A letter from a Korean mother to all the mothers with LGBT children

Dear Mothers With Children Shining Like a Rainbow,

Although we’ve never met, I greet you with all my heart. There’s something special about mothers who have LGBT children. We immediately feel a certain affection towards each other when we meet, even before sharing a word. The knowledge of the difficulties our children face makes us more perceptive as parents. So, even if you are far away or speak different languages, even if we’ve never met, I feel so glad to make your acquaintance in this way.

I am a mother of a child who is both transgender and bisexual in South Korea. When people around me learn this, they make comments, in a tone mixed with both worry and reproach, like, “Oh, you must be so worried,” or “How did that(!) happen?” Of course, in the past, I also felt worried and afraid. But now that I know that being a sexual minority is neither problematic or bad, I am proud that my child is different and that I am the mother of this special child.

I can imagine the shock and grief you must have felt when you first learned about your child’s sexual orientation. You may have been angry about why, of all people in the world, your child had to be born with a gender identity and sexual orientation that form such a minority in your society. You may have felt so afraid at the thought of having to live the rest of your life in a society which does not kindly embrace sexual and gender minorities. I know how painful and difficult it is to know and be fearful that your child may be subject to lifelong suffering when all we want to do as mothers is to lessen the burdens of our children for them, however old they become.

Do you perhaps regret scolding and being hurtful to your children over their sexual orientation? If you do, don’t. It’s okay. You’re now doing your best to understand and support your child, and you will do better.

Even now, you’re listening to what I say because you’re worried more about your child than yourself. I can tell by your interest in this article that you have an enormous love for your child and that your child is happy to have you.

2017 Daegu Queer Culture Festival (대구 퀴어문화축제). The title reads, “What’s it like to come out to parents/family?”

I remember the time when my child first came out to me.

My child was born as a daughter but liked to dress like a boy from a very young age. When he was in kindergarten, he wrote a love letter to a girl. In middle school, he kept saying that he did not want to live as a girl anymore. Whenever he said those words, I tried to ignore his pleas and tell him, “You’re still young; you’ll feel different when you get older.” Now that I look back, I see how hard it must have been for him to face the difficulties he experienced at school and among friends alone, with no information within his reach and no one to turn to. All the while, I was ignoring my child, blaming myself for his sexual orientation, his heart must have bled every day from the loneliness and suffering he underwent in this world that denies his existence and looks at him with disgust.

That was me before, but now I’ve changed a bit.

My child suggested I join the Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea, and through this group, I learned a lot from talking and studying with other parents. I learned that sexual orientation is not a choice, but the way you are born. I learned that having a different gender identity is not the parents’ or anyone else’s fault, but a natural trait like being left-handed or having a different complexion. I learned that sexual and gender minorities struggle long and hard over their own identities. It’s true. Why would anyone choose to be a sexual minority when you live in a society that considers sexual and gender minorities as easy targets for discrimination and censure?

People tell the LGBT to live as they are. Yes, they’re right about that. Our children were born like this. They live as sexual and gender minorities because they cannot be who they are not. They have been struggling and screaming out for help because they wish to live as they are in a world where only two genders, male and female, are accepted and acknowledged.

I was devastated when I realized how I unintentionally left many big and small wounds in my child’s heart while he was growing up. Now that I know that I have no reason to fear or blame myself about my child’s special trait, I am able to stand up to the world and shout out, “I am proud to be the parent of an LGBT child!” Now, I am grateful to my child for bringing this wonderful change in my life. It was never that the fact that my child was LGBT, but the way others saw us that made things hard for me.

Members of the Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea at the 2017 Seoul Queer Parade

I am now deeply involved in the Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea, doing my best to make people understand our children, and it’s become a source of great strength and comfort to me. When our children feel too fearful to face the hate and violence towards them, we parents gather our strength and stand tall at the front so that we can make a better world for them. Petitioning for the enactment of anti-discrimination laws, participating in queer parades, responding to hate groups, and raising awareness on and support for LGBT people are just some of the things our group works on to create a society where everyone embraces diversity and lives happily together. I feel like I am paying back the debt I have to my child for being a not-so-great parent when he was younger!

In those times when you’re not sure what to do for your child, just hold them close. Just hug them, even if you find it difficult. It may come as a surprise, but children feel a tremendous fear that their parents might think of them as monsters if they come out to them. Even when we parents love our children no matter what.

The parents of the Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea do free-hug events at queer parades. When we call out, “Everyone, come here, let me hug you!” LGBT people, old and young, come for hugs with tears in their eyes. We cry with them, too. Our children feel relieved, thankful, and gain the power to live on, just by knowing there are adults who accept them as they are. I hope you also understand and embrace your child as who they are. And please tell them, “Mommy loves you, no matter what.”

Even if you are not familiar with LGBT and feel a little uncomfortable because you don’t come across them often, I hope you remember that we are all precious human beings on earth, no different from each other. I believe that the world is a better place when it is filled with diversity. Just like how different colors come together to create the celestial beauty we call rainbows.

Fellow mothers!

Let’s walk hand in hand until that day comes when all our children feel safe and sound. A mother is the strongest name in the world. The power we have matches the great love and concern we have for our children; with that power, let’s make our proud voices heard by shouting out, “LGBT people have the same right to happiness like everyone else in the world.” Just as rain drops gather to become rivers and oceans, let us gather our powers to create a bigger world.

Let’s march on together!!

Nabi (Eun-Ae Jung) of the Parents and Families of LGBT People in Kore


Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea

With the growing visibility of minorities in Korea, including the LGBT, more parents are learning that their children are LGBT.

The Parents and Families of LGBT People in Korea is a group for parents who feel troubled to learn about their child’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

We listen, sympathize, comfort each other, and share the worries we have that we could not share anywhere else. We are here because it is important to have someone to talk about your troubled relationship with your children, the conflicts you feel due to your religious beliefs, your anxieties about your child’s future, and any other concerns you may have.

Monthly meetings: 4:00pm every second Saturday of the month (Seoul area)

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