National coming out day was celebrated Oct. 11 for the LGBTQ community, and the City of Pasadena celebrated the day Oct. 13 via zoom with all members who wanted to join. Coming Out Day was celebrated for the LGBTQ community to safely come out to friends and family about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, without feeling judged, hurt or threatened.

“We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and hope that our coming out day is a fun and positive experience for all,” said Margaret McAustin, the district member for the City of Pasadena. “The City of Pasadena prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming for all people no matter race, color, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

One of the social groups that have been formed to help members of the LGBTQ community is an organization called PFLAG. This was the first organization that created a group for LGBTQ people, parents, families and allies. PFLAG created a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected and valued.

At the City of Pasadena zoom event, parents who have LGBTQ children had high praise for being a part of PFLAG. In the organization, parents have shared their stories about what it’s like for their child to go through something like this. The journey for parents was difficult, not knowing what to do or where to get help. For one of the parents, it was hard for her daughter to come out and tell people that she was a girl.

“She had panic attacks and thought of suicide often,” said Cristina Hudson a parent from PFLAG. “I cried, I struggled but I had a group of people once a month that was there to listen to me.”

This organization has made other individuals recognize the LGBTQ community while at their occupation. Helping students or children feel comfortable about themselves was important to Sofia Mendoza, a teacher in LAUSD District. Attending PFLAG has made Mendoza a better teacher to create a safe place for her students while being at school.

“I research books that are appropriate for children and I love having these conversations because as an educator, children spend a lot of time with us,” said Mendoza. “I have gained a lot of skills to provide a safety net for my students and children.”

Mendoza’s son was experiencing a lot of panic attacks while making the transition and she wanted to help him. The communication between Mendoza and her son was not connecting. She was doing everything she could, getting therapists to try and express what his feelings were. It was hard for her son to tell her that she was a boy and not a girl. Her son invited her to PFLAG and was his way of saying this is real and wanted her to get more information.

“We need to be listening to what children’s voices are telling us and not what our inner voices are telling us,” said Jean Near a parent. “We are always open to hear and encourage what they are feeling.”

For parents that are going through this, it can be scary not knowing the life risks that are involved from not being your true self. Having to put their children out into the world knowing they can’t protect them from little things that happen to them. Not knowing the judgment or reactions from others causes security for people that are gender fluid. Having to let them out of this protective bubble presents fear for some parents.

“When my other kid came out as gender fluid that was a lot more fear for me because the possibility of getting homicide from some people was a real danger,” said parent Naveed Near. “Before COVID our kids would take the gold line to school. It was a nonsafe space that anything could happen and it’s a little frightening.”

Ross Mathews, author of the book ‘Man Up’ talked about how he came out to his parents. Both of them were very good parents but his dad didn’t completely understand why he was different. As a child, Ross had a hard time coming out to his mother because he would wonder if she still loved him unconditionally. He didn’t know how his mother was going to react but she was very supportive of Ross being gay.

“My mother said I would walk down main street with a sign that says I love my gay son,” said Mathews. “It fueled me with such confidence to be myself.”Coming Out Day began on Oct. 11, 1988, for the march of gay and lesbian rights in Washington. The day helps and supports those who need a safe space to speak about who they are as a person.

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