Mama Bear Story Project #46 – Jennifer O’Rourke


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

Jennifer O'Rourke

In 2017, I watched my daughter, Kat, sit on stage ready to be baptized. A woman who was standing next to her said in front of the whole audience, “One of my favorite things about you is the energy and the light that you have in you for the kids. You’re there every Sunday, worshipping and leading a small group. It is my honor to baptize you today.”

I was so proud of my daughter that day. She was 15 and passionately devoted to God and her church. I was glad to be in a church where the senior pastor, Andy Stanley, once preached that the “church should be the safest place on the planet for gay teens.” I couldn’t have expected then what would happen a year later.

Last June, my daughter showed up to church to lead worship in the elementary environment. The same woman, Christy, who had baptized her told her that morning that because she had come out as gay on Instagram, she could no longer serve in leadership, meaning she could no longer be a worship leader or lead her second-grade small group. She was, however, allowed to volunteer in other ways, such as handing out flyers and working in the parking team — just no leadership roles. Our daughter was crushed. Kat had felt called to work with children (she’s currently working towards a degree in pediatric oncology) and to sing, and she felt that the church had just taken her purpose away.

What followed was the worst three months of our lives as parents. She went from a happy-go-lucky girl to someone who had suicidal thoughts and needed to be watched over 24/7. She’s much better now, but it was devastating then for her to lose her sense of purpose and all of her friends. My husband, who volunteered as a technical director there, and I, who worked with 3 to 4-year-old kids in the church, lost our friend-groups as well.

The loss was doubly painful because we moved to Georgia because we had felt called to be in this church. We started attending Andy Stanley’s church in the late 1990’s. We spent a decade in his church before moving to Massachusetts for my husband’s work in 2009. We would drive for 20 hours down to Atlanta for Christmas and Easter services; we watched Stanley’s sermons online every week.

Five years ago, my husband was offered a choice to relocate to anywhere in the United States. We picked Georgia because of North Point Ministries. We attended Woodstock City Church, where Stanley’s sermons were beamed in every Sunday (NPM has six churches across Georgia). Our entire family’s lives revolved around our church, including Kat’s. Every Sunday, she would go to church to lead worship at the 9am service, lead a 2nd-grade small group at 11am, then worship at the 1:30pm adult service, and then finally attend the high school service at 4:30pm. She “hosts” a bible study in her car before school and writes an inspirational Christian blog.

I’d always been affirming of the LGBT-community. A few years ago, I heard Andy preach that the church should be the “safest place for gay youth.” These words were music to my ears. I had always wondered if my views lined up with my church on this topic and I finally felt I had clear confirmation that we were on the same page. I had also heard him preach a sermon incorporating a story about a gay couple who volunteered at his church. I never felt a need to ask further questions back then.

Before I knew my daughter was gay, my husband and I had already assured her and all our children that we would be a safe place for them if they did come out. We even offered to house any of their friends who might need a safe place to crash after coming out to their parents. So when she did come out to us in February 2018, it was a fairly nonchalant affair. She told her close friends and even her small group in church, and everyone was amazingly supportive.

Things changed in June 2018. Billboard Magazine was doing a series about celebrities who had come out, and Kat decided that she wanted to come out publicly on Facebook. She posted a beautiful “love letter” to the gay community and for the first time publicly declared that she is gay. It was part of a campaign for PRIDE month and I couldn’t be prouder of the words she wrote. The comments she received were so positive and uplifting.

She received no negative feedback until she attended church the next weekend, where she was told she could no longer lead at North Point Ministries. She felt disowned by her church family. When her birthday rolled around in August, no one from church — her main community — celebrated it with her.

The leaders at our church gave various ‘reasons’ why she could no longer lead. One person on staff told her that it was for her safety that they didn’t want her to lead, as they did not want anyone who was against gay people to confront her at church. When Kat responded, saying, “I will have to deal with this my whole life, I don’t mind dealing with it,” they told her that these confrontations would take the focus away from what they were trying to do at church.

The pastor of Woodstock City Church, Gavin, wrote to us in late July that “in most of our leadership volunteer positions (small group leaders, stage, etc.), when a person goes through a significant life change moment (as Kaitlyn is doing), we often ask them to step away for a season for their own health.” I told him that I did consider my daughter’s coming out as a “significant life change,” but it was a “positive” one that should be celebrated. “As far as I know the church doesn’t have you take a break when you get engaged, married, find out your expecting or buying your first home. Why would they?” I replied.

Gavin responded via email* more than a week later with his rationale for why he had to ask my daughter to step away:

“Your daughter’s public pronouncement can be celebrated by family and friends. But if we ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen publicly, we potentially will cause others to stumble: other volunteers who are still exploring faith, other parents who don’t agree or understand, and other kids who aren’t ready for this conversation.

“If I could say it this way: This is so much bigger than your daughter. Paul believed it was way bigger than him, too. This is as big as our mission and the Kingdom, and anything that could cause our mission to suffer is always considered. Sometimes that feels deeply personal. But I would ask you to consider if it’s worth taking this stand and continuing to volunteer in the exact same position if someone else’s faith would struggle or never begin.” (bolding is my emphasis)

Once I realized he was implying that our fight for our daughter would cause other people to lose their faith, and he was implicitly asking us if we wanted that responsibility on our hands, I stopped communicating. I was done.

I do not know why “the safest place in the world for gay teens” has a policy that will not allow gay people to be in leadership. I do know that if I knew about this policy of North Point Ministries, I would not have started going here twenty years ago. I feel misled by Andy Stanley; he was not only lying to us, he was deceiving gay people in his church. My daughter thought her church was a safe place to bring her gay friends, and she still feels guilty for having exposed her friends to that church.

I met with Woodstock’s leadership to let them know that their policies needed to match their preaching, and that if they weren’t going to let gay people in every position then they needed to be clear about that upfront. I was told that it was because of my daughter’s choice to come out publicly that the church’s hands were tied so they had to enforce their policy.

After the last communication with Woodstock’s leadership, my family and I, with broken hearts, began the search for a new church. We’ve since met amazing community and my daughter has found a new place that encourages her to use her gifts. She’s dating someone, and we have found joy in ways we did not expect.

I only hope that North Point Ministries will understand that while they may have ‘good intentions,’ to be unclear is never the loving thing to do. It only causes harm.


Serendipitydodah for Moms – 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 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Mama Bear Story Project #45 – Jenny Morgan


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

Jenny Morgan bw


We are all God’s children, and we all deserve love, grace, and mercy.

Throughout my life my faith has been challenged, but I have always found my way back to God. This is a story about my faith, as I understood it, being ripped to pieces and my beliefs about God all but destroyed. It is a story about finally coming back to my faith and to a God who loves all, unconditionally. This is a story about my daughter finding her courage to be true to herself and risking it all to reveal that to everyone around her.

