ARE you thinking about coming out to your parents and your family, but you're really not sure how to go about it? Maybe you’ve already had the conversation, but it didn't go as well as you'd hoped. Maybe you came out years ago, but you know your family relationships are still in need of healing.
Or maybe you're the parent of a child, whatever age, who has just come out to you as gay or transgender and you feel the world has just turned upside down. The easy communication you used to have with your child feels nonexistent, and it’s difficult to find the words to talk about anything.
"... we struggle with how to communicate with each other and the cards give us a way to get those emotions out in the open and be honest and lay everything on the table."
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Having respectful, constructive conversations can be difficult when emotions are running high.
If you are feeling confused or conflicted about coming out, or in listening to and understanding a loved one who has come out, having something to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings can provide a source of comfort as well as clarity for everyone involved.
There are many such conversations where you may find the CCS beneficial.
"... so many situations where you just can't say it, but maybe you can relate something to a picture and some word will pop out and help you."
"When my daughter came out to me, the words we used to use no longer seemed to make sense. Everything had changed."
Susan A Adams is an author, communications consultant, facilitator and CCS Corporation US distributor. She is a passionate advocate for the CCS and a long time member of PFLAG. One day at a PFLAG meeting, Susan decided to have a conversation in a different way with some of the PFLAG members, and the idea for Coming Out, Staying Close was born.
Susan was integral to the whole project, bringing together the valuable and generous interviewees who agreed to share their conversations on the videos, in a bid to help others have the hard conversations. Susan brought her skill as a communicator and facilitator, as well as her expertise in the LGBTI space as a mother and PFLAG advocate to the project, resulting in a practical and meaningful tool.
Susan is also the author of: The Marital Compatibility Test, The Family Compatibility Test, Secrets to Writing Well. She was also once the US spokesperson for Mattel, for our board game Compatiblity – and we didn’t even know!
Bringing people together, building relationships and having conversations that matter are things that Leonie cares deeply about. When Susan approached her about working on a project for people rebuilding their relationships after coming out, she was in!
Leonie researched, read, and talked to many people working in, and a part of the LGBTQ to understand the conversations that were critical to have. She worked very closely with Susan and Craig Browne, to develop the guide and videos that support people using the CCS to have the hard conversations.
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The following videos are provided as supporting material for the Coming Out, Staying Close kit. The videos let you see first hand how the CCS cards are used in genuine LGBTQ related conversations.
The amazing families you will meet have bravely and generously allowed us into their lives in the hope that their experience will help you and your loved ones with your LGBTQ conversations and journeys.
Meet Jordan, Jody and Evan, three of the people who will share their stories and journey.
Meet Susan and Aly, our facilitators for the conversations and hear them share their personal LGBTQ story and how to use the CCS vision cards in your conversations.
There are so many different ways you can ‘come out’. Every person is going to have their own story and advice from their experience. It’s often helpful to hear someone else’s story, so you can help to create the outcome you want for yours. You will hear some tips on coming out, as well as the CCS being used in conversation about coming out.
Hear some discussion using the CCS with these topics:
Sharing something about yourself can be scary and make you feel really vulnerable. The person receiving the new information about you may be feeling a whole range of emotions too. Sharing and acknowledging these feelings can help you to clarify what is really going on, and help you to understand each other a little better.
Watch conversations with these topics:
Some people are so in tune with you that they just know exactly what you need, when you need it. The reality is, this is a rare thing. Most people need to know what you want to be able to help you in the best way. For positive relationships to grow, you need to be able to be open and ask for what you need. You also need to be able to listen and hear what they need from you too.
Evan’s family share what they most need from each other during the transition
You are the same person you were before you had your coming out conversation. You may be a little more relieved, or you may feel more vulnerable, but ultimately, you are still you. It’s really comforting to have a conversation that affirms you and the relationship you have. You have a history together that can’t be erased, and you have a future together that you are starting to create in every moment. Use the opportunity to affirm each other, and your relationship.
These are the topics used for discussion:
Looking forward can be useful to remind you that there is a future ahead for both of you, and it can be bright.
‘Choose one card that represents where you would like to see your family going in the future.’
Listen to what they say about using the CCS in conversation.
Acceptance and understanding of diversity are built one conversation at a time. Research indicates that structured situations designed to promote mutual sharing of experiences and views can lead to an increase in empathy and a reduction in prejudice.
However some of these conversations can be hard. Hard to start and hard to participate in. This is particularly true when considering diversity of gender and sexual orientation — LGBTQ.
Coming Out, Staying Close can be used by organisations to make it easier for its staff to have open, honest conversations about the hard topics around coming out and LGBTQ. The toolkit can be used within workplace teams to create safe situations to raise and share views and to promote mutual disclosure. It can also be made available to individuals identifying as LGBTQ to help improve their personal situation outside of the workplace.
It is known that organisations that are seen to be strongly supportive of diversity, in this case LGBTQ, find it easier to motivate their staff members to do the same. With the Coming Out, Staying Close toolkit, organisations have both an appropriate way to show their support and provide their staff with a proven means to facilitate the vital conversations.