When our kids are little, we don’t know whether they will ultimately be gay, straight, or other. So how do we raise kids to feel loved and accepted no matter what their sexual orientation is? How do we raise confident, secure, emotionally healthy LGBTQ kids or LGBTQ allies? To get the answers, I talk to Chris Tompkins, author of Raising LGBTQ Allies.
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Chris Tompkins is a teacher, speaker, and life coach. Chris is also author of the book, Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent’s Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground.
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Transcript of this episode:
*This is an auto-generated transcript*
 Raising LGBTQ Allies – Chris Tompkins
[00:00:00] Hunter: As the mom of a, like within the last year I found out my daughter is gay. So it was a really interesting time for me. I was excited to see your book raising LGBTQ allies, and I. I was wondering first, I wanted to just ask you about the impetus. what made you want to
[00:00:26] Chris Tompkins: write this book? yeah.
A lot of reasons. I think, I’ve heard before that each of us, we all have a book inside of us. And so I feel like this was percolating in me for a very long time. And,what really was the kind of the final answer to the book was I was at home, visiting my family. I live in California.
My family was in Arizona and I was there ironically giving a workshop at the Arizona quality and justice conference, which is an LGBTQ related. And I went home after the conference was over and my mom had a, it was a big family function at my house. And a lot of my family was over there. I have a large family and my nephew, like all kids do, he was running around playing and he just had the thought.
Ran over up to me. And I was sitting next to a childhood friend of mine, who’s
female. And he ran up to me and whispered and his version of whispering. And he was eight at the time, was out, was talking out loud. And so he whispered slash talked out, spoke out loud, uncle Chris, is she your girlfriend?
And then I just, it was like one of those moments in time where everything slows down and I just, I was kinda caught off guard by his question. I w I was Surprised by everyone else’s reaction. I got embarrassed. Cause I, it w it was a question that completely caught me off guard.
And so then later that night, I started to think like, why did my nephew ask if I had a girlfriend? I just kinda thought he already knew I was gay. I’ve been out his entire life. And I moved to the Los Angeles to work for an LGBTQ related organization. I was in Arizona giving this con workshop at a conference.
and so then I started ask parents, the next day parents in my life, my mom, even. And my mom’s response actually was, oh, Chris, they’re not old enough to understand. And that’s what I realized oh, there are nuances. To this conversation. And so I started to ask my sister and friends of mine, who got, who had kids.
[00:02:23] Chris Tompkins: And a lot of them said, you know what? I want to talk to them. I just don’t know what to say. Or I don’t know what an age, would be a good starting point. so then that kind of propelled me on this path of diving in and research and all this information and then not. And then I ended up writing a letter to my family.
because we have a lot of young kids in our family and I realized that by them not considering. Their kids could be LGBTQ we’re perpetuating the closet, which the closet is a hotbed for shame. myself, I was in the closet, my entire childhood. And so the effects of that could be pretty harmful. So I was wanting to prevent that, before it began.
[00:03:04] Chris Tompkins: And then that letter ended up being published on the Huffington post and turned into a TEDx talk. And then the book and the rest of.
[00:03:13] Hunter: Oh, awesome. yeah, that’s yeah. And if you think you have a bunch of nieces and nephews, the chances are one of them could be gay and that they don’t even under understand that this is a possibility in life.
that’s a lot of ignorance there for those kids to be in where you, how were you raised? Were you. Raising a family that was, conservative or I don’t know. How would you gauge that for, knowing obviously times were different, but yeah. I don’t even know that it’s ignorance.
[00:03:42] Chris Tompkins: I think that it could be ignorance. I think that there are a lot of families who. They want to support their kids and they want to do the best job that they can. And they just don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s
[00:03:54] Hunter: really no. I meant the kids were ignorant of you because they weren’t informed. I didn’t mean to I wasn’t trying to insult your relative.
yeah. Yeah. And I think, one of the things that I hope to do is to really help people understand kind of their blind spots, when it comes to. Parenting and, teaching, I’ve been a teacher teaching, social, emotional learning for six years and, it’s like we have to write, we really explore our own blind spots or biases so that we can show up for kids and not make assumptions.
but we don’t know. We live in a, one of the things too with my book is I really talk about or normativity and it’s like a fish swimming in water, a fish doesn’t know that it’s in water. And so really not even realizing that, oh my gosh. Like I have to have these proactive conversations and really be curious about who my, my, my kid is.
so that I don’t just assume something based on these unconscious heteronormative.
