“The Mother Factor: Acceptance Works Both Ways” with Rick Miller, Gay Sons and Mothers

It was wonderful to meeting some of my fellow “Gay Sons and Mothers” board members in person!

NOTE: link to view this referenced TEDx talk is at the bottom of this blog.

I am honored and pleased to now be serving on the board of a relatively new nonprofit, “Gay Sons and Mothers,” founded by Rick Miller, a psychotherapist, author and public speaker. Gay Sons and Mothers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that chronicles the complex emotional bond that exists between gay sons and their mothers. The project was begun by founder Rick Miller in 2016 and Gay Sons and Mothers was formally organized in December of 2018.

Through interviews and the use of multimedia, Gay Sons and Mothers documents personal stories about the defining qualities of this unique relationship. We highlight how this special connection has the power to increase the overall acceptance of gay sons and their families, communities, and peers. Do read my initial blog introducing this organization.

In June, 2022, Rick invited all the board members to attend TEDx Provincetown, where he was one of eight inspirational speakers on a wide range of fascinating topics. In addition to hearing Rick, it was great to meet several of my fellow Gay Sons and Mothers board members in person.

Rick Miller giving his talk at TEDx Provincetown

Rick’s talk was titled, “The Mother Factor: Acceptance Works Both Ways.” What is so fascinating is that Rick is perhaps the first person to do extensive research on how a mother’s role is so critical to every person’s life, even as adults.

Here are some key points from Rick’s talk:

A mother is the person who has the greatest impact on her gay son’s psychological well-being. The main trait in healthy gay men is that they had mothers who just accepted him and let him be who he wanted to be. If that meant playing hopscotch or loving to wear glitter, she didn’t stop him.

Up until the mid to late ’70s, the medical and mental-health communities blamed mothers for “making their sons gay.” Imagine how a mother felt receiving these messages – from her husband, doctor, or clergy back then.

You’d think that mothers wouldn’t accept their sons for being different, yet there were many accepting mothers who simply ignored what they were being told – and privately followed their own intuition.

When a mother is supportive of her gay child, magic happens. Their bond is frequently private, unspoken, and even unrecognized, while they both experience a sense of togetherness.

Rick closed his talk with some important points on how all of us should think of and treat our mothers:

• First, step out of viewing your mother just as your mom. Instead recognize that she is a whole person, and give her the acceptance that she deserves. Instead of focusing on her weaknesses or what she didn’t do, also focus on her strengths and what she did well.

• Then, appreciate that she grew up in her own imperfect world, in a family system with vulnerabilities that existed long before you were even born.

• And recognize that how your mother was parented became the model of how she parented you. Maybe she did the best she could!

• If you want to be fully appreciative of your mother, do your best to let go of your grudges.

• If your mother is still alive, and you both have the opportunity to speak to each other about your experiences, why not do so while you can?

• And if she is no longer alive, remember, your relationship continues inside… and there is no expiration date on acceptance or forgiveness!

In an ideal world, mothers are seen as the emancipators, but now it is up to you- to turn the tables and emancipate her.

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You can now watch the 10-minute talk on Youtube using this link!!

Supporting a dozen (actually more) non-profits!

My major philanthropic work in the Kimer-Kamba Center in Kenya

I am a solopreneur diversity and career development consultant and trainer, and 2021 has been my best year ever. I truly believe that when a business succeeds, even a small micro-business like mine, I should give back to the community.

When I went back and looked at my financials, I saw that I contributed to over a dozen various and diverse nonprofits throughout 2021 in addition to continuing to give 5% of my gross billings to my community development work in Mtito Andei, Kenya.

So below is a quick summary of the various non profits I was proud to support in 2021 with links to the organization or a past blog I have published about them. Please do explore the links!

GROUP 1 – LGBTQ+ Diversity. Naturally since one of my core areas of expertise with my training and consulting is LGBTQ+ diversity, several organizations are in this arena
• The advocacy organization EqualityNC which helps assure equity and equality for all LGBTQ+ people in North Carolina
• Gay Sons and Mothers. I have recently been elected to the board of directors of this organization with the mission to collect, curate, celebrate, and preserve narratives that educate, inspire, and bring hope to audiences about the significance of this emotional bond. Earlier this year I published an interview I had with their founder Rick Miller.
Qnotes, which is the bi-weekly LGBTQ+ printed and online newspaper for the LGBTQ community in North an South Carolina.
• The Trans Justice Funding Project, which I highlight in my 2021 blog about taking action on the Transgender Day of Visibility.
• Naturally the LGBTQIA Center at Georgia Tech, of which I am a proud graduate. FYI I was Georgia Tech’s LGBTQIA alumni of the year in 2018.
• And locally, the LGBT Center of Raleigh.

The North Carolina Councils of Churches brings people to faith to together to address societal wrongs like racism, islamophobia and homophobia

GROUP 2 – Organizations with a focus on racial justice equity
• I continue to provide financial support both personally and through my business to the North Carolina Council of Churches. I have served on their board for two decades and am currently on their racial equity committee
• As a long time figure skating fan and now adult skater myself, the FSDIA – Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance.

I applaud and support US Figure Skating’s fund to support figure skaters of color.

• In addition, I have supported US Figure Skating’s Mabel Fairbanks Skatingly Yours Fund, which financially assists and supports the training and development of promising Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) figure skaters with the goal of helping them realize and achieve their maximum athletic potential.
• The Justice Theater Project, (link to my most recent blog about them) whose mission is to produce compelling theater experiences that create community dialogue and give voice to social concerns.

Bridge II Sports provides many opportunities for people of all ages and disabilities to participate in sports

GROUP 3 – Serving people with disabilities
Bridge II Sports, a wonderful local NC organization that provides adapted sports programs for people with physical disabilities, both youth and adults.
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, a New York City based theater which produces shows featuring actors with a wide range of disabilities.

GROUP 4 – General philanthropic work. Since I do have clients in the state of Texas, I made donations to emergency food organizations in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas following their February deep freeze and power crisis.

Perhaps you can join me in supporting one or more of these worthy organizations in 2022!