No, I’m Not “Your Mom Now”

How a well-intentioned meme might hurt vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth

Laura Todd Carns

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Well-meaning moms, we need to talk.

During Pride month, I saw quite a few of you sharing memes that were variations of “Dear LGBTQ youth: If your family isn’t accepting of your identity, I’m your Mom now. Drink your water, get some sleep, I love you.” Even celebrity moms were doing it. Cute, right? So sweet!

I loved seeing so many women in my social media feeds sharing messages of support for LGBTQ+ youth, but something about this particular meme rubbed me the wrong way. It took me a while to figure out why I didn’t want to re-post it.

Here’s the thing. I know you mean well. I know you want to affirm these kids and let them know that you are an ally, a safe person for them to come to. This is awesome, and so needed. Kids absolutely need to be able to identify the allies in their lives, and you should be openly and loudly proclaiming your acceptance and welcoming stance.

In a world where LGBTQ+ youth are still kicked out of their homes or subjected to conversion therapy or told that they are deficient or wrong or broken because of their sexuality or gender identity, I’m wary of critiquing the mode of your support. No one wants to be told, “be an ally, but not like that.” Listen, I’m just glad you’re here, okay?

But think about how “I’m your mom now” might read to an actual LGBTQ+ kid who is right in the middle of realizing that their family of origin does not accept them as they are. It might feel flippant, or dismissive of the pain of their lived experience. If they don’t accept you, that’s okay, because this random woman does! Maybe they don’t need some random woman. They’re right in the thick of trying to negotiate a relationship with the parent(s) or other family members who have let them down.

“I’m your mom now” also ends up centering yourself in someone else’s suffering. Instead of affirming the pain and confusion of what they’re going through, it sounds like you’re jumping in and making this about you. And if you’re posting this on Facebook, who’s your audience here? Are you reaching the kids you mean to, or are you signaling to the other moms on your friends list that you’re not that kind of mother?

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Laura Todd Carns

Freelancer & fictioneer. Contributor to Medium pubs Human Parts, GEN, Curious; bylines elsewhere in WaPo, Quartz, EL, The Lily & more. www.lauratoddcarns.com