[00:04:51] Hunter: Yeah. and that’s, it can be like a hard ass, it’s it’s, if you’re in the water, you’re just assume, we, if you were raised in a heteronormative culture and you don’t know anyone, you may not know anyone who’s gay, you may not know anyone who’s trans and then to people don’t make that people don’t.
Question that about kids. Could they be gay or not? they, they don’t assume that, it’s interesting. my, I, for me, like this was like, I thought about that when my kids were little and I remember telling them, yeah, Men can marry men and women can marry women. And I remember two daughters are three months, three years apart.
My youngest daughter said, oh, can I marry Maggie? Then I was like, oh, that’s so sweet, but no, you can’t. And, but it was interesting. So I felt like I was like, really, Like I had explored some of these questions you’re asking people to explore. And then, and then as our, as kids got older, like I realized like confronted by other people around me and other kids going through their own.
their own changes and explorations and et cetera that, I could see oh, like I, I have an issue with this. isn’t that interesting? What’s going on here? It’s really, I think it, I think the sort of explosion in how the world has changed so much has changed things a lot, but then it’s also like making us look.
[00:06:16] Hunter: And a lot of ways like, oh, what are the biases we hold? yeah. Yeah. I love that X exact example and kind of explanation is, one of the analogies that I love giving when I teach classes with, the young people I work with. I always say, okay, what if your parents ask you to clean your room?
[00:06:32] Chris Tompkins: And there, you had company coming over and a half an hours. They told you to re you know, go in and clean your room. And so you run in your room and you start to pick up the clothes and dust off the shelves and, pick up your room and it’s getting closer to the time and your rooms clean.
and then you look under the bed and you realize, oh my gosh, underneath my bed is all the dirty clothes and leftover stuff. my, my niece herself, she, put stuff on her bed. I’m like, what are you doing? and then your parents come in the room and they look, oh my gosh, your room is clean.
[00:06:59] Chris Tompkins: You cleaned your room. But you know that underneath the bed is still dirty. So can you technically say your room is clean and it’s this invitation. For me what I feel like is going on societaly is when we get to clean under our bed. And that’s the exploration of our biases and our assumptions that we make as we are looking underneath our bed, when we do that and really getting in there and clean, cleaning them out.
[00:07:27] Hunter: Yeah. I think that’s important, but it’s interesting because I guess before we look into that, the. Thinking about thinking. It’s interesting. Cause we think about like how things have changed so enormously. And like we can think about,it’s normal, it’s, LGBTQ lifestyle is normalized now yet in a lot of ways, or LGBTQ B, what are I probably am going to use lots of the wrong words, Chris, you could just have to help me out here. That’s one of the fears people have about talking about these things, right? Is that we’re going to say the wrong words, but like that things have changed so enormously, but there’s also been this backlash, right?
It seems like there’s been this huge backlash. Florida, the whole don’t see gay bill. all the anti-trans gender laws and things like that, maybe you could just give us before we keep going. what are some of the challenges right now that LGBTQ people have to deal with? What are the issues contending with?
[00:08:21] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. Yeah. and I appreciate you saying too that people, and that’s one of the things I talk about in my book is that, parents, sometimes they don’t want. Say something because they fear what to say. They fear getting it wrong. and it’s really important to be mindful. And one of the chapters in my book, I really talk about how words matter.
And when we use words over and over to describe certain communities, that’s where these subconscious biases get rooted. And then that’s the worldview that we perceive people in. And that’s what creates the. And so when it comes to kids, my, one of my hopes with my book is. I really sent her children’s experiences.
And my hope is to really get on their level and what it’s like being an LGBTQ kid in a classroom, in a family, in a community and their kids are like sponges. They pick up everything. They’re constantly looking for affirmation. They’re constantly looking for, to know that they’re there. Okay. And, they fit
[00:09:24] Hunter: in the tribe, right?
that’s an incredibly important human drive is to be accepted into the tribe because otherwise evolutionarily, that would mean death.
