Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

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Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group exclusively for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and as of May 2021 there are more than 26,000 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members nickname themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted there.

There are five subgroups, several special projects and more than 50 regional groups available to the members of the private Facebook group.

Go HERE to put in a request to join the group.

The five subgroups include:

SERENDIPITYDODAH MAMA BEARS TO THE RESCUE is a subgroup for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears who are willing and able to be available to do small acts of kindness for LGBTQ+ people in their local community who may need connection, care or assistance. This subgroup makes it easier for members to coordinate and organize to do things such as attend a wedding as an affirming stand in mom, visit someone in the hospital, help someone get settled in a new area, provide some transportation, include someone in their holiday gatherings, provide temporary housing, send a note of encouragement etc

SERENDIPITYDODAH MTK is a subgroup where the conversation is trans specific. It is mostly made up of moms of trans kids. All the members of Serendipitydodah MTK are in the main Serendipitydodah Facebook group.

SERENDIPITYDODAH BLUE OCEAN FAITH is a subgroup for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via it’s online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports LGBTQ+ people and those that support them.

SERENDIPITYDODAH #BEYOU is a subgroup for LGBTQ+ youth. The group is private – a place where LGBTQ+ youth can make connections with other LGBTQ+ youth, talk about their journeys, and be vulnerable with their stories and questions without fear of judgement.

SERENDIPITYDODAH DOUBLE RAINBOW is a subgroup for moms of LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The conversation in this subgroup is specific to LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. All members are in the main group.

Several Special Programs are available for members:

Mama Bears to the Rescue invites members of Serendipitydodah to volunteer to offer support and encouragement to LGBTQ people. The focus is small acts of kindness, making personal connections and being a loving presence in the life of LGBTQ people who have lost support due to their LGBTQ status. Mama Bears to the Rescue do things such as include LGBTQ people who need support in their holiday gatherings, stand in as affirming moms at same sex weddings, send notes of encouragement, find helpful resources, make hospirtal visits, talk on the phone, text, get together for coffee or lunch etc

Mama Bear Safer Schools Program – Many times LGBTQ+ students don’t get the support, respect and protection they deserve at school. The Mama Bear Safer School program provides a free printable flyer with 5 tips (or talking points) to create safer schools for LGBTQ+ students along with a collection of helpful resources. Sometimes all it takes is a few friendly conversations to create a spark that will lead to positive change. Together we can make schools safer for our LGBTQ+ students.

The Mama Bear Story Project –  Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. The Mama Bear Story Project provides a stage for the members of “Serendipitydodah for Moms” to share autobiographical essays and personal portraits in an effort to connect with other moms like themselves and to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live.  The project was started in January 2017 and as of July 2018 has published more than 30 essays written by a mom of an lgbtq kid. Each essay includes a portrait of the mom and is shared on The Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page and on the Serendipitydodah Public Blog.

The Mama Bear Made With Love Project invites members of Serendipitydodah for Moms to make heart patterned friendship bracelets for members of the lgbtq community to remind them they are loved just the way they are. Anyone can submit lgbtq people to receive a “Made With Love Bracelet” by sending the person’s name and address in an email to lizdyer55@gmail.com (feel free to also add some information about the person). This is more than a bracelet – this is a movement created by moms of lgbtq kids who are committed to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live. (This project is US only)

The Mama Bear Blanket Project delivers handmade blankets to LGBTQ teens and young adults who find themselves not supported by their family. The hope is that the blankets delivered to them will serve as a reminder that there is someone who loves and cares about them. Moms of LGBTQ kids who are members of the Serendipitydodah for Moms Facebook group are invited to make no-sew fleece blankets and mail them to assigned recipients. You can nominate someone to receive a Mama Bear Blanket by emailing their name and address to lizdyer55@gmail.com  This project was inspired by Mama Bear Anita Cockrum, a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms, who started The Banner Blanket Project. (This project is US only)

A helpful list of resources for parents of lgbtq kids can be found here.

For more info visit our website at realmamabears.org 


Mama Bear Story Project #57 – Kate Liebetrau

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

My daughter was born a rainbow baby, after a previous loss. I was attacked at age 19 and my reproductive system badly damaged, but miraculously was able to carry her full term. We wanted to call her Phoenix, as she and I are rising from the ashes, but someone said it was a boy name and an awful choice. So, we went with Gabrielle Taylor (family reasons), but I always referred to her as my little Phoenix, my Pea.