My daughter was always a curious, sensitive child with deep thoughts and a heart of love. But when she hit puberty, it was like a dark hole swallowed up the child I knew and loved. My teen became sullen and angry with everyone, with life. I thought it was because she was bullied at school and because we had moved far away from the only hometown she knew. After much conferring, we felt it necessary and important to enroll her in a private Christian school. Life seemed better, but there were still tremendous mood swings. I figured it was a phase they would grow out of. Soon, they graduated and went off to college. Again, I figured life was going to get better for her, that she would find her wings and fly. Little did I know…we were about to embark on a journey none of us were prepared for.

It became apparent that something was seriously wrong, but Autumn would not talk to us about it. All she said, was that, if she told us, it would destroy us. I assured her that nothing she was hiding could destroy us. As Autumn became more and more disengaged and troubled we decided it was time for her to come home from school and get help. From my view, life continued to be bleak and dark for Autumn, but she would not open up to us or anyone. Finally, one day in November 2014, Autumn came out. She explained, that in short, she had been born in the wrong body. Although, gendered as a boy at birth, in reality she was a female in her heart, soul, and mind. I won’t lie, my world came crashing down. I carried on, but I began to question everything.

Autumn’s fear of her secret destroying us was not far from the truth, but one thing remained – my love for my child. That could not be destroyed. We were devastated – how would our future look for each of us moving forward? So, our journey began anew. No longer a son, but a daughter. Eighteen months later, Autumn came out to the world, declaring her new name and her new identity, an identity she had hid for years, one that she was aware of, but one we had no clue about. That same day, I came out to those around me. People could choose to walk with me or walk away. It was not open for discussion. I have been blessed that so many of my friends and family continued to walk with us and embrace Autumn as her true self.

I have been fortunate – not many people have challenged me on how my faith can accept a transgender child. Those that have questioned, must not truly know my child. This is not a choice and there is no “agenda”. It is not about Satan getting a hold of my child, as some may think. My child is not lost. She is not a freak. And she most certainly is not damned to hell. She is loved and cherished and accepted by a God much bigger than the box many try to put Him Autumn is a delight. She is kind and sensitive. She is a blessing to those around her. She is a true friend to those who know her and accept her. And, perhaps most important – she is brave, strong, and courageous.

My story is about grace, love and mercy. God’s loving arms are big enough to hold everyone. After all, Christ instructed us to love one another, not judge one another.


Serendipitydodah for Moms – 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 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Tips For LGBTQ Allies


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I’ve spent a lot of time listening to LGBTQ people about what they need and want from those of us who are straight and want to stand with them and for them. The tips I am sharing come from listening and learning from LGBTQ people. These are not exhaustive, however, they are what I consider to be some of the most important things to strive for if you want to be a good ally. Feel free to add more tips in the comment section.


Now for some tips …

(1) Be a good listener. One of the best things you can do to become a good ally is to listen to LGBTQ people – listen to their stories, listen to their concerns, listen to their opinions. I spent the first year after my son came out just listening and learning from LGBTQ people before I started speaking out or trying to help others. It takes a while to start to see through the eyes of those we want to advocate for and being a good listener is one of the best ways to begin to understand what LGBTQ people need and want from their allies.

(2) Be open-minded. If you are open minded you will be able to grow into a much better ally in a much shorter period of time. Don’t be afraid to let go of your preconceived ideas. Come to the conversation as if you have no ideas about LGBTQ people or what it means to be a good ally. Be ready to admit you don’t know or that you are wrong. Be honest about what you don’t know and be ready to learn. Those who are intentionally open minded end up making the best allies.

(3) Be inclusive and invite LGBTQ friends to hang out with you and your friends and family. Be intentional about it. Make connections and build relationships. Include LGBTQ people in your real life. Invite them to your home, include them in special occasions, include them when you go out to dinner with friends or to see a movie. The best allies are better known as “friends”

(4) Speak up if anti-LGBT comments or jokes are made – even if the intent is not malicious. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that those things are inappropriate and offensive. Be prepared in advance as to how you will gently, but firmly, confront inappropriate and offensive comments or jokes. If you have a plan in place you are more likely to speak up.

(5) Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so, and don’t be defensive if someone points out that something you are saying or thinking does not seem supportive. It’s difficult for us to see through each other’s eyes but not impossible. This is where listening and being open minded will really come in handy. One of the hardest things for allies to do is to handle criticism. One of the reasons I think this is the case is because some of the most devoted allies are people who are tender-hearted and tender-hearted people can be easily hurt. However, tender-hearted people can also be very strong and resilient, and those are the qualities that good allies need to lean into. I always say being a good ally is not for the faint-hearted but definitely for the tender-hearted. My friend Rachel Held Evans said her mantra was “tough skin – tender heart” and I think that is a great mantra for those of us who want to be good allies to the LGBTQ community.

(6) Challenge the discrimination of LGBTQ people. Defend LGBTQ people against discrimination. There are many ways to do this. You can do it by supporting organizations, institutions, individuals, laws and political parties that are for LGBTQ inclusion, equality and protections. You can do it by showing up at Pride events and showing your support. You can do it with your vote, your voice, your presence. You can do it on your social media sites and in your community. You can do it when you see any instance of discrimination happening or when any law allowing it to happen is being supported. Being a good ally means defending LGBTQ people against discrimination. This is not an option if you want to be a good ally to the LGBTQ community.

(7) Wholeheartedly embrace the idea that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. Make it a point to share this belief with others as often as possible. One of the most harmful things that LGBTQ people have to face is the idea that they are less than others. Good allies will make it clear that LGBTQ people do not belong in the margins of society. Good allies will take a strong stand for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in every way and every instance.

(8) Have a good understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Understand the difference, the language, and the appropriate way to speak and write about the subject. If you make a mistake apologize and learn from the mistake. There seems to always be a new term showing up. If you hear something that is new to you or you don’t understand do your research and learn what you need to know.

(9) Be aware of the coming-out process and realize that it is not a one-time event. If someone comes out to you listen, let them know you are honored that they shared with you and offer your support. Do not ‘out’ a person as LGBTQ to others. Respect people’s privacy and recognize that it should be their decision when and with whom to share their LGBTQ identity.

(10) Educate yourself and continue to educate yourself. There is always more to learn. Keep listening and learning. Keep reading. Keep asking questions. One thing I’ve noticed over the last twelve years is that things change. What was helpful 10 years ago may not be helpful today. The movement for equality, inclusion and protection evolves, language changes, the community grows. In order to be a good ally we have to keep educating ourselves. We can never know everything or too much.