And whereas like lifestyle words, like issues to describe LGBTQ. The LGBTQ community, what issues and constantly there’s, that’s one of the things I tackle in the first chapter of my book is the DSM five, which is the mental health kind of how you’re described with mental illness diagnosed with a mental health condition.
[00:09:53] Chris Tompkins: And, just the history of sexuality, homosexuality being considered a,a mental health disorder. And also connected to gender dysphoria, which is another diagnosable condition that is convoluted with, folks who are non-binary gender nonconforming, gender diverse.
[00:10:11] Hunter: What is gender dysphoria for the listener who doesn’t know what that means?
[00:10:15] Chris Tompkins: So gender dysphoria would be a diagnosable. Correct. You would need to meet criteria and you have specific things that you feel not connected to your body and you’re suffering mental health conditions as a result. So higher rates of anxiety, higher rates of depression. it’s a, it’s an effect on your mental wellbeing and daily
[00:10:40] Hunter: functioning.
So that might occur. Someone were like a trans man in a female body. They might feel that those, that would be something that might occur in that circumstance.
[00:10:55] Chris Tompkins: Yes. Yeah. And not every person who is transgender, for example. Yes. has or experiences, gender diverse, gender dysphoria. So it’s not something that all trans people have gender dysphoria.
but using. In the DSM-V could be considered problematic because it’s something that. So it says it’s a pathology. Yes. It’s pathologized. Exactly. So that’s my hope with really having these conversations is to be able to unpack and explore because that’s connected to the cultural experiences that we’re seeing, especially right now with the increased rates of, the laws that are popping up across the country and the LGBTQ legislation.
[00:11:39] Chris Tompkins: And I really, I addressed that in my book about, when you have cultural dynamics, this happens throughout history is if you explore just societies, the way that we kind of progress is once you have kind of society swinging one way. Just by virtue of gravity, the pendulum swings back around.
And so we make momentum and progress, and then it’s like cleaning up our room. We have to go back through and do one mat, one more pass to get in there and get out the deeper layers of stuff. And I feel like that’s what we’re seeing is there’s been a lot of progress.
And then naturally just by virtue of cultural dynamics, you’re going to see the push.
[00:12:21] Hunter: Okay. All right, cool. but, okay. So not issues, but challenges. And I’m curious about the challenges that LGBTQ Q folks are experiencing now, because for instance, my daughter, who’s 15. She. lives in a very accepting family in a really pretty like liberal accepting community.
Like extremely, I would say Raleigh for where we live at liberal accepting community. So she’s she’s I, as far as I can tell, as this goes, she seems totally fine with everything, but I know that they’re not the same case for everybody. And I know that there are challenges that come along with.
With being LGBTQ that are not happening for people who are for kids or that are heteronormative. So maybe you could just share some of those, because I think it’s important for parents to understand that when we. Maybe don’t talk about these things with our kids, or we don’t think my child could be gay or my child could be trans, like my little kid, could later grow up to be, discover, realize that they are gay or trans.
they, we don’t realize that there are some real serious repercussions and challenges that kids are.
[00:13:35] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think I appreciate that question because I think it’s really important and. LGBTQ youth have increased rates of substance use, suicidality, depression, anxiety, and one of going back back to the original question is the impetus of the book is that, I worked at a very large nightclub here in Los Angeles and it happens to be a gay bar.
It’s very well known. If you come to LA, most people know, this place. And I worked there for 11 years and I really saw the effects of. trauma, unhealed trauma, the effects of what it’s like growing up in the closet. I mentioned shame, even if a child comes out at a young age, there’s still a time period that they were in the closet and the closet can serve for safety.
If the family is not supportive. So there, there are, there can be some benefits of the closet. What I really want to help people understand is that it’s also really a place where. Constantly you’re feeling like something’s wrong with you. That you’re, you have to hide who you are. And that’s like scar tissue that develops this kind of thick, like layers that can feel oppressive.
And so increased rates of substance use, internalized homophobia, internalized transphobia. one of the things, my, the subtitle of my book is a parent’s guide to changing the messages from the playground and the messages from the playground. That’s a through line that I use throughout the book to describe a metaphor that the messages are our subconscious before.