So that she would know that, regardless of anything in life, I will always love and support her, I had her name tattooed on my spine as an Ambigram which reads Perfect Miracle the other way.

In our very equal rights house, she is raised under love is love, respect is a right. When she was about 4 she told me she was “bischmecshuwal.”

At age 10 she was diagnosed with Aspergers/ASD1, after a long road to figure out her struggles.

At age 13 she said she preferred to be called by her nickname Phoenix and told me she is queer and likes girls, only girls and not boys.

So, my rainbow baby is a rainbow 3 ways … birth after loss, spectrum and lgbtq!

To honor her, I updated my spine tattoo and put a Phoenix above her name with a rainbow tail to symbolize my endless support for her (and my) many struggles where we keep emerging from the ashes, and for our continued ability to. To know she can keep inventing herself and that struggles like spectrum don’t have to be hidden, but be her superpower too.

Hats off to all moms and all your journeys.

May we all keep rising.


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 31,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Mama Bear Story Project #56 – Sandy Diaz

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

Relearning Gender

When we are little, we learn that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Many of us also learn that boys like cars and blocks, bugs, superheroes, dirt, snails and puppy dog tails. They have short hair, and wear pants. Girls, however, prefer dolls and tea parties, princess movies, crafts, sugar and spice and everything nice. They have long hair, use makeup and wear dresses. We learn, when we’re little, that gender is finite. In fact, a measured milestone for children is that they know the difference between genders and can identify their own gender by the time they are 3 or 4. Children use all of their experiences, observations and what they’ve been told to differentiate between boys and girls, between male and female. They determine the differences based on social and societal norms in their culture and their environment.

My son knew what the rest of us couldn’t…  He IS a boy.  

When my son first tried to come out to me as a transgender man his freshmen year, I wasn’t completely prepared, but it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. He has always, since the time he could choose for himself, preferred a more masculine look. From his pants and shirts to his swimming trunks and rash guards, we bought 97% of his clothing from the “boys” section of the store. The other 3% were his underwear, for which I insisted on “girls” underwear. For whatever reason, that wasn’t a line that I was willing to cross. During play, he chose to be the prince or the boyfriend or the brother. He’d happily play Barbie with his sister, but he would be Ken. In the home movies that he and his sister recorded, he can often be heard saying, “pretend I’m Freddy, your brother.” When he tried to come out, I had already begun thinking about the idea of gender. I strongly believe that gender is a spectrum and that there is no one way to be a woman and no one way to be a man. Women are as strong and brave and smart as men, and men are as sensitive and empathetic and creative as women. Some women are considered to be masculine and some men could be considered feminine. What really matters about a person is that they pursue the things that they love, and that they don’t let anyone change who they are…

BUT…

Could he please just continue to be “Gaby?” Could he be the “Gaby” who sometimes wears pink and always wears pants, the “Gaby” who likes cars, and sports, and also enjoys drawing and creating stories about Tito the Soccer Dog? Could he just be the “Gaby” who fiercely loves family and would protect them at all costs? Could he just be “Gaby” without the labels?

Please?

I was afraid of a lot of things three years ago. I was afraid of how the world would treat my child. I was most afraid of how his father would react and how our family would treat him. I’m still afraid of those things. What I failed to consider then was how continuing to deny who he is could and would affect HIM.  

I’ve done a lot of reading in this area which, in turn, has contributed to a lot of my own unlearning and relearning about gender and gender dysphoria. So, when he sent me a Tik Tok video of a transgender man documenting his own transition process beginning with testosterone injections, I thought to ask, “Gaby? Are you trying to tell me something with this video?” When he replied, “yes,” I accepted his YES. 

I’ve heard a lot of the statistics, many of which are really scary. I probably only know about 5% of what I will learn in the coming months and years, but I do know that I can believe and trust my son when he tells me WHO he is, regardless, or in spite of what the world or anyone else thinks or says. I will continue to learn so that I can guide where possible and follow where I need to as my son continues on his path to live authentically as HIS TRUE IDENTITY. 

