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Chely Wright

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Without Family… What Do You Have?

For most of us, our families provide the one place where we can be ourselves and know that we will be loved and accepted, no matter what. Our families are our support system, our source of strength, our home. For all their faults and foibles, when crisis hits, we can expect on our family to be there.

But what if you weren’t sure you could count on them?

What if you were afraid to be yourself with the people you loved the most—because you worry about getting a bad reaction?

Imagine not being able to share key parts of your life, for fear that your family would reject you, maybe even throw you out of your home.

Imagine thinking you had to choose between your family—the people who have raised, supported and loved you—and being true to yourself.

Wouldn’t you want to know that someone gave a damn?

Best way to protect a loved one

Even in 21st century America, the overriding societal message imparted to our youth is that we should be straight and act a certain way according to our gender. And even the most well-intentioned parents do not always react well when their gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child comes out to them.

But the fact is, most people would do everything they possibly could to protect their loved ones from harm. And it turns out that the best way to protect a gay or transgender young person is to simply support and accept them.

Research has shown that when gay and transgender youth are accepted by their families, they fare better in life. As young adults, they are much more likely to believe they will have a good life and become happy, productive adults than those whose families are less accepting of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are also much less likely to attempt suicide, to suffer from depression or to use illegal drug than peers whose parents do not accept their identity.

In fact, gay and transgender youth whose families are highly accepting of them enjoy higher self-esteem, higher levels of social support and better general health than those who experience low levels of family acceptance.

Ultimately, gay and transgender young adults whose families are accepting and supportive of them are much more satisfied with their lives than those who are not accepted by their families.

Everyone deserves to be accepted

So it’s time to give a damn. Because coming out is one of the most courageous and most frightening things a gay or transgender person will do in their lives, and everyone deserves support during such a vulnerable moment.

It’s time to give a damn, because being even a little less rejecting, or a little more accepting, can help reduce gay and transgender youths’ illegal drug use and risk for contracting HIV or sexually transmitted diseases.

And it’s time to give a damn, because research has shown that gay or transgender youth who have been highly rejected by their families were more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times more likely to be highly depressed and 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs and engage in unprotected sexual intercourse than those who weren’t rejected by family members.

Everyone deserves to be loved and accepted for who they are—especially by their family. For without family, what do you have?

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Spread the word. Encourage the people in your life to get involved—especially if they’re straight and have never given this issue a lot of thought. Simply:

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Visit our nonprofit partners’ websites; they’re experts on family acceptance. They can provide you a ton of additional resources and ways to get involved:

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