And the playground is our mind or our collective consciousness. I’m in graduate school right now, finishing up my master’s in clinical psychology and I work at a training site. All my clients are LGBTQ and I, the youngest client I have is 20. The oldest client I have is 63. And one of the things I assess for mint as a mental health clinician is the degree of internalized homophobia, because how that manifests is.
Problems with relationships, low self esteem. when I’m looking at anxiety or depression or mental health conditions, I’m looking at it through an LGBTQ affirmative lens. And so a lot of that is rooted in. It’s not just anxiety, it’s not just depression. It’s anxiety rooted in heteronormativity. it’s depression
[00:15:55] Hunter: accepted.
[00:15:56] Chris Tompkins: Exactly. And that adds up enormously and that adds up enormously. And so then you start to have an adults, one of the things I, I think is really just to give you anecdotally what that looks like, because we’re having, children, they grow up and become adults.
And if a lot of this stuff is. normalized or talked about or accepted, then that manifests as an attack on the self. And so when we get into intimate partner relationships, then if that’s unhealed, then we can project that onto our partners. So the parts that we don’t like in ourselves will project that onto our partner.
And so one of the things that I think is really important, is that intimate partner by. And non LGBTQ relationships and intimate partner violence and LGBTQ relationships, pretty much are at the same rates, LGBT intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community. The difference is intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community always occurs in the context of anti LGBTQ.
What does that mean? That means internalized homophobia. So basically the societal oppression is interjected into the person and then that’s manifesting as an attack on the self and talk on, on, on a partner.
[00:17:13] Hunter: Okay. If you have tiny children right now, and you’re not thinking anything about these things, this is let what Chris is saying to you.
Be a wake up call because you want your child to be healthy, mentally healthy, emotionally healthy, grounded. We know. Mental and emotional health is what we’ll let our child do all the things they want to do in the world and have that confidence in themselves to be able to go out in the world and be who they want to be, that grounding of acceptance from us.
And if they. I just wanted to pull this out of Chris, right? what we need. I think some of us to be scared, a little to say look, this can happen. If we don’t lay this foundation of acceptance, we can have a lot, we can lay a lot of challenges at the feet of our children. And you may think, oh, This is a fraud issue.
My child is too young. I don’t want to not talking about it. But there’s issues with not talking about it too. can you talk about that a little bit, Chris?
yeah, absolutely. one of the chapters of my book, I it’s called benign neglect and how not communicating something. That’s still communicating and that’s turning a blind eye.
[00:18:31] Chris Tompkins: And children are so intuitive. They’re so they’re like sponges, they absorb everything. One of the title of my TEDx talk is called what children learn from the things we don’t say. And so the conversations that parents don’t have, I grew up in a, the family disease of addiction, is, I have a lot of family members who have had addiction and, as a kid growing up.
I knew what was going on in my family, but no one was talking about it and I observed things. I picked up things. I was very, hyper aware. and so what I interpreted is oh, we don’t talk about these things. These are bad. This is shameful. And so the messages that I got were the things that we don’t talk about.
Are that, or they’re wrong or they’re uncomfortable. And so then my hope is, one of the things that I think the most difficult chapter I wrote was chapter nine in my book, because I really addressed some of the big reasons why people don’t want to talk about these subjects with kids is that we think we’re talking about sex or sexuality.
And so what I invite readers to consider is that. We’re putting our adult constructs of sex and sexuality onto kids. And that’s not what this is about at all. This is about talking about a child’s normal, natural development. They’re developing their gender. They’re developing their sexuality right now.
I recently watched for the first time, the movie it’s a wonderful.
I’ve never seen it. I know it sounds so
[00:20:00] Chris Tompkins: weird. No, I literally just stopped for the first time. I just thought for the first time last week, it’s like a classic movie, a lunch, or a lot of your listeners have watched it, but there’s a scene that’s so sweet and innocent in the very beginning of the movie where the young boy is working at, I think it’s like a shop or a candy he’s at the.
Like a counter, with ice cream. And there’s a little girl who’s waiting for him and they’re probably like, I don’t know, eight years old and she’s waiting at the counter and he comes to work and it’s clearly like she has a crush on him and another girl enters the store and you see the leather girl at the counter looking at the other girl and she’s jealous.