My son is 18. His name is Gabriel. You can call him “Gabe.” He wants to be a firefighter when he “grows up.” When referring to him, you may use he/him pronouns. He is gracious and understanding. He knows that we will all make mistakes and trip and stumble. I do it ALL of the FECKING time! I’ve been heard to say, “she…argh…SHIT…he,” and then we move on. It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to take some courage from all of us. It’s going to require massive amounts of kindness.

I am confident in us, though. I am confident that my  people can, as Brené Brown says at the end of every one of her podcast episodes, “Stay awkward, brave and kind.”


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 31,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Together We Can Change The World

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If you are not already a monthly supporter of the Mama Bears organization please consider giving to the Mama Bears organization today on #GivingTuesday.

For as little as $2 a month you can become a monthly supporter of the Mama Bears organization.

The Mama Bears organization is dedicated to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ+ people to live and thrive.

We support, educate and empower parents of LGBTQ+ kids and the LGBTQ+ community.

We offer a network of private groups, websites, resources and special programs including our Mama Bears to the Rescue program, Mama Bear Safer Schools Program, Mama Bear Blanket program and Mama Bear Little Box of Rainbows program.

It takes a lot of hours and a lot of money to keep everything going. If you would like to see us continue to do the work we do we need your support.

Your support will help keep the Mama Bears organization going and growing so our groups, websites, resources and special programs remain available.

Become a monthly supporter for as little as $2 a month HERE ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!!

Campus Pride releases “The Absolute Worst, Most Unsafe Campuses For LGBTQ Youth” in the nation.

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Campus Pride releases “The Absolute Worst, Most Unsafe Campuses For LGBTQ Youth” in the nation.

At 180 schools, the list is the longest it has been in its six-year history.

The colleges and universities included in this year’s list have either received or applied for a Title IX religious exemption to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth, or they have a demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices.

“These aren’t just bad campuses or the worst campuses — these campuses fundamentally are unsafe for LGBTQ students, and, as a result, they’re fundamentally unsafe for all students to go to,” Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, said.

LGBTQ+ crisis support hotlines and resources

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Crisis Intervention/Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (online chat available)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743
Both provide telephone, online private one-to-one chat and email peer-support, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States.

Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.

Youth Information

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)
Provides advice and assistance to runaways, including resources, shelter, transportation, assistance in finding counseling, and transitioning back to home life. NRS frontline staff will also act as advocates and mediators if/as needed.

The True Colors United: (212) 461-4401
The True Colors Fund is working to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves. True Colors United runs a database of service providers.

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)
Addresses individuals coping with non-suicidal self-injury, including locally-based information, support and therapy referrals.

HIV/AIDS Information

AIDS in Prison Project Hotline: (718) 378-7022 (English and Spanish)
This hotline provides HIV and AIDS information for prisoners, and accepts collect calls.

US States AIDS Hotlines and Resources

Other Hotlines

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 (English and Spanish) (800) 787-3224 (TTY)
They also have an online chat feature available. Operating around the clock, seven days a week, confidential and free of cost, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Highly trained, experienced advocates offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.

Pride Institute: (800) 547-7433 24/7
Chemical dependency/mental health referral and information hotline for the LGBTQ community.

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)
The nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence, RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Go here for links to more resources 

Mama Bear Story Project #55 – Harriet Sutton

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

When my first child was born, he had sparkling blue eyes, blond hair and an infectious laugh. I felt an immediate bond with him and he stole my heart. He grew into a beautifully creative boy who also loved basketball and roller blading.

We were attending a Presbyterian Church while he and his four siblings were growing up. We firmly believed the very conservative teachings of this church, including their teachings that homosexuality is a sin. He loved going to our church and accepted Jesus at an early age. He participated in Sunday School, church services, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday Night dinners, and youth group. Later, in his church life, he started working in the nursery on a regular basis.  I look back at this time and I don’t understand why I didn’t question some of their teachings, but it would take much greater events to start my metamorphosis.

When my son was around 17, he was outed by a man in our neighborhood. Our internet was connected somehow to theirs and, unbeknownst to us, the man had been tracking my son’s messages to and from other people. My son was taken by total surprise when he was outed and my ex-husband and I were completely blindsided. I look back on that day with shame and regret, remembering how we repeated our church’s beliefs to our son. How could we be so heartless and so uncaring? This was the beginning of a difficult journey for our family.