(11) Find ways in your everyday life and in your own community to be a good ally and to advocate for LGBTQ people. Help your children or their friends file complaints about discrimination or harassment at your local school. Help organize events like celebrations for LGBTQ History Month at a local school or community center. Use your privilege to create safe spaces and shine a light on safe places that do exist. Volunteer at a local LGBTQ resource center. Show up at events that support LGBTQ people. Find something that you are good at and use it to support the LGBTQ community.

(12) Be visible. A good ally cannot be silent or invisible. One of the most important parts of being an ally is making yourself known as an ally. Making yourself visible may be as simple as wearing a rainbow bracelet or using inclusive language. It might mean showing up at Pride events or political events with a sign stating your pro-LGBTQ position. “Secretly” and “ally” don’t get to be used together. If you are not uncloseted in your support, you can’t be an ally.

Like I said earlier, this list is not exhaustive so if you have something to add please share a comment.

Thanks for your support – your allyship matters and is making a difference.

Together we can make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people to live.

Mama Bear Story Project #44 – Glenda Crump


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

Glenda Crump
Looking back now I can see that there were signs I/we should have picked up on. Like the many Christmas mornings that she discarded the dolls and frilly things and opted for her brothers cars and sports equipment. I should have noticed the lack of desire to wear lacy pink things and stating they were itchy when questioned. It should have been a clue when she adored only the female heroines in TV shows and movies. Certainly it should have been a red flag the day she told me she wanted to die young and when I asked her why she simply stated that no one cries over old people in an obituary but everyone is sad when someone young dies. I guess If I knew then what I know now I would have picked up on those clues but she didn’t even know she was gay yet how could we have known? In High school she just thought she was a good little Mormon girl when all her friends were having temptations with boys and getting into trouble and it wasn’t an issue for her at all. I suspect she started to realize the truth around  the age of 18. So she chose to go on a mission partly to delay the whole marriage issue and partly to ask her Heavenly Father that if she would serve Him for those 18 months if He would take away those feelings. She served valiantly but those feelings remained. After her mission my husband and I and 3 of her 8 siblings moved to Texas for work, and she went back to Utah State to continue her education….and she struggled. I was too far away to know the depths of her struggle or the pain and anguish she endured as she tried to navigate an unknown path completely alone. I knew she had depression and anxiety, I knew she had been to see doctors and a therapist, I knew she was on medication, I just didn’t know why she was suffering. My heart aches every time I think of how she must have felt alone and scared, knowing her future would never hold for her all that she had been promised, knowing her new path would take her away from the church she had grown up in, served in and Loved, knowing her secret would destroy her family.

I remember when she was having a hard time with a relationship she was having and I guess I just knew. We were talking on the phone, she was once again sad and I asked her if this painful relationship was a girl. Silence! Heartbreaking Silence on both ends! Then she just sobbed into the phone and my world crashed around me. I wanted to grab her through the phone and hold her and tell her we would figure it out. At the time I thought it was something she could “overcome”. I remember getting on my knees many times and begging Heavenly Father to change her, to send her someone that she COULD fall in Love with, have a Temple Marriage and a family with. I lined her up with a friends brother-in-law, he liked her …she is sweet and beautiful and fun… and I had hope. Then one day on the phone she said “Mom I will marry him if that is what YOU want” NO that is not what I want! I want you to marry who will make YOU happy.  Sadly I realized the big wedding she always dreamed of and planned for was gone her Temple marriage was gone. My heart hurt for the grandchildren I would Never have. I did not know how to help her, I did not know where to turn. When I went to my Bishop for guidance he gave me none, except to compare my sweet innocent daughter to a pedophile… I felt all alone. I didn’t know anyone who was gay and I was embarrassed that people would find out. My prayers changed then. Instead of asking Him to change her I began to pray for understanding, for a knowledge of how to help her, and for comfort for all of us. I prayed He would comfort and strengthen her, and keep her safe. How do I combine my Love for my daughter with my Love for a Gospel that is a part of who I am? I wanted to be True to the teachings that have guided my entire life, I wanted to follow the Prophet who I Loved, but I needed to Love my daughter. How do you do both in a religion that basically condemns her? I was confused, lost, scared and alone. I feared for her future, I mourned for the loss of my grand kids I thought she could never give me. They were some of the darkest days I have ever experienced.

 I remember shopping one day and I got a text message from her that read “Mom, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to hurt you anymore, I don’t want to hurt anymore.” and she named a long list of pills she had taken. I tried to call her but she wouldn’t answer the phone. I panicked ….I was over a thousand miles away from her. Her brothers and sisters and dad were an hour and a half away. I contacted the only person I knew who lived in Logan and she went and got her and took her to the hospital. I got on the first plane I could to Utah and spent some time with her, trying to help her figure it all out. But I didn’t even know how, there were no resources, no leadership help, no one who would understand and guide us. Every day was terrifying and after that, I hated to hear my phone ring. I never knew if I would one day loose her, the fear was crushing. There were days I couldn’t focus on anything but how to help her. I prayed more than ever and I read every book and pamphlet about the topic I could get my hands on. I watched pod casts and videos, and Ted talks and then I heard about the Mama Bears and the Mama Dragons. I can’t describe how much these groups of Compassionate, Caring, Loving women changed my life. I found solace when I thought there was none. I found women who had the same love for the Gospel AND for their gay children as I did. I found support, comfort, understanding, guidance, and most of all Unconditional Love…Pure Christ like Love ..and it saved me. It was like a gasp of air… life saving air after being under water feeling like you’re going to die. We share stories, we laugh together til our sides ache, we Celebrate together and we Cry together…the kind of crying when the tears are running down your face and your nose runs and your heart can’t take the sorrow one more second. Meeting these Mama’s  in person is like coming home where you feel warm and safe, and it gives you a strength that you didn’t know you even had. We get together for lunches and it is such a comfort to hear their stories and to share my own. I AM NO LONGER ALONE! and I feel empowered to share what I know so that I can help other families and save the lives of other kids who are struggling with their new path of the unknown.

I now have the courage to share what I know with the leaders in my faith so that they can help youth who come to them for guidance. I am so grateful that I can share our story to help bring understanding and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. My daughter still went through difficult times but I was better equipped to help her and I was not ashamed to fully accept who she is and to LOVE her, truly LOVE her the way she needed to be loved. I see my daughter in a more perfect light the way God sees her, the way He created her. I was able to help my daughter see that she had an incredible wonderful life ahead of her and that she had support and acceptance from her whole family. It helped her to know she was accepted and loved but she still has difficult days. She was married to a woman, and she had that Big Beautiful wedding in a Gorgeous white dress. They have a darling 5 year old girl and a 3 year old little boy that we all adore. They have since divorced so my daughter is a single mom who is completely devoted to her children. She is a High school teacher, writer, and an artist. My Heart is full every day for how my life has been blessed with her and her 2 children in it.



Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Mama Bear Story Project #43 – Deena Hernandez


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



Hello! I guess you can say I’ve been a Mama Bear for years and didn’t even know it. My reason for being a Mama Bear, my everything, is now a grown handsome man who is also my Best Friend!