And the little boy, part of the storyline is that he can’t hear out of one of his. So he’s getting her ice cream ready and she whispers in his ear. I’m going to love you forever. And it’s just this sweet kind of theme. And I’m watching that. I’m thinking that’s an example of heteronormativity where we just That is just accepted and seen as sweet and innocent and crushes. we all have a crush. I watched a video last night where the guy was asking people in the audience, w when did, when was your first crush, who was your first crush? And everyone in the audience went around and said who their first crush was.
They could remember it when they were little. Oh yeah.
[00:21:17] Hunter: Yeah. I held hands with John Jenna meta at nap time in kindergarten,
[00:21:25] Chris Tompkins: and one of the. I said that too, oh, I was in kindergarten and that’s my whole, that’s what I, my, I desire my hope is that we can have that same kind of like joy, like right now, your face, your, the joy that you had in expressing that crush, that same kind of innocent joy for a kid who’s LGBTQ as well.
[00:21:47] Hunter: Yeah. I, yeah, I would hope we could have that. I don’t know if we’re there yet, because I think we all have too much internalized homophobia in us, like at this point, when I was growing up, we definitely gay was like the most common insult on the playground for, and through high school, it wasn’t even questioned.
Yeah. At all, like that was not that long ago. I graduated in 1996. It wasn’t like hugely is. And to go from that, to your vision in such a short amount of time, I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but I like the vision,
[00:22:24] Chris Tompkins: I think, I think it’s, I think We ha we have to have hope. We have to have hope.
That’s one of the quotes that I use in my book from Harvey milk and, we have to give them hope and that’s the idea is that I think with anything that. that we care about whether it’s anti-racist work, whether it’s, the war that’s going on, like all of these things, we have to have hope and, that’s my hope is that if I can do this work within my own life, one of the things that I really believe strongly is that we can only take others as far as we’ve gone ourselves.
And so as a teacher, as a parent, as an uncle, as a family member, The work that I do in my life is going to impact the next generation and that’s what this is. This is really doing the work for the next generation.
[00:23:09] Hunter: I think this is fascinating. And of course, dear listener is all ties back into mindfulness and awareness.
Self-awareness like we can do zero to change. What we’re not aware of. And part of self-awareness is like rock on for you. You’re listening to this right now, developing your self-awareness. And maybe there are some things coming up for you. Maybe there’s some discomfort and that’s okay. We can examine that and look at that and let it be our teacher.
We don’t want to not talk. That’s not good. What? This was a question. So I told you, like I said to my mindful mama mentor team, all right, Chris is coming on the podcast. You’ll have little kids. I’ve got teens. What are the questions that we have? And one of the big questions, and I’m sure you get it constantly is at what age should parents be kin to have conversations about.
[00:24:05] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. yeah. You know what I invite parents and caregivers and the people I speak to is, this isn’t a one size fits all conversation and it’s not a one-time conversation. It’s ongoing and it’s my. Invitation to people is to be curious and to listen and to ask questions.
And my niece, as an example, she so really quick to address, like at what age, I think that if a child is old enough to ask questions, That’s a pretty good indication that they’re able to take in information at age appropriate levels. and start to be curious with them and talk to them and ask them, lot of times, I’ll talk to my nieces and nephews about stuff.
Okay. Then I’ll mention it to my sister. I’ll mention it to my mom and they’ll say they did, but they didn’t tell me that. and I feel like it’s because I have a genuine curiosity, and an interest in, and not that their parents don’t, but I feel like the energy that we bring. To a conversation with, with a young person is felt, and my niece, recently she’s nine years old and she, a few weeks ago we did a FaceTime and she was telling me about a gender reveal party that she went to.
[00:25:20] Hunter: Good. What do you think of those? I is like a weird it’s developed after I had my kids as a phenomenon. It’s so interesting.
[00:25:27] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. Yeah. And so I was curious to hear from her. Understood as far as what a gender reveal party was. And what was curious to me is that it was almost like she was. Just regurgitating information that clearly these weren’t necessarily her ideas.
