“Our Children, A Guide for Families and Relatives” (Çocuklarımız, Aile ve Yakınlar için bir Rehber) is a booklet designed for LGBTI+ parents and relatives. The booklet is published by LISTAG (Families and Relatives of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Individuals) in collaboration with LGBTI+ family groups from different cities around Turkey serves as an invaluable resource for parents and relatives of LGBTI+ children and youth. In the preface it reads that the purpose of the booklet is to share knowledge gained by the common experiences of families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans individuals, and provide families with less or little experience with information and help raise their awarenesse. Included in the preface is an important note on the fact that the feelings and thoughts many LGBTI+ families initially experience when their children come out to them are similar and that knowing they are not alone is in itself comforting.
What makes this resource booklet a powerful read is that it also includes extracts from the book, “Stories Under the Rainbow” (Gökkuşagından Hikayeler), a compilation of real life stories from the families of LGBTI+ individuals. These accounts, distributed throughout the booklet, are the voices of parents of LGBTI+ children and youth relaying their own struggles, challenges, and experiences. Perhaps these narratives effectively echo similar sentiments to the parents reading “Our Children”, reassuring them that their experience is not unique to them.
The booklet provides definitions for core LGBTI+ terminology such as for gender identity and sexual orientation; information and suggestions for parents on ways to cope with their own feelings; information about the coming out process as LGB and how best to support LGBTI+ individuals and the coming out process of trans children and youth, and what the transition process in Turkey entails. It also contains information about LISTAG and the work it does to support families and raise awareness about LGBTI+ discrimination and rights.
Stressing the importance of carving space and time for reflection to process feelings and thoughts, the booklet notes that many parents may neglect the fact that they too need support, and encourages parents to also tend to their own feelings while supporting their child.
One main suggestion the booklet provides to parents is to operate from a place of love despite wherever they may be in their own acceptance process and that a great way to find solidarity is to get in touch with LGBTI+ family groups. In the afterword, a parent encourages other parents to confront their own fears together with their children and to be open to learning about other lives without judgement and adds, “Let’s try to really understand and let’s not leave our children alone on this challenging journey.”
For a parent whose child may have recently come out to them as LGBTI+ and who may lack knowledge on the topic, finding access to information and guidance on LGBTI+ topics in Turkish might be a challenging endeavor. Providing parents with a good starting point, this is an impactful resource that will serve this gap and help many families better understand and support their LGBTI+ child. It is not difficult to imagine the positive impact “Our Children” will have on many families. With its clear explanations, suggestions and the narratives from experienced parents, “Our Children” makes a great gift to all parents of LGBTI+ children and youth.
Review by Lukka Alp Akarçay for LGBTI News Turkey