I grew up in a time when people were more concerned with Civil Rights than LGBTQ rights. In fact, it was so hush hush (and I was so naive) I never knew such a life existed.

My son was born when my first marriage was ending, so, it was just him and me for 4 years. He never cried. He was always bubbly and charming. People would always comment on how artistic he was. In High School he tried to date girls to please me. At the time I didn’t know he was doing this for me, but I did notice his bubbly attitude was diminishing.

One day we were driving somewhere and he turned to me and said very quietly, “Mom … remember when you said you wanted grand kids, and so and so said I was going to be gay, and you said not my son?”

At the time I didn’t remember saying that and I told him, “No. But what’s on your mind?”

“Well,” he said, “I’m that way,”

I listened to him and told him, “Who am I to tell you who to love? You’re my son. You’ll forever be my son. I love you and will support you in anything you choose. I have told you since birth that you have to live your dreams, because no one can live them for you. And that goes for love too.”

He’s actually 6 feet tall and from that moment on, I could literally see the clouds lift and he began to hold his head higher.

Those beginning years were not easy. My second husband was not very accepting. We had our differences. But I never stopped supporting my son.

Over the years my son made a name for himself by producing shows in West Hollywood. Of course I am always in the front row of his shows and these days he promotes up and coming artists at shows for Pride throughout the world. His clients are on Billboard and he is presently promoting a bisexual singer.

I go with him to the different clubs when he’s out networking. And he’ll introduce me to his friends. Almost every time I go with him I hear someone say, “I wish my mom would go out with me? I wish she would accept my friends. I wish she would accept me.” I tell them to never give up hope and share how I was once naive. I give them a lot of really great hugs, let them know I’m always available to talk and make sure they know how to reach me on messenger.

A couple of years ago my son was promoting a drag show at Bar 10 in Santa Monica and my husband said he wanted to attend. Of course, our mouths dropped wide open but we were happy for him to go and sit in the front row with me. At the end of the show my husband went to my son, gave him in a big hug and said how sorry he was that he had not been more open to him growing up. Lots of happy tears were shed that night and today we’re all a lot closer.

Not too long ago, my niece came out to my brother. When he told me about it, he said he saw how I was. The only advice I gave him was, “accept and love her, because they will be who they will be”

I’m really proud of my son and what he has accomplished.

We proudly march at Pride events together when we can.

I’m a personnel manager for Walmart and we often join other stores and march all together!

Years ago I wanted to make sure I taught my son not to see people for their race or color. I didn’t know that once day he would teach me to see people with love.


Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Dear Messrs. Chasten and Pete Buttigieg


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More than 1,600 moms of LGBTQ kids sign a letter to Chasten and Pete Buttigieg thanking them for showing up and speaking up for the inclusion and protection of LGBTQ people.



Dear Messrs. Chasten and Pete Buttigieg,

We belong to a large private Facebook group called Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears. The group was created for moms of LGBTQ kids who love and support their kids. We have more than 5,000 moms in the group and many of us are working to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people to live.

More than 1,600 of us are signing this letter because we wanted to say thank you for showing up and speaking up for LGBTQ equality and protection. Your commitment to work for the protection and inclusion of LGBTQ people gives us so much hope for our children’s future.

Many of us come from conservative Christian communities where we have been criticized, and sometimes shunned, for affirming and celebrating our LGBTQ children. We know there is often a price to pay when you show up and speak up on behalf of LGBTQ people, which is why we wanted to acknowledge you and express our gratitude.

We sincerely believe that showing up and speaking up is one of the bravest things anyone can do when it comes to fighting for justice. We believe people like you two serve as a catalyst when it comes to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people to live, and because of that we are forever grateful for both of you.

We believe that your willingness to wholeheartedly support LGBTQ people not only reflects the true spirit of America, but also demonstrates the idea that Paul put forth in Galatians 5:6 when he wrote “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

We are forever hopeful that others will follow your just and compassionate example.