They were, it was what was told to her about what a gender reveal party was. And so I started to ask her, what about, Boys who liked pink. and, one of the things that, I’m sure your readers will, or listeners and readers will understand is that, children, when they’re very young, they have a very rigid and fixed way of thinking.
That’s just, yeah.
[00:26:05] Hunter: Stage five, I think is peak rigidity. Yeah.
[00:26:09] Chris Tompkins: That’s that’s just how the brain develops. That’s childhood development. I was able to really talk to her and be curious about. The conversation and challenge her for the colors of only boys like blue and only girls like pink and she resisted because of just that kind of more fixed way of thinking.
But that seed planting to me, this is answering the question is that we get to have ongoing conversations. And so then a few weeks later we did another base time and she showed up and she had a blue shirt. And not that even that she was aware of it, but I mentioned, oh, that’s I like your shirt.
That’s a blue, you’re wearing a blue shirt. And she looked down and she remembered the conversation we had. And that was a good kind of example of oh, girls can blue as well. So it’s Introducing the conversation at the age that they’re starting to tell you things and ask questions and then also be proactive.
And I recommend, I love getting kids, books, children, books.
[00:27:05] Hunter: Yeah. That was another question we had in my team was, books geared towards children that you find helpful. What are the. I
[00:27:11] Chris Tompkins: have chapter 10 in my book. I include all of my favorite books and they’re there by ages. what books are there?
I definitely recommend books. I think they’re so helpful to be able to, that’s just a really great bonding time that you get to be with a young person and flip through and read books. I stopped giving my nieces and nephews presents and I would get them. I would give it.
[00:27:33] Hunter: Yeah. I’ll just going to share a couple of examples. That’s helpful for the listener. Chris has books ages two and up, he just three enough for enough. read a Kranz story. Love makes a family. I am jazz or in the foreign uplifts Jacob’s new dress. Who has what I love, who has what I recommend, who has what all the time, because it is a great book, for three and up for kids asking questions about their bodies.
it’s such a great book. and, and other ones,yeah, so there are lots of them then that’s a great, I find that’s a great, because if you don’t have, maybe you don’t have any gay people in your life,that you know of, and maybe you live in a community that’s, not so friendly to LGBTQ people.
[00:28:17] Hunter: Yeah, bring some books into your house. And that is a speaker that talks to that opens the door for conversations even when you’re not there. and the whole pink and blue thing is so interesting. I was like, I it’s fascinating because in the Victorian yeah. Pink was the color for little boys. It actually indicated a little boys and light blue is a color for little girls and it switched and little boys wear dresses for a long time.
Probably a lot easier to like P if you’re a little boy. Just a stress on, you’re just going to lift it up. I imagine that’s probably all practicality, but
[00:28:58] Chris Tompkins: we live in Scotland. yeah. The kilts. okay, so what age should we begin to have these conversations when they’re asking the questions?
[00:29:07] Hunter: Or can we, and I think that you’re right. I personally believe in like transparency for kids. let’s teach them about the world that we live in. Like when they ask questions, answer those questions a way that is comfortable, is age appropriate for them. And we don’t have to, we don’t have to answer a question with all the information we can.
piece of the information and then see if they have any more questions, maybe just, oh, those two men are holding hands. Maybe they’re married and that’s all you need to say. And if they have any more questions, you answer some more questions. Would that be yeah,
[00:29:43] Chris Tompkins: he’s saying, yeah, I think that’s a great idea.
And I think that, again, going back to heteronormativity and just the, just the constant, we take in. Hundreds of thousands of data, of information just through, being navigating through the world, we’re taking it and taking it in information. and if I’d say, if the majority of that is heteronormative than just subconsciously, kids are getting information, picking up information.
And so I remember. I’m sure you win for your book. you really have to take into mind the reader, like who is this reader? Who am I writing this book for? And I literally went through and had in mind the specific people in my life who I had conversations with. I remember, a good friend of my family friend.
her sister is a lesbian and she didn’t realize, and she’s, she loves her sister and is very accepting and she didn’t realize that whenever her sister would come over. Her kids were I think four and six at the time. And she would refer to her sister’s girlfriend as her sister’s friend. And she didn’t even realize that she was doing that.