My heart began to soften and change the day he came home and told me that the ministers wife stated that he no longer worked in the nursery.  Immediately, images started popping up in my head of my son standing there, confused and heartbroken and not knowing why. It became obvious to me that he was being punished for being himself. This was one of the events that made me start to question and doubt what we had been taught for so many years. Why would a good theology lead to such bad fruit? Where was the love the Bible talks about? How was it okay for people in a church to love and adore a child as he grows up just to turn on him when they find out he is gay?

I began questioning what we had been taught and this threw me into many years of studying, learning, and deconstructing my faith. It was not an easy journey, but it was well worth it. My heart was filled with joy when I came to the realization that the Bible does not condemn homosexuals and that God created them just the way they are. My theology changed from one of fear and judgement to one of love and acceptance. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I could now see how horribly many churches treat the gay community.

I have gone to my grown son several times, in tears, and asked for his forgiveness for the words I said in the past and the terrible way I handled things when he was younger. I have so much remorse and sorrow about that time. But he has forgiven me and I have finally been able to forgive myself. There has been so much forgiveness, healing and growth in our relationship. I truly believe that having a gay son turned out to be one of the greatest blessings in my life and that it led to wonderful growth and changes in my heart and mind and I treasure my relationship with him immensely.

Much has changed since 1988. At the end of 2020, my precious youngest daughter came to me and told me that she is gay. I was immediately excited and happy for her. I could see the joy on her face at having discovered who she really is and I have watched her blossom ever since. I am thankful that I am not who I used to be, that I have grown and changed, and that what I now believe can help me be an encouragement and a support to others.

I may not be able to change the past, but I can rewrite the present and future and it will be better, brighter, more loving and more accepting than ever before. That is the hope we have, when we open ourselves up to studying and learning new things…there is freedom when we get to let go of the chains of a rigid conservative theology. We can stop judging and condemning others and start loving them the way God wanted us to in the first place. We can also learn to forgive ourselves.

This year, I decided to fulfill the lifelong dream of writing a book. I wrote a book called Riley Rae’s Pronouns, for ages 2-7. It is about a child that uses the pronouns them and they. I was able to publish it on Amazon and it is now available. In the “About the Author” section, I mentioned the Mama Bears organization, in hopes that it could help anyone out there that is searching for answer. It’s my wish that my book will touch hearts, change minds, and make a difference in the world.


You can purchase Harriet’s book “Riley Rae’s Pronouns” for ages 2-7 here.

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 29,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

That’s A Really Good Question #7 – Are there any non-binary terms I can use in place of “Sir” and “Ma’am”?

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Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series addresses common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group visit our website realmamabears.org

Asking if there is a non binary term to use instead of using ma’am or sir is a question that is frequently asked by Mama Bears.  

It’s commendable to want to address people respectfully using terms that don’t unnecessarily gender them. 

There are people who recommend terms like Xe or Mx, but those terms are not well known and more than likely get a quizzical blank stare from most people if you use them and, therefore, may not be appropriate in many settings.

That means, at this point in time, until those terms enter mainstream usage, the best option is to avoid gendered terms entirely.

Rather than saying “excuse me, ma’am” one can simply say “excuse me” in a polite tone. 

When an employee is talking to a customer and wants to be formal, they can do that by adding more deferential wording to their statement: “Pardon me, would you be so kind as to store your belongings in the overhead compartment so the aisle is clear?”

As long as one is polite and cordial this will approach work well in most all cases. However, if the person being addressed feels slighted by not being addressed as “sir” or “ma’am” they’ll likely speak up about it and one will know what to call them. If that happens simply apologize, thank them for sharing how they prefer to be addressed and then use the preferred term going forward.

Sooooo … the short answer is to just not use gendered terms. If someone complains, apologize and use the term they want you to use. 

Mama Bear Story Project #54 – Staci Frenes

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

Our daughter Abby came out to us, unexpectedly, at the age of 16, and in that moment, I felt my tidy Christian world begin to unravel. In our Jesus-loving, evangelical-church-going family, this just didn’t seem possible. In the months and years that followed, I learned to make room for many things along the way, including questions that required stretching and expanding my old ways of thinking.

