How do I tell oth­ers? Will I have grand­chil­dren?

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

Ali­son Walsh is a mem­ber of the sup­port group, Par­ents of Jewish Gays and Les­bians

HAV­ING A Jewish child come out can be a be­wil­der­ing time for par­ents. Ali­son Walsh says the ortho­dox com­mu­nity should be pro­vid­ing more sup­port for fam­i­lies.

She and her hus­band joined the group in 2007 when their 15-year-old son came out. Mem­bers meet in each other’s homes to hear and share their ex­pe­ri­ences in a con­fi­den­tial set­ting.

“People of­ten have ques­tions: How do I tell oth­ers? What does the fu­ture look like?” she said.

“The thing that is hard­est is ask­ing ‘will I have grand­chil­dren?’ It’s also quite hard, par­tic­u­larly if you are in­volved in the syn­a­gogue and have friends there. Can I tell any­one in the syn­a­gogue? In a sense, par­ents have to ‘out’ them­selves.”

The group started in Lon­don, but now has a Leeds and Manch­ester branch. They pro­vide a helpline for par­ents and chil­dren look­ing for ad­vice.

Mrs Walsh said she found the group by search­ing on­line, but says it needs much more pub­lic­ity within the com­mu­nity. “When a child tells their par- ents it in­vari­ably comes as a com­plete shock. In al­most all cases they do not ex­pect it,” said Mrs Walsh.

“The par­ents want to talk to some­one and don’t know who they can talk to. I am hop­ing that the United Syn­a­gogue and gen­eral syn­a­gogues will start to pub­li­cise the group more. It needs to be recog­nised.”

Mrs Walsh said some ortho­dox shuls are scared of pub­licly show­ing sup­port for the group. “If you talk to the ortho­dox they will say you are nor­mal­is­ing it, but these chil­dren ex­ist and they are nor­mal and they could give a lot to Jewish com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

M r s Wa l s h be­lieves the com­mu­nity could also do more to in­clude gay chil­dren, adding: “For het­ero­sex­ual Jews we go to great lengths to get our chil­dren to meet Jewish part­ners.”

“A gay child knows they are gay at much the same age as child knows they are het­ero­sex­ual. There is much that could be done for Jewish gay chil­dren to meet oth­ers.”

“We have to out our­selves. If you talk to the ortho­dox, they say you are nor­mal­is­ing it”

As told to Naomi Fir­sht

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