[00:30:46] Chris Tompkins: And then when she did tell her girls that her sister was. lesbian was with, it was her partner. The little girl’s response was, Ooh, mommy, girls can’t kiss girls. and so that kind of was her realization of oh my gosh, like I have to take these kinds of proactive steps because children are just picking up information and that’s that re rigid construct that their base they’re basing off of what their worldview of what they’re seeing and experience.
[00:31:15] Hunter: So would you recommend, when kids, I guess it’d be interesting to bring a child development specialist into this, right? cause like when kids are super rigid, particularly about gender roles, like around age five. Cause I remember finding that really interesting because I really chafed against as a feminist, like the ideas that girls should just be this way and boys should just be this way.
I wasn’t necessarily like looking at it from like an LGBT Q standpoint, but I had my girls. Clothes from the boys section at times. and, I didn’t, I tried to keep the minute the pink, that flowed into our house to a minimum. But, would you, I wonder if, is it a good idea those times?
When kids are highly rigid to push back and ask them some questions about whether they think some of those things are true about these, the sort of rigid stereotypes they are developing just through their own development. Yeah.
[00:32:13] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. I th I think so. I do. And I think that helps, that creates for me that’s information gathering.
Cause I’m healthy. I’m getting a glimpse into their world. and it’s not that I’m telling them to, to think a certain way. It’s that I’m challenging how they’re thinking. I’m being curious, not what they think, but how they think, like, how are they coming up with these ideas? recently I was in class and the professor asked everyone, what is the percentage of our brain?
And the majority of the class said that humans use 10% of our brains.
[00:32:47] Hunter: Which is not true,
[00:32:48] Chris Tompkins: which is not true. It’s not true. It’s not true. And he gave a whole,he’s a neuroscience and he gave a whole thing about how, where that myth came from. It was from 18, I think, 1895 from a French,researcher put out a journal article and it’s still in our.
Conversations today that people believe that we only use 10% of our rain. I used that and a go to lead just to connect it to these kind of unconscious beliefs that we all have, that we get to what, where did you get that from? How, like, how did you come to think about it that way?
[00:33:28] Hunter: All right. I think that’s a, yeah, I think that is so important. It’s interesting. I, it’s an interesting time, because also I think that, as a parent of adolescents and I, there’s like a lot of adolescent kids in my community, which I said is like super liberal and artsy and things like that.
It’s this intentional community. we’ve got, we’re like a whole bunch of old hippies started anyway. Because kids also I’m noticing now are like,gender and sexuality is a place where they’re really open and curious and experimenting. And I think that scares a lot of parents. honestly, I it’s interesting.
Cause I guess we don’t know I think the, obviously from the. The legislation that’s being introduced in a lot of different parts of the country. The idea of having a trans kids scares probably a lot of parents, and they’re worried about their kids being influenced by the larger culture to question things and then take some steps that may.
they’re scared that their kids would take some steps to, that could harm them or re you know, harm their reproductive capacity. Then they don’t want to,they don’t want to call their, have their kid reject the name they were given, and re you know, the whole idea. I personally think that the idea of calling it like a dead name is so extreme.
can we call it a former name? Like these pair? I see it from the point of view of the parents who were like had X number of years with this child. And then they’re saying the name is dead, but w it’s I’m curious about that piece, like where we’re in this transitionary phase and how parents can walk the middle path.
[00:35:03] Hunter: Is there a middle path from between being, like between the eye of being non accepting and being, maybe being supportive. Changes that their child may regret, right? is there like a middle path between that? What, how do you see this, Chris? Yeah, I
[00:35:25] Chris Tompkins: do. And I talk about that. My book, as far as, the phases of acceptance and in my experience, Like anything in life, it’s not a straight line and it’s going to be a certain way and it’s going to be perfect and tied up in a nice bow.
life kind of happens on life’s terms. And I do believe that. Kids are the future. And I believe that each generation has something to teach us. And I feel my book is very much a spiritual book and I believe on a soul level that, we each come into this life to change something and we have a purpose and I feel like the LGBTQ community.