With sincere gratitude and respect,

Abby De Fiesta Cortez
Adele Berardi
Adrienne Haslam
Agnes McKay
Aimee French
Aimee Ventura
Alanna Ireland
Alecia Moss
Aletheia Wall Zambesi
Ali Munshi
Alisa Tomette
Alise D Chaffins
Alisha Dobson
Alison Defrese
Alison Maier
Alissa Butler
Alix Maiden-Baillie
Allena Brown
Allison Baswell
Allison Diaz
Allison Gonzalez
Allison Wilson
Allyson Marcelle
Alyssa Miller
Amanda Corry Thorderson
Amanda Curtis Dwyer
Amanda Dalton
Amanda Garcia
Amanda Gayle
Amanda Grace Blackmon
Amanda J Brewer
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Patti Tienken-Boman
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Patty Loraine Woodruff
Patty McMonagle Dinschel
Patty Meriwether
Patty Sanders
Patty Simmons Connery
Patty Yamsek
Paula Unrau
Pauline Carlson
Pauline Carter
Pauline Cieri
Pauline Cornelius Carter
Pauline Daly
Peggy Graff-Perrett
Peggy Knight
Penny McCracken
Penny Orr
Penny Watne
Perri Fisher
Phyllis Barber
Rachael Carr
Rachael Hawkins
Rachael Wagner
Rachel A. Jones
Rachel Beckley
Rachel Belknap
Rachel Derman
Rachel Drouillard
Rachel Eve
Rachel Grimes
Rachel Keyte
Rachel Ross Boone
Rachel Sargent
Rachel Whitehall
Rae Ann Peil
Randi Puentes
Raven Nielsen
Rebecca Armstrong
Rebecca Baxter
Rebecca Cremeans
Rebecca Fako Uecker
Rebecca Hedges Lyon
Rebecca Little Swinney
Rebecca Nei
Rebecca Roberts
Rebecca Sayre
Rebecca Wilson
Regina Pitts Woods
Renae Erickson
Renae Shaffer-Stone
Renay Boyes
Renee Cuffe
Renee Hartweg
Renee K Williams Erwin
Renee Utley Bennink
Rewanna Carter
Rhiannan Stahnke
Rhonda Eubanks
Rhonda Hartzell
Rhonda Lorimor
Rhonda Morrison
Rhonda Smith Mailhos
Rhonda Wills-Johnson
Riah Daniels
Rika Moya
Rita Aycock Stout
Rita Daruvala
Rob Ullinger
Robbin Ramseur
Robin Beck
Robin Burt Schuster
Robin Fleck
Robin Gowan
Robin Preece Parker
Robin Protsman
Robin Spring
Robinette Nacca-Cooke
Robyn Deterding
Robyn Hill-Reed
Robyn S Haag
Robynne Buckingham
Rogena ‘Reggie’ Johnson
Roh Hardin
Ronda Zylstra
Ʀosaııie Ĺane
Rose Leahy
Rose Nemcosky Arneson
Rose Stucchio
Roseanne M. Shannon
Rosemarie Varrichio Campbell
Rosemary Bock
Rossana Neglia McLaughlin
Roxanna Villars Gambrell
Roz Cross
Ruth Roberts
S Anderson
S Brae Adams
Sabra Weimer
Sally Michelle Beach
Samantha Jill
Samantha Nelson
Samara LaRusch Jenkins
SanDee Hunter Duncan
Sandra Cathers
Sandra Gainer Fuentes
Sandra Jean Sessinger Zeiset
Sandra Miller Lenard
Sandra Nelson Harris
Sandra Vincent Richard
Sandra-Anne Rowe
Sandy Acevedo Degenhardt
Sandy Collins
Sandy Gregg
Sandy Kempton
Sandy LaFave
Sandy McClure
Sandy Van Dyne
Sara Burhans
Sara Cunningham
Sara Hoel May
Sara Lunde Larson
Sara Michener
Sara Oliver
Sara Vazquez
Sarah DeRubis
Sarah Jurhs
Sarah Keller Garcia
Sarah Langley
Sarah Mills Holbrook
Sarah Murphy
Sarah Quiara
Sarah Sherman Rocha
Sarah Thacker-Estell
Shana Ventola
Shannen Rhoda
Shannon Black
Shannon Bradley
Shannon Dorigan Cleburn
Shannon Eaton
Shannon Jarvis
Shannon Keefe
Shannon McCormack
Shannon Mcpherson Doherty
Shannon Sharesky
Sharon Bogner Anderson
Sharon Hanby Williams
Sharon Harding
Sharon Neill
Sharon Parish
Sharon Terrill
Shawn Rozett Senning
Shawna Dicintio
Shay Bisbee Haude
Sheila Allen
Sheila LaMontagne
Shelley Holland
Shelley McBride
Shelly Willis
Sheree Griffin
Sheri Cope
Sheri Martin
Sherilynn Hickenbottom
Sherri Jackson Simancas
Sherrl McFerrin Townsend
Sherry Baisden
Sherry Coutant
Sherry Pyles
Sheryl T Martin
Sheryl Warren Olszewski
Shirley Carley
Shirley Nunley
Shoshana Kronfeld
Sondy Eklund
Sonia Garza
Sonya Hook
Spring Davidson
Stacee Law Hendricks
Stacey Frazier
Stacey Jackson Baeumler
Stacey Mauger
Stacey Wadle
Staci Lee Kennelly
Stacie Adams
Stacie Houghtaling Belair
Stacy Gouge Drake
Stefani Ragsdale
Stefanie Bianchi Connolly
Stephanie Anderson
Stephanie Bullock
Stephanie Coleman Mack
Stephanie Daniels
Stephanie Ernst
Stephanie Gilbert
Stephanie Hooper
Stephanie Kreps
Stephanie McGreger
Stephanie Morales
Stephanie Niles Ray
Stephanie Redding
Stephanie Renner
Stephanie Stanley
Stephanie Thomas
Stevie Prince
Su Hall
Sue Cottle
Sue Ellen Ward Lowe
Sue Hadley
Sue Howard
Sue Reynolds
Sue Schultz
Sue Stewart Newman
Sue Tresatti
Sue West Helms
Sue White
Susan Berland
Susan Boyce
Susan Brown
Susan Cloys Seaman
Susan Dollar Michaels
Susan Foss Naranjo-Stultz
Susan Hammontree Fortney
Susan Jewell
Susan Julian
Susan Ledbetter
Susan M Jensen
Susan Mackenzie Treber
Susan Martin
Susan Merritt Slattery
Susan Metcalf
Susan Pritchard
Susan Rest Asplund
Susan Ridley Griffin
Susan Stockton Roberts
Susan Swann
Susan Ward
Susan Wardzinski
Susanna Bedser
Susy Rowe Barnhill
Suzanne Alexander
Suzanne Lambert Mann
Suzanne Martin
Sylvia Davis
Tamara Darbin
Tamara Kaye Hooper
Tamara Totoro Dick
Tami Kelley
Tammi Perkins
Tammi Woodward
Tammie Jarnagan
Tammy Chism Madley
Tammy Flowers Mejdrich
Tammy Gossett
Tammy Hess
Tammy O’Brine
Tammy Schneider
Tammy Walker
Tammy Walston
Tammy Warren Tearoe
Tammy Watchel
Tammy Watson
Tammy Wenzinger
Tamra Jennings
Tana Lightbown Hendricks
Tania Baldock
Tanya Higgins
Tanya Hutchinson
Tanza Bauer
Tara Dominy Bonner
Tara Guzman
Tara Hansen
Tara Lawrence
Tara Nicole
Tara Seely
Tara Soughers
Tari Card
Tasha Moreno
Tenley Dyck
Teresa Comby Childers
Teresa Driskell
Teresa Martenson
Teresa Medlin Poston
Teresa Parker
Teresa Perkins
Teressa L’Heureux
Teri Bates
Teri Henderson
Teri Stueland Kay
Teriki Barnes
Terri Cook
Terri Gervasi
Terri Nolt
Terri Schempf
Terri Smith
Terri White
Terry Hall Sanchez
Terry Moran
Theresa Cooper
Theresa Moore Martinez
Theresa Tasker
Theresa Young
Tiffani Juarez
Tiffany Bond
Tiffany Christie
Tiffany Conchinha
Tiffany Powell
Tiffany Varney
Tina Fiechtner
Tina Flanagan
Tina Marie
Tina Pawlick
Tina Peck Rumbley
Tina Reeves
Tina Skelton
Tina Thomas
Tina Wesley
Tisha Shuffield
Tona Wiegel
Tonda Campbell Hoyt
Toni Ann Bradley
Toni Black Sanchez
Toni Dyer
Tonia King
Tori Beyer
Torri Winright
Tracey Britt
Tracey DeRosa
Tracey Gombold Bell
Tracey Jo Pryor
Tracey Reams
Tracie Mickey Loux
Tracie Sells
Tracy Decker Chappell
Tracy Edmondson
Tracy Jepson
Tracy Kane
Tracy Stittleburg
Tracy Trotter Nagy
Tracy Williams Matos
Tricia Baumann
Tricia Kaufman-Waddell
Tricia Rogan Alberts Bollmann
Tricia Willard
Trinity McCoy
Trish Ives
Trisha Brumfield
Troyce Maner
Valencia Greene Foster
Valerie Amoling Cronin
Valerie Boothe
Valerie Glines Messina
Valerie Pogue
Vanessa Ford
Vanessa Goosen
Vanessa Horton-Hendershot
Vanessa Leigh White Fernandes
Vanessa Melchiori
Vanessa Wright
Vicki Delong Tacoma
Vicki Evans Sevey
Vicki Kemp Whorton
Vicki Kluzek
Vicki Luna
Vicki March Belsterling
Vicki Westphal
Vicki Wimmer Johnson
Vicky Barnes
Vicky Snow Decker
Victoria Larson
Victoria Nelson
Vida Gorbell
Viki Fratelli
Vlada Knowlton
Waleah Norton
Wendie S Dillehay
Wendy Avery
Wendy Brown
Wendy French
Wendy Hanks
Wendy Harley
Wendy Koster
Wendy Lea
Wendy Margaret Jennings
Wendy McRoberts
Wendy O’Rourke
Wendy Swanson
Wendy Vinson Nelson
Wendy Wiley Canedy
Whitney Straub
Whitney Treloar
Whitney Webb
Yvette Griego
Yvonne Frith
Yvonne LoPresto
Yvonne Matthews
Zaneta Salde Encarnacion
Zenia Robertson
Zoila Bonilla-Paul
Zora Oh

Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 5,000 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and sometimes difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot. brag on their kids, encourage and inspire one another. 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 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 for more info.

Mama Bear Story Project #42 – Felicia Dodd


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




Texas Conservatives are saying those in favor of LGBTQ Equality want to “ban the Bible” in the state of Texas. Mama Bear Felicia Dodd is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms who lives in Texas. Felicia is speaking up and and making it clear that LGBTQ advocates aren’t asking anyone to ban the Bible, instead, we are asking Christians to go “back to the Bible” and take a closer look at what the Bible actually says …

BACK TO THE BIBLE by Felicia Dodd

My name is Felicia Dodd, and I am the mother of 4 children. I have a son and daughter, as well as twin sons, one of which is gay. A little information about me and my story is that I am a Christian, I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, and I try my best to follow Jesus.

A few days ago I told my oldest son that I was going to be speaking today and was trying to write out a draft of what I would say. At dinner that night he shared with his wife that I was trying to write this speech, and his 7 year old daughter, my granddaughter Gabrielle, overheard the conversation and asked what the speech was about. He told her it was about making sure people are treated the same. She looked at him and said, “I thought Martin Luther King Jr already took care of that!” Oh how I wish that were true.

My story is that when I realized my son might be gay, I began to pray nightly, begging God to please not let my child be gay. I did this not because I didn’t think I could love him if he was gay. You see, I had a gay brother whom I loved deeply. The fact that my brother was gay made no difference to me whatsoever, because I knew his heart and knew what a beautiful loving person he was. Unfortunately he lived a closeted life, because he lived in a time when gay people were harassed, oppressed, and, like what is still happening today in some churches, he heard the message that he was an abomination and was separated from God. Consequently he committed suicide when he was 35 years old. This was a senseless waste of a precious life and it was a huge loss to me, my family and the world, of a gifted and precious human being. I prayed that my son would not be gay because I did not want him to suffer the discrimination and heartbreak my brother suffered. As time went by and those prayers were not answered, I began to immerse myself in the Bible and in research of the Biblical verses that are used to condemn LGBTQ people. I bought and read dozens of books on this subject written by learned Biblical scholars. I soon realized that the traditional interpretation of these verses which had been handed down to me, by the church I was raised in, were actually not all there was to the story. I realized we all need to look closely and more accurately at the Hebrew and Greek words and their translations, and we need to look at the context and intent of the text. My research made me comfortable and at peace with what I had always truly deep down believed which is that we are all God’s children and that we are all made in God’s image. Because I knew my son well, I knew he did not choose to be gay, and I came to know with all my heart that he was perfect just as God made him.

I don’t claim to know all the truth God is revealing to us, but I know he has opened my mind and heart in ways I could have never imagined. For years I had been reading the Bible, going to church regularly, and attending a weekly Bible Study, seeking to learn how to live a Christ like life. But even though I had been seeking God, and even though I once had a gay brother, it was through God’s gift of a gay child that I have been able to truly hear what God is saying to me. I no longer pray that God makes my son straight, like I had been doing when I was trying to reconcile same sex relationships with what is written in the Bible. God is revealing to me that He made my son and loves him just the way he is. God has shown me that my son doesn’t need to change anything about himself. I was the one who needed to change. It has been an amazing and emotional journey. I pray God helps me to always be humble, to seek the truth, and to have understanding and mercy for others who don’t hear what I hear the Bible saying.

And it is in that spirit that I seek a more just world for my gay son. He was raised just the same as his twin brother and his other siblings. He went to Sunday School and sang Jesus Loves Me and believed it just as his siblings did. He memorized and believed John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Unfortunately, my son, like so many LGBTQ Christians, started getting the message that this world that God loves does not include them.

There has been great harm done to the LGBTQ community in the name of God, in the name of one’s religion, in the name of ones deeply held religious beliefs. That harm is in the form of family rejection, self rejection, church rejection, and all manor of social, psychological and spiritual harm, sometimes self harm and even suicide. That harm is well documented.

It might come as a shock to Dan Patrick and anyone who would support SB 444 and SB 85 to know that there really are a lot of LGBTQ Christians. My son, as well as other LGBTQ individuals, and several same sex couples who are my friends regularly attend this beautiful First United Methodist Church which sits right next to our Capitol. The fact that I know so many Christian LGBTQ individuals leaves me bewildered when I try to understand how anyone would use “their deeply held religious beliefs” as the basis to discriminate. LGBTQ Christians do exist and they have deeply held religious beliefs too.

And none of the LGBTQ people I know want to ban or throw out the Bible. They and their allies just want people to go back to the Bible – to dig deeper and understand the culture and context of difficult scriptures and to never lose sight of the overall message of the Bible, to love your neighbor as yourself.

I was blessed to attend the Gay Christian Network Conference in Houston a couple of years ago. I witnessed hundreds of young people who came not just from all over the United States, but from all over the world. They had been raised in the church but a good many of them had been wounded and kicked out, by either their parents, their youth minister, or their pastor. Yet they came, wanting community, wanting to hear the word of God and wanting to know that they were loved by God. They desperately wanted to believe that when they too, as children, sang Jesus Loves Me, it was still true today. I saw many weeping when they did hear these words of affirmation. I was deeply moved and forever changed by these individuals who were desperately seeking God’s love. And I say the following with great conviction: I have never experienced the close presence of God like I did at that Gay Christian conference. It was definitely a thin place where the essence of God’s presence was almost tangible. My daughter who is straight, and is very affirming of her gay brother, accompanied me at this conference. We both wore Free Mom Hugs buttons. Through tears we gave lots of hugs to lots of young people who hadn’t been hugged by a mom or a sister in a long time. Because they had been rejected in the name of God.

