When you think of a superhero, you might imagine comic books played out in live-action flicks on the big screen. However, we like to celebrate the unsung-heroes like screenwriters who bring media attention to LGBT awareness, gay children, and their stories.
Even in 2019, being a gay, lesbian, or transgender child in real-life can be challenging. It takes bravery and unconditional support for a young child to embrace his or her identity and wear one's individuality like a cape. Seeing examples of parental support for LGBT children can influence everyday TV watchers to be super-parents to their own children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34% of LGBT youth are bullied on school property. While many kids suffer bullying in school, being queer can increase the risk of experiencing violence.
More than ever, these kids need allies.
Most parents over the age of 30 grew up in a time where acceptance wasn't the standard. However, seeing examples of parental acceptance of gay children can spread themes of love, support, and acceptance throughout our culture.
With Mother's Day just around the corner, let's shine the spotlight on TV and film moms who support their LGBT children and inspire acceptance with displays loving compassion.
Emily Spier in Love, Simon
Love, Simon tells the story of a gay high school teen and his journey to self-acceptance. He fears being judged by his schoolmates and his family for being gay. Even more, though, he fears the thought of never being OK with who he really is and never finding love.
In the spry yet emotional film, Simon finds comfort in knowing that there is someone else at his high school who shares his "secret." The fact that he isn’t alone in the shadows inspires his bravery for embracing his sexuality and coming out.
Emily Spier (played by Jennifer Garner) demonstrates the support her son, Simon, needs to feel comfortable in his skin.
In Simon’s coming-out moment, he asks his mom if she knew he was gay. She says to her son:
"You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time. You deserve everything you want."
In a defining moment in Simon’s life, he yearned for a sign to let him know that he’s going to be alright. His mother's support validated his decision to come out, accept himself, and embrace his sexuality.
Jeanette Jennings in I Am Jazz
The TV show I Am Jazz follows a young teen in her day-to-day life. Jazz struggles with something most other girls her age never do: she’s transgender. In a time of learning how to date boys, Jazz feels the constant pressure to explain her identity to her friends and even to her own family.
In the show’s fifth season, Jazz takes on the role of an ambassador for transgender people. As if growing up trans isn’t challenging enough, trying to bring awareness to trans acceptance on national TV is way more responsibility than even more adults venture to take on.
Jazz’s biggest supporter is her mom, Jeanette. Although the show focuses on Jazz's experiences, there are plenty of heartwarming moments where viewers see Jeanette’s pride and love for her daughter.
Early on, Jeanette tells the story of her daughter’s life as a kid and the moments that lead to her transition. She admits that allowing Jazz to dress as a girl at a young age was difficult as a parent because she worried about the bullies that Jazz would face.
But when she saw how free her daughter felt as a girl, she said:
"I knew that I was gonna do whatever it took to make her happy and I didn't care what anyone thought."
With the weight of the world on Jazz’s shoulders, having a parent who is an ambassador for her teaches her (and us!) just how to do the same for others.
Penelope Alvarez in One Day at a Time
The Netflix comedy One Day at a Time follows a charming Hispanic family through the tribulations of everyday American life. The family matriarch, Penelope Alvarez is a mother, nurse, and Army veteran with a fierce sense of humor.
As she struggles with PTSD brought on by her service, Penelope juggles raising a family, holding a job, and the wicked symptoms of mental health issues.
One of Penelope's two children, Elena, comes out as a lesbian. Among the chaos in her life, Penelope realizes she has to be there for her daughter in her coming-out moment – no matter what.
Elena comes out by confiding in her mother that she envisions falling in love with another woman one day. She asks her mom, “Are you okay with this?” Penelope responds by saying:
“Of course I am, I love you, and I want you to be happy, and you should never be afraid to tell me anything about yourself.”
If gay children felt free to share their truth with the most important people in their lives – like Elena did with Penelope – would LGBT children suffer less depression and anxiety? It's certainly conceivable.
Beth Pearson in This Is Us
The hit TV show This is Us follows relatable characters as they deal with love, loss, and everything in between. Beth Pearson, the wife and mother in the series, is emblematic of a supportive, accepting mother in her show of love when her daughter, Tess, reveals that she’s gay.
In the moment, Tess's voice trembles as her heart races and her voice quivers in fear. Yet Beth’s response to Tess sets all her worries at ease:
“We love you, no matter what, okay? Look at me. Look at your dad. Do you see anything other than two people, who love you more than any other two people can love anyone in the entire world?”
In her daughter's time of vulnerability, Beth assures her daughter that she has the support of her family. As the show progresses, there are countless Wonder Woman-esque mom moments to cherish.
On-screen & Real Life Support for Gay Children
A cry for help doesn't always come in the form of a bat signal in the sky. Gay children need the daily support of the people in their lives, especially their parents. Love looks a bit different for everyone, but being there for your children as they grow into their identity can empower them to embrace whatever love means to them.
"Raising children is easy!" said no one ever. Happy Mother's Day to the real life supermoms out there. You deserve an applause – whether you have straight, lesbian, trans, or gay children.
In honor of this special day and the mother in your life, share this article on social media – then go give your mom a big ol' hug.