[00:36:04] Chris Tompkins: Right now, today are teaching us how to be better people. And it’s through the process that we’re going through to be able to get there. That’s helping us be better humans if we’re open to it. I think there is a middle path. I think absolutely there is. And I think that, it’s absolutely a.
that’s part of being a parent is, you kind of project into your child. A lot of the things that, you didn’t receive as a kid growing up, or you want to help bring them something that you didn’t get and you want them to be a certain way and you have all these hopes and expectations and then they’re not that way.
and then you have to work through that, or hopefully you’re able to work through that. And
[00:36:46] Hunter: I think that even, I would say for my daughter, when she told me that she was gay, Called. It would’ve been a long day. I saw a new brand new rainbow flag over and I was like, Hey honey, are you lesbian?
I think I called it from the stairs. And she was like, yeah, I thought you knew. And I was like, huh. Anyway. But there was some processing for, I thought it was like, I was like, oh, like there’s some processing for me to do, with this, I accept her completely a hundred. 50%, at that time it was like, oh, this was a break in my expectation for, that I didn’t even realize I had, Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Cause I think that really is my, that’s really what the book is for. That’s really what this conversation is for. I go to a lot of support, need beans. I go to a lot of support groups. P flag for your listeners is a wonderful organization.
[00:37:37] Chris Tompkins: Chapters all over the country. and I go to a lot of the black parents and families. It used to stand for parents and families of lesbian and gays it’s since changed. And so it’s parents and family members of the LGBTQ community. and they do support groups. They do advocacy,wonderful organization.
And I go to support groups where parents like yourself, who are processing their child’s coming out and they want to be supportive and accepted. And my hope is down the road, that the more that we get to peel away the layers of heteronormativity and kind of these unconscious blind spots is that we won’t have to process if our child does come out because it wouldn’t have been something that
[00:38:22] Hunter: children won’t have to anyway. Yeah.
[00:38:25] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. And and even now, though, there is going back to your question about the middle path. Phases of acceptance. and ultimately the last phase is I hope that parents and caregivers can get to a place of celebration. and not from a place of, I, I talk about this in my book too, about the difference between, when you, I know my own experience with young people is that when I bring, like, when I make something too much of a big deal, like it almost it almost has an adversive, Message
[00:38:52] Hunter: to them.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like we’re trying too hard. You want it to be normalized? yeah, exactly. Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Oh, interesting. There’s probably so many things I could talk to you about with this, Chris. We have to let you go. The book is raising LGBTQ allies. So I just want to go over, we want to be having these conversations with kids, at the ages, like we want to, they’re asking questions, maybe provide some, books to just let them explore in their own time.
but I think what I’m hearing from you is. That obviously not talking or not talking about it with our kids until they’re, I don’t know, adolescents or older is giving them a message of th that not talking is a message that, that there’s something wrong or bad, that is giving them that message.
[00:39:50] Hunter: And so if you have a toddler, dear listener, and you’re listening to. And you want your toddler to feel that acceptance no matter who they are, right? No matter what their sexual gender orientation, whatever, and you want you, your intention now as they’re little is to love them for who they are and have a lifelong positive relationship with them, then.
These are the steps that we should take. We want to be allies, no matter who our kids turn out to be. That’s the message I’m getting from you. Yeah. Yeah,
[00:40:27] Chris Tompkins: absolutely. And I appreciate being here and I appreciate being able to have this conversation and I would invite your listeners to consider I’ll leave on one last thing is that, all relationships begin with curiosity.
All relationships begin with curiosity. And there is a story that I use in my book where a father was talking to his daughter and she’s a lesbian came out, later in life and they didn’t have a good relationship. And the father was making amends to her and saying, I realized that it wasn’t your job to teach me who you were.
It was my job to understand and learn who you are. and that goes back to, all relationships begin with curiosity and the relationships that we have with our kids, the people, the young people in our lives. It can begin with just that curious.
[00:41:12] Hunter: Yeah, interest curiosity. It’s the opposite on the spectrum from judgment to your listener, right?
Like mindfulness is intentionally being in the present with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. So I love that. I love, love, love that you’re ending with that, Chris. That’s a beautiful, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us to write that letter to your. Family to share your thoughts. I think it’s really powerful and it’s really needed, to approach this conversation from so many angles.
And, yeah, I appreciate you putting this work into the world.
[00:41:48] Chris Tompkins: Yeah. Thank you, hunter. I appreciate being here and thank