbling about my uncouth
outfit or nagging me if I still havent found a boy I was interested in.

 

기사 관련 사진

Scene from My Child, screened at the 8th Film
Festival for Womens Rights

 

Each time I look back, it feels different, and I
think more and more about Mom. Perhaps, after the long years of struggle, I
finally have enough peace of mind to care about her story as well as mine.
Sure, I was afraid of coming out to her, but I was rash to her, too. I thought
she just
had to accept me. Now that I realize she is not only my mother
but also an individual surrounded by this society, I ask myself: what did Mom
worry about? Who can she turn to for support, while I at least have friends to
rely on? How differently does she remember the painful past events that are now
buried?

 

My Child is a
documentary film about parents of LGBTQ children in Turkey. In the movie,
parents from a faraway country quietly described their lives: the time when
they started their families, the time when they held their newborn child. As I
was warmed by their smiling faces, the story took a sharp turn.

 

The parents expression turned grave as they
recounted the moment when their children start to turn out somewhat
"abnormal." The stories of girls who threw temper tantrums at the
sight of skirts at age three or four, as well as of the boys whose parents
constantly chastened them for being feminine, felt so familiar yet strange.

 

 

 

Parents Who Chose To "Be With"
Their Children

 

We are all familiar with such depictions of the
characteristics of gay people. However, they take on different meanings when
they come from their parents. Have I ever thought about how Mom would have
looked like when she first suspected her daughter of being
"different?"

 

I knew plenty of stories and discourses about
homosexuals, but I was never interested in the histories of people around them,
such as their families. The film pushed me to think otherwise. The faces of the
parents betrayed their feelings as they remembered thinking, "Hey, she just
a three-year-old kid; this is just a phase; or is it because Im doing
something wrong with my child?"
Gripped in vague anxiety, they could
not understand the source of their discomfort.

 

But they came to understand the feelings they
had. In their voices and words, there was now confidence instead of insecurity.
It was as if my mothers face, which remained a mystery to me all this time,
began to speak to me. For the first time I got to hear the real story of my
mother, which I cannot know because I only remember it in my words and my point
of view.

 

기사 관련 사진

Scene from My
Child, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights

 

When it got to the part where the parents
confronted their adult children, the screen burst with the intensity of the
emotion they went through as they accepted their childrens queerness. The
composure of the film was replaced by a powerful energy that drove them to
organize a support group for parents of LGBTQ children.

 

The parents who chose to "be with"
their children now march the streets to change the homophobic society they live
in. Their powerful action is a poignant reminder of my indifference. I never
cared to find out what I meant to Mom. I have been defending myself with the
excuse that my hands were already full from my own problems. It asks us if we
have been retreating from each other because we lacked the courage to work
towards coexistence.

 

Those who used to have no one to turn to now inspire
others, not only parents but me too. That day, when I asked Mom if I could
introduce my girlfriend to her later, she replied hesitantly, "yeah, but I
think I will still treat her like a friend of yours." She was admitting
that she accepted I was a lesbian but could not do much more than that for the
time being. It feels like the parents in My Child are sending my mom and
me, who struggled so much to get just this far, a quiet message of support.

 

For some people, just knowing the existence of others
like them gives them hope, especially when minorities who were previously
unseen and unheard begin to speak out. This is why the story of the LGBTQ
parents group matter so much. In Korea, where the general public is unfamiliar
with the stories of sexual minorities, let alone those of their parents, the message
of My Child becomes particularly powerful. This is why I want more
people to see the stories of their lives.

 

 


 

 

Korea Womens Hotline