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Celebrating Pride Month and the Power of Community

Happy Pride everyone!

This June I celebrate the beautiful people of the LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and trans, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual or agender, two-spirit, and more ways of identifying in the world) community, my family included. This Pride month I pause to acknowledge all the families who lean on love to learn and grow together in a big-hearted community.

But community was something I did not have before moving to Newton, MA. It took time and support from organizations like the JCC of Greater Boston, PFLAG, and the Association and Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) to build the sense of community I hold today. I arrived in Newton as an immigrant parent of a three-and-a-half-year-old kiddo assigned male at birth. Today, I am a new citizen parent of a nine-and-a-half-year old kiddo who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. While a lot has happened in these six years in Newton – from finishing my dissertation, becoming a doctor of philosophy, doing a postdoc, becoming a homeowner, learning about the public school system, going through a pandemic, being unemployed, transitioning into a new private sector career, and getting trained as a forest therapy guide, a Level-I Internal Family Systems Therapy Practitioner and as parent coach- I want to share with you how I ended up being part of the JCC community and what it has been like to be the facilitator for the PFLAG group at the JCC.

Just after the pandemic, I learned about Camp Kaleidoscope and an opportunity to be the science specialist there. My kiddo also got to come with the younger bunk kids at the time. They loved the noon-time performances, the friends and the counselors. It was in one of their bunk meetings that my kid shared a book about Ru Paul with the bunk and told their bunk counselor that they identify as non-binary, as not just a boy, not just a girl, not just a boy and a girl, but as themselves. The bunk counselor told me, and I loved that they felt welcomed and comfortable enough to share this understanding with their camp counselor.

As a parent, I loved that I could see and feel the support coming from the JCC for those journeys of people with diverse backgrounds and unique ways of being in the world. This was especially important for me and my kid. I felt the JCC was on my side, and at the same time, I got to learn about the diversity of the Jewish culture. The JCC became a wonderful point of connection between me and my local community, my neighbors in Newton, and other immigrant parents or multicultural families in the area. In the same way, I wanted to be there for parents like me who wanted to understand their kids and all others in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. I heard about the PFLAG training for facilitators, and volunteered to do so for the virtual JCC support group in Newton. I wanted to learn how not to judge my kid or myself (even unintentionally). I learned how to be curious without judging anyone’s experiences. Listening to other families and their journeys with kids in the LGBTQIA2S+ community, I learned to offer grace and compassion to myself when I ended up judging or not acknowledging my kid’s experience. I learned what I believe to be a crucial skill in parenting any kid, that is to give myself permission to make mistakes and repair, and to return to curiosity and my unconditional love for the beautiful beings in my family. I learned to grow WITH my kid, always believing their experiences and having room to navigate the unknown with the trust in our relationship. I owe a lot of this learning to the parents in the JCC PFLAG support group – their struggles, their celebrations, and their stories. They showed me how building community is hard work and it takes intentional vulnerability, courage, and institutional resources that support the flourishing of our inherent goodness. It always pays off to remember we are not alone in our human suffering or celebration. I could see how they were by my side through it all.

I have been benefiting from the warm, welcoming, brave community of parents and caregivers of kids who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ for about one-and-half years so far, and I am just one of the PFLAG trained facilitators within the JCC support group. I am so grateful to Samantha for supporting me and my fellow facilitators, and holding time and space for many parents in the JCC community about once a month for the last year plus. We continue to gather mostly virtually (and once in person!) to share about our experiences with our kids and learn from each other. In our group, we have been so lucky to have participants with children in different age groups and different moments in their LGBTQAI2S+ journeys. We all end up learning something from each other – whether it is about what to expect in the future, what to forgive ourselves for doing in the past, and what makes sense to add to our present moments so that we honor our love for our kids and deepen our connections one minute at a time.

I have deep gratitude for the community I have found with many other multicultural families at the JCC and especially with parents in the JCC PFLAG Support Group. This Pride month and beyond, let’s celebrate together not only the LGBTQIA2S+ identifying individuals themselves, but also all the organizations that invest in making every day welcoming and nourishing to the courageous families working hard to make reality their dreams of being seen and honored fully in their humanity.

I look forward to being there for many more parents and caregivers with LGBTQIA2S+ identifying children, witnessing and learning about their journeys as a way of supporting myself and my family in our own journey with our kid. Join us in the community! As one of my fellow parenting experts, Dr. Becky Kennedy, says, “you cannot change the hard, but you can change the alone.” Thank you JCC Greater Boston for changing our and many others’ alone parts, and supporting the courageous vulnerable actions it takes to build community and feel at home with a multicultural family such as ours.

From Camp Kaleidoscope’s Science tent 😉,



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