I am proud of the young man my gay son, Connor, has grown to be. I am happy he was able to get married and to adopt a child while living in the state of New York. He is an amazing father. This might not have happened in Texas now that we have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ adopting or being foster parents. Texans should expect better.

When Connor, heard about these recent bills that are being proposed, he said, “So many people, LGBTQ, racial minorities, as well as people with physical and mental disabilities have so many extra hardships to overcome and it is so backwards that we have people in power, that our kids should be able to look up to, but instead they use their power to look down on those people and tell them they are less than.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

Like most oppressed populations, access to mental health care is crucial in regard to suicide, addiction and overall well being. They need health care and equal treatment like everyone else. This is fundamentally about HUMAN DIGNITY.  John in his Epistles, said How do you say you LOVE GOD whom you HAVE NOT SEEN, when you DON’T love THOSE WHOM you DO SEE?  You know, one day we will all stand before God, and Jesus will remind us that the ultimate sacrament of God is the HUMAN BEING that we live beside on a daily basis. You could say, it is the frightened13 year old who comes into the office of a Professional Licensed Counselor and wants help understanding his same-sex attractions. It is the same-sex couple that wants a sonogram or a wedding cake. And Jesus will say, as much as you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve DONE UNTO ME.

So what I ask of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Perry, Senator Hall, and any legislator who might be thinking of supporting SB 444 and SB 85, is to please stop and listen and find out about the plight of these wounded, dignified, exiled, diverse, oppressed, wonderful people who love Jesus despite some proclaimed Christians with deeply held religious beliefs, and despite a church, that has not always loved them.



Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 4,400 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Mama Bear Story Project #41 – Sara Cunningham


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


When I was a child, my mother called me “Goose,” I am certain now more than ever this was because of my natural ability to put my nose into other people’s business. I needed to know what was going on, if everyone was ok, and most importantly when we could all get together again. Community was everything to me then, and it certainly is my focus every day now.

My Journey to becoming an ally began with the words from my child, “Mom I’ve met someone, and I need you to be okay about it.” I didn’t take the news very well, and I said and did some things I regret even to this day.

I had to re-examine my religion as it suggested that I needed to choose between my faith and my child. I discovered, with the help of some others who came alongside me, that what I believed about LGBTQIA+ people came from a few verses in the Bible that had been misinterpreted and misunderstood. From there, my journey went from the church to the local pride parade wearing a homemade button and offering Free Mom Hugs or High Fives.

I wasn’t the first mom to show up at a Pride Parade offering love and hope and hugs, but I did create a non-profit based on that experience. After my post about being a stand-in mom at same-sex weddings went viral; what we have seen has been a movement of love and celebration for the LGBTQIA+ Community.

It has been the most amazing gift dropped in our laps as far as getting the message out to moms, dads, educators, and churches that NOW is the time to get educated, to step out of fear and ignorance and come out of their own closets to speak out on behalf of their children.

But what has been even more beautiful is the community, the connection and healing that is taking place in the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth and adults due to the thousands of compassionate, empowered people who are responding and offering support, birthday cards, words of affirmation, homemade blankets, and other simple but very important small gestures such as referring to a transgender person by their chosen name.

We also recently had a follower on Instagram post about their 11-year-old child who attempted suicide because of intense scrutiny and bullying from family and school. We noticed the post and got our group of “Mama Bears to the Rescue” their address and when the young girl came home from the hospital, she was surprised by dozens of cards, stuffed animals and blankets from Mamas all across the country. These small acts of kindness, this kind of loving presence in the life of that child and her Mama delivered a message of love and hope that was life-changing for them.

This is where we are going Beyond The Hug. We are supporting homeless youth with Free Mom Hugs Hoodies. We are helping our transgender friends fund legal fees for gender name changes, emotional and financial support after top- surgeries; we travel to small-town colleges and encourage their GSA’s. We are educating on behalf of our communities in schools and in the workplace. We are advocating on behalf of mental health awareness, ending workplace discrimination, and putting an end to once and for all the mental abuse that is conversion therapy.

So many young LGBTQIA+ people are hurting from family rejection and rigid religious beliefs. We may not be able to solve most problems – but one thing we can all do is be a loving presence in the life of LGBTQIA+ people. Anyone reading this can send a card, speak words of affirmation, get together with someone for a coffee, give a small gift, use someone’s chosen name, give a hug. These are things we can all do.

My hope is that my journey will inspire all of you to want to be a loving presence in the life of LGBTQIA+ people.

Together I believe we can change the world, so it is a kinder, safer, more loving place for all people to live.

Love wins. Hugs and high fives help too.

Sara Cunningham is a Mama Bear and the Founder, Executive Director & CEO of Free Mom Hugs. Sara has been featured on the Today Show, CNN, and viewed by millions on social media. You can follow Sara and Free Mom Hugs on Facebook and find out more about her message of love and hope by visiting the Free Mom Hugs Website

Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 4,400 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email


Mama Bear Story Project #40 – Melissa DeStefano


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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.



I had hoped that my son would wait until after high school to come out as transgender. But I realized I’d prefer a thriving son over a dead daughter.

When I gave birth to my first baby, the doctor said, “It’s a girl!” Before I even knew my child, those words helped me imagine the future.

But the future was different from what I expected.

By the time my child was in high school, he went by a boy’s name, ran on the boys’ cross-country team, received hormone therapy, underwent chest surgery and used the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms.

It was clear early on that Aidan was different. From about the age of 2, Aidan didn’t want long ponytails but short hair. He wanted to wear shorts and track pants — going shopping meant the boys’ section. He was super athletic. Aidan looked like a boy.

I thought I was raising a tomboy. I wondered whether someday my daughter would come out as a lesbian. Then, in junior high, Aidan told me, “Mom, I was born in the wrong body. I’m transgender.”

I was floored. When your child comes to you and says, The most basic things you think you know about me are false — it takes your breath away.

I Googled my mind into oblivion. I read about families that kicked children out of the house and disowned them. I read about schools that refused to use a child’s chosen name and preferred pronouns. I learned that transgender kids have a sky-high suicide rate. I was terrified. I realized that my choice might be a dead daughter or a thriving son.

Living your truth is hard — but right

I had hoped Aidan would wait until after high school to come out publicly as transgender, but after 10th grade, he told me he was going to do it on Facebook. I couldn’t stop him, and so I posted my own letter alongside his video — and people were supportive. Afterward, Aidan seemed lighter and happier.

Even so, it was not an easy path. Our family used to go to church together, and we’d jam to Christian music in the car — until one church associate told Aidan he was damned to hell. Aidan was devastated, and eventually quit the youth group. These days, he questions the existence of God. I still go to that church and feel so sad and angry that representatives of an institution I value denied my child’s sense of himself — I didn’t want that to happen in other places.