Most pressing on my heart was the dilemma of how to fit Abby’s sexual orientation within the context of my faith. I understood that Abby being gay wasn’t simply a phase or a choice, and I believed God didn’t love her any less because she was gay. But I had concerns about her future that were troublesome and unsettling to me. I wanted her to be happy and healthy, as any mother would, and also to flourish emotionally and spiritually.

Which is why I was saddened, but not surprised, when Abby stopped coming to church with us. My first instinct was to do everything in my power to drag her with us on Sundays—whether she liked it or not—but I could see that after coming out she felt less at home there (as we did too, over time.) She didn’t want to be part of a community where she wasn’t accepted for who she was, and as a result began seeking out a new group of friends, many of whom were also LGBTQ.

At first, I was a little panicky at the thought of Abby hanging out with mostly LGBTQ friends. The idea of a “gay community” was way outside my realm of experience or knowledge and I wanted to know everything I could about the people she spent time with, even the things that seemed silly or random on the surface. Like, why did some of her friends wear androgynous-looking clothes or cut their hair so short? She often rolled her eyes at my naivete, like an adult who finds a child amusing, but I was grateful hearing her perspective.

Underlying our conversations was my irrational fear that Abby would be pulled into relationships and experiences she wasn’t emotionally prepared to navigate. She was young in ways that seemed tender and impressionable. Sure, she had a driver’s license and a part-time job, but she was still balancing on that precarious edge between young woman and older girl—a ripe catch for someone who might influence her negatively. The notion of a gay community, lifestyle,
or culture, had always seemed a little dangerous in my imagination, and I feared it would suck her into its clutches.

Mind you, I had almost zero personal experience with actual gay people. I was a product of my times and culture, coming of age in the 80’s in conservative Christian circles. Knowing someone who was gay and out was about as common as knowing someone who had time traveled. Even as a teenager living in the San Francisco Bay Area, my understanding of gay culture was formed mostly from what I saw on TV of the annual Pride parade. No one in my church or friend circles talked openly about gay people. It was all taboo and hush-hush, and made for a lot of speculation, jokes and titillating gossip.

In my twenties I could count on one hand the number of gay people I knew personally. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties and early forties that I had friends who I knew to be gay and out. But old stereotypes from my past persisted, and when my newly-out daughter started spending more time with her LGBTQ friends and less time at church, my instinct was to circle the wagons in order to protect her from the dangers I feared would be awaiting her. I just wasn’t sure what those dangers were, exactly.

My paranoia seems so irrational to me now, but I felt like an outsider in her world. I didn’t know what was true and what was my own imagination. Fear of the unknown fueled my worry. I hated the thought of a chasm growing between my daughter. If I allowed myself to believe that in coming out, my daughter had become something other than the Abby I’d always known and loved, that she had become one of them, I knew I’d lose her. I couldn’t bear the thought of it.

Someone wise once said if you want to build a bridge you have to spend time on both sides you’re trying to connect. Obviously, separating myself from Abby’s growing new community of friends wasn’t going to help me cross my gulf of fear, so I decided to take baby steps toward it instead. As usual those steps were at first awkward and uncomfortable.

While my former conservative-Christian self couldn’t have ever imagined darkening the door of a lesbian bar, that’s exactly what I did one evening when Abby invited me to come and hear her sing at a club. Though not yet 21, she had been performing for a while at some of the local open mic nights. The customers at this particular club happened to be mostly lesbians—I said yes before I could chicken out. I was nervous and about as far out of my element as I could get. I’m sure everything about my sensible outfit and self-conscious demeanor screamed Heterosexual Christian Mom!—but despite my discomfort I actually managed to enjoyed myself.

Sitting at a table with a few of Abby’s friends, I mostly just listened as they laughed and talked about school, work, relationships—the usual stuff. They were sensitive to my newbie status in their world and graciously invited me into the conversation at various points. Gradually, I felt the tension in my body relax as an unexpected realization sunk in: I was among friends. No one acting inappropriately or out of control; just a handful of young women listening to music and having a few drinks with friends.

That evening proved to be a small but profound revelation that opened up my thinking about what an LGBTQ community looked like. As far as I could tell, it was like any group of young people, with the same desire for belonging and companionship you’d expect to see in any community. The more time I spent in those casual settings with Abby and her friends the more I learned to see them as people beyond just a label or category.

