Gladstone parents back gay children in midst of national divide

Lisa McDermott, of PFLAG.
Lisa McDermott, of PFLAG. Julia Bartrim

LISA McDermott, of Gladstone, has two sons - "one's a gamer, and one's gay," she says with a laugh.

She and friends Kate Jaensch and Linda Tighe recently started a support group for parents with children in the LGBTIQ community.

They held their second meeting last Wednesday at the Gladstone PCYC. The group is affiliated with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

"It's all about parental support, it's not about having rallies," Ms Jaensch said. "We are doing them once a month to give parents in particular, but friends as well, somebody to have a cuppa with and a chat."

Ms McDermott said it can be isolating to be the mother of a gay child, or of any child who was different.

"I have been very isolated, I can talk to friends but they actually have no idea because they don't have a gay child, so unless you're living it and seeing people look at your child oddly..." she said

Ms McDermott said her son could stick out in a crowd because he liked to carry a handbag.

"He'll dress all boy, but he'll have a handbag, Kim Kardashian, so he'll get plenty of looks," she said.

But, she says, in Gladstone it's "never an issue".

"You think because it's a mining town he is going to cop it, but he doesn't. Gladstone is an accepting place."

She says Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher drove her son to his prom last year to show his support.

Ms McDermott said lots of people had said the group was a great idea and she hoped people felt comfortable enough to come along to a meeting.

Because the group is part of PFLAG they can access resources and direct people to information.

As the group grows, the organisers intend to arrange guest speakers and are looking to connect with a medical transgender advice centre for video link-ups.

Ms McDermott said parents had an important role to play in helping their kids accept their sexuality or gender identity.

In regards to the same-sex marriage debate, Ms McDermott said "we talk about it at dinner, it's an open topic, whereas if you're a gay kid, even if you're mum and dad know but they're not discussing it, it might make you struggle a bit more with it".

"I was in Brisbane at a gay pride thing and there's lots of parents there, it's really all of us going, we want our kids to have the same rights as our other kids."

Contact Kate on 0411093159 or Lisa on 0409477708.

Topics:  gladstone pcyc gladstone region parents and friends of lesbians and gays postal survey same-sex marriage

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