So I felt grateful for the support from Boyertown Area High School in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. By 10th grade, when Aidan started there, he had been consistently dressing in boys’ clothes for years. He told the guidance counselor he had gotten strange looks using the girls’ bathroom and needed an alternative. She offered the nurse’s bathroom.

That summer, Aidan started taking testosterone. When he returned to school in the fall, we filed for a name change so he would officially be “Aidan.” Then he had chest surgery. In Aidan’s senior year, he joined the boys’ cross-country team and, with the school’s permission, began using the boys’ restroom and locker rooms.

Finally, he felt fully validated for who he is. Aidan was coming into his own as a happy-go-lucky, popular and confident trans kid. Everyone who met him seemed to like him — he was even elected to the Homecoming Court. My fear began to fade.

But during Aidan’s senior year, a handful of other students sued the school, claiming that their privacy was violated because transgender students were using the same bathrooms and locker rooms. Adolescence can be an awkward time for anyone, but the high school has private changing areas and bathrooms so no student has to change in front of others.

I’m grateful that two courts have recognized the right of transgender students like Aidan to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. But now the other students have asked the Supreme Court to review the case. We are working with the American Civil Liberties Union to discourage the Supreme Court from taking up the case.

It might seem like this is just about a bathroom — but in fact it’s a powerful institution saying to a child, you have no right to be who you say you are. Schools form the center of kids’ social lives, and they are where kids develop a sense of themselves. Had the school excluded Aidan from the same facilities as other boys, it would have negated, instead of affirmed, his new and shining confidence and ease in the world.

He knows transgender kids who have had more experiences like that: They have been rejected by family, friends, institutions. Several have attempted suicide.

I consider myself a very lucky mom. God blessed me with two wonderful kids. My greatest hope is that the world recognizes my son, and other transgender people like him, and allows them to find their paths.





Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 4,400 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email

Mama Bear Story Project #39 – Vanessa Nichols


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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.



The Bullies Have Arrived and I’m Ready To Use My Words.

My daughter was bullied for the first time two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. But that doesn’t mean it hurts any less as a mom.

When you’re a little girl that appears to be a boy, when you don’t fit into a perfect little societal norm box in this hateful world, bullies will find you.

She was on a play date in a different neighborhood. Her and her friends went to the community’s playground and met two boys around the ages of 10-12.

All started out well and fine, they all played together, until they didn’t.

The two boys began picking on my daughter, before even knowing she was a girl, making fun of her clothes, her shoes, her hair. When she corrected one of them for calling her an “ugly boy”, telling them she was a girl, they then called her a “tranny”, a freak, a fag, and gay. None of such terms were even understood by my child. Because she’s 8 and ignorant to such slurs and hatred.

She handled it well enough. She talked it out with me when I picked her up. She asked a lot of questions about the words they used and just seemed overall confused, but not overly sad.

She is the type to stuff emotions a little bit so I’m not sure the validity to her dismissive attitude but I was proud of her strength. We keep open communication about the incident and I made sure to tell her that these boys were just mean because they didn’t understand her and that they must have felt bad and ugly inside to do that to someone else, to which she responded well.

As for me? I didn’t handle it quite as gracefully.

I was so sad. I am so sad.

This is a tough pill to swallow for a parent. This bullying epidemic is some scary shit, especially when you bring the notion of social media into the conversation. It’s fucking terrifying.

I analyzed the incident for days. And by analyzed , I mean obsessed over it. And by obsessed over it, I mean I lost sleep, I cried and I thought about running away with my child somewhere it feels safer than this. Anywhere that posed promise for more open mindedness.

Because I know this won’t be the last bullying incident. I knew this was coming and it was the day I dreaded for years.

When my daughter’s gender identity adventures began at a very young age, of course I was hoping it was a phase. Of course I was.

Who would want their child to have a more difficult life? Who would want their child to be different, to stand out, to struggle? No one. Absolutely not one parent on the face of the earth.

But alas, she continued to express herself in the same patterns: “boy” toys, “boy” clothes, “boy” haircut, all with a bit of a masculine nuance to her mannerisms since age 4.

I’ve never labeled her transgender, as I’ve written and talked about publicly. Let me be clear here and interject- I would label her transgender, and let her socially transition, if she asserted herself that way, if she affirmed that in her heart she feels like a boy, if she ever went into depression or anxiety over it, or if she attempted suicide over it as many young children do when they’re trans. Because I now knowthat being trans a science based fact, because I’ve done my research, because I know families that have had a suicidal 7 year old because their brain doesn’t match their genitalia.

But thus far, that hasn’t been the case. We keep an open dialogue and yes, she sees someone that specializes in gender issues. Because it’s confusing as fuck, for her and more so for me. This is not a made up thing.

So, for now, she’s a girl with a very feminine name who looks like a boy and confuses so many strangers.

Which is where the bullies will continue to dive in. Because they’re afraid. Because whether you’re a child, a teen, a young adult, or full grown, fear breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds terrible behavior, as we have all been privileged to witnessing.

People are afraid of things and issues and other people that they don’t understand. They’re afraid and they react out of that fear. And the bullies aren’t taught to filter that out by their parents. Ignorance is perpetuated in their homes, it’s learned behavior. And that behavior translates into hatefulness. Just look around social media. Adults are the absolute worst offenders.

People ask me all of the time. “why do you write about this? Why do you put this information out to the universe to get scrutinized?”.

And all of this analysis of this first bullying incident solidified my answer- to preach the word of kindness. To maybe, just maybe, educate one person on what it is that makes my child different. To advocate for all differences.

I posted a little blurb about this incident on my personal Facebook page, trying to spread a message of kindness and teaching children to not say anything if they don’t have anything nice to say.

I received a private message from a person I knew from high school who stated that I set my child up for this bullying, that this is my fault, because I “let her dress like a boy”. To which I replied, I simply will not shove my child’s wants and needs aside, force her into a box, for the comfort of everyone else. No way. That would certainly make it better for everyone else wouldn’t it? But that is not allowing my child room to be who she is. That is not setting her up on a solid foundation.

She is who she is.

And that’s why I write.

For her.

To create a better world for her the only way I know how.

And to those that believe writing about this topic is over exposing her- that’s a fair concern but listen, she will grow up knowing her mother is a fighter for equality. And I hope that makes her proud. I will absolutely stop writing about this the moment she asks me to.

But in the meantime, I will fight for a better place for her to exist just how she is. Her authentic self. I will use my writing as a super power of education and plea for kindness.

And hope for a day where acceptance is commonplace and bullies have no place in the world.

A mama can hope. A mama will fight.

Vanessa Nichols is a single mom of one amazing redhead, living in southwest Florida. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, BLUNTMoms, Elephant Journal, and BonBon Break. She’s a lover of yoga, a sun worshiper, a traveler, and a dreamer. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook and read more on her blog.

Serendipitydodah for Moms 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 4,400 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email