It’s difficult to admit that until Abby came out, I didn’t think much about the biases I’d been harboring about gay people since as far back as childhood. I never imagined the LGBTQ community could include kids like mine, from families like ours. Kids who were just trying to figure out their lives, find their path, make their parents proud. I watched Abby’s gay and non-gay friends alike go through similar life experiences: auditioning for their dream gigs, scraping
to make ends meet in college, struggling through break-ups, moving away from home, getting their first full-time jobs. The details varied but all of them were just young people trying to make the awkward leap into adulthood the best way they knew how.

The distinctions between “us” and “them” I once thought clearly defined became blurry. I saw that people are far more alike than we are different. One of my favorite lines from Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird is when Scout says, “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”I’ve tried to keep these words close to my heart as Abby has moved in and out of friendships and relationships with people I’ve grown to love. It’s hard to imagine I was once worried about her spending time with these LGBTQ “folks” I’ve sat across tables from, laughed with, cried with, and made room for their stories in my heart. My life is bigger and more beautiful because they are in it.


This story was excerpted from the book “Love Makes Room” by Staci Frenes and shared with the author’s permission. Staci’s book can be purchased here and wherever books are sold.

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 26,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears organization visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Mama Bear Story Project #53 – Chris Pepple

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

A Mama Bear Moment …

A couple of summers ago something miraculous happened. I saw my son smile and laugh again. He wanted to do things with me and my daughter again—he sat for family meals with me and asked to go grab ice cream. That summer, he asked me if I would take a day off work and go to campus with him and have lunch and just hang out and talk. I almost cried. Well, honestly, I cried tears of joy, but I waited until he wasn’t around because I wasn’t sure he would know for sure that they were “happy tears.”

When he was a child, he had started asking me questions about why he had to put a shirt on at the beach. I didn’t think anything about it, and I just said, “Because you do.” As he grew, he became increasingly rebellious and anxious and withdrawn. Soon, he was showing signs of deep depression, and we weren’t close at all. I couldn’t reach him anymore. What I didn’t know was how deeply he was hurting inside. His soul was tearing apart because he loved me enough to not want to hurt me. See, I’m a single Mom of two kids, and for years I called us “the Pepple girls.” I signed Christmas cards that way. I even had a frame that said it. That’s how everyone knew us—we were the three Pepple girls.

But, you see, my son was just assigned the gender of female at birth. He wasn’t really “my girl.” I didn’t know enough about gender to question anything. I looked at the outside and assumed it matched what was on the inside. How wrong I was! When he finally found the courage to tell me, it was an answer to prayers because I knew then that we could stand together and search for a way forward. Nothing instantly changed, of course, because neither of us knew anything about how to help him become the person he knew he was born to be. I was part of the problem, because I had to learn about depression and teens and gender and lots of things. But I was willing to learn and correct my previous parenting mistakes and seek resources.

I saw an affirming pastor make a Facebook post to another person who had commented on her page. She offered to send him resources to back up a point she was making. about the LGBTQ+ community. I truly didn’t even read the original post, but instead immediately messaged her and asked if she could send me resources. She asked me what type of information I was looking for, so I decided to be honest and just say out loud for the first time that I had a transgender child who just shared the news with me and didn’t know how to move forward. That’s when I found the Mama Bears! What a blessing. And he found a counselor and an endocrinologist that have guided us so well.

I still had a lot to learn. I had to find the words to tell family and friends. And I had to learn to let go. I let go of people who were unwilling to listen and learn along with us—people who just blindly judged and were negative. But for every person who walked out of our lives, three more walked in. For every tear, we were given laughter also. For events we were excluded from, new friends opened doors for new events. Now we walk in Pride events…I meet up with Mama Bears…he has a queer youth theatre group…we found a new church.

I still worry for his safety because so many people carry so much hate towards people who are transgender. But I have so much fun being the Pepple People now. My daughter is so affirming, and some of our family members are. The others are missing out on the blessing of knowing my son. I’ve learned how to love deeper and speak louder about that love. I’ve learned how to listen and how to open my life up to new experiences and new people. I hope I never stop learning…and I know I’ll never stop loving both of my children who are growing into the people they were created to be.


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 25,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.