• Sat. May 14th, 2022

The LGBT Center welcomes a new support group for relatives of homosexual students

ByJulie J. Helfer

Feb 17, 2022

On February 1, the Ohio University LGBT Center officially launched its new group called Significant Others, Family, Friends, and Allies, or SOFFA, which brings together loved ones of queer people to help them learn about and accept the queer identities.

For many queer people, loved ones may not accept their identity once they choose to come out, or they may simply not understand what that identity means and how to be a good supporter.

Maddie Moore, a senior social work student, recognized this problem by choosing to create this group for the LGBT Center.

“I saw a lot of parents who wanted to be supportive but also very confused about queer identities and would feel a lot of resentment for their child or just anger and confusion for their child and didn’t know where to turn” , Maddie Moore mentioned. “So I thought, what a great way to help people understand queer identity in a space of love, without judgment, without fear, and to let them feel heard – also teach them what queer identity means. different queer identities and how to support their loved ones.”

Due to the group’s centralized focus on loved ones of gay people, Micah McCarey, director of the LGBT Center, said the group is unlikely to include gay students.

“We usually keep it pretty focused on who falls into that ‘SOFFA’ acronym,” McCarey said. “It’s partly because we recognize that it can feel like an unsupportive environment when you’re working with people who haven’t yet gotten to a place where they’re either as nurturing as they need to be or as sensitive communication needs, respect for pronouns.

While the first wave of denial can be difficult, McCarey said this group helps recognize the importance of forgiveness and allows time for families and other loved ones to adjust to new identities they’ve recently learned.

“We have parents who are in this group who can say, ‘I’ve been through this before, and it’s hard, and you should give yourself some grace, and your Bobcat should give you some grace,’ McCarey said “Because it takes a while to learn new terminology or to work through the emotional hurdles of thinking you fully understand a loved one and then realizing there are things they need from you. that you need to work on.”

Joe Moore, Maddie Moore’s father, currently participates in the group. Joe Moore said the group allows for a thoughtful, non-judgmental response to a variety of reactions to someone’s coming out.

“By nature, I’m a very tolerant person,” Joe Moore said. “So when my daughter came out, I barely moved my eyes, but not everyone is like that, and that’s okay. Everyone has their levels of acceptance and non-acceptance.

For those familiar with these different levels, Joe Moore said the group can help parents and other loved ones connect with each other and use each other as role models for future progress.

“It would be a resource where you could sit down and face each other through the computer and (be like), ‘Hey, this person is like me’ or ‘Hey, I had a very similar experience to what I’ve had’, and I see where they are a year later,” Joe Moore said. “We’ll get long-term positivity from people who look to the group for advice or experience .”

With her initial idea to bring this organization to life from earlier this month, Maddie Moore hopes it will be a positive and helpful resource for queer students and their respective loved ones.

“I think we will improve the lives of so many people, not only will families feel like they have a space where they can go and talk about it, but it will also help the children, because then they’ll have a more supportive family. and better allies in their lives,” Maddie Moore said.

@laureneserge

[email protected]