The Malta Independent 19 October 2019, Saturday

Drachma launches book with experiences of parents of LGBTIQ persons

Tuesday, 17 May 2016, 20:14 Last update: about 4 years ago

Drachma launched a book this evening called “Uliedna Rigal”, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Addressing the occasion, President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca spoke of the need to continue raising awareness of violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ persons around the world. “The ILGA Europe recognised Malta as number one, when it comes to LGBTI rights in Europe,” she said, adding that there is more to do among families, communities and societies.

She spoke of the Church’s role in Malta and mentioned the pope, who spoke of inclusion and friendship. 

Today’s book offers answers to fundamental questions that were asked within this group, she explained. It will give strength to LGBTIQ parents who look to understand the experiences of others.

The book is the fruit of eight years of work by Drachma Parents Group, together with the experience of the wider Drachma community.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia has been celebrated since 2004.

Following her speech, there was a moment of reflection and prayer.

Joseanne Peregin, Coordinator of Drachma Parents Group said that the group has been around for eight years. “Over the years, we have tried to answer our own questions, and it wasn’t easy. When meeting with other families, we realised there are common questions”.

She spoke of fighting against homophobia, and the book incorporates the experiences of parents of LGBTIQ parents over the years.

“There are many parents who still feel embarrassed to come to support groups,” she said.

She mentioned that there are families who don’t have access to information, adding however, that ignorance is what keeps you back.

She chose a chapel for the book launch, “as we received a lot of help from the Church. The Church brought us together to walk together”.

Louisa Grech, a parent who contributed to the book, read from her own experience written.. “Have you ever felt your heart being squashed, wanting to cry, not wanting to accept reality, but at the same time knowing  that you cannot carry this weight alone. You know about the prejudice in society. You know that certain people can make your son’s life hell. This is how I felt when I realised my son was gay”.

“My son spent years walking the line. There were hints by the friends he brought home. We always accepted his friends, but I wasn’t sure if he was gay or straight. He tried to tell us in a way that wouldn’t break our hearts. He knew what this family went through in the past… You keep hoping that things aren’t as you think”.

“He then went abroad to study and work, the first to live abroad, the one I knew would not come back to Malta soon. Thankfully he remained close, and we spoke frequently through skype and email. After a few years abroad, We visited him, and I felt the courage to ask him, and he said yes. While I knew the truth, I still felt the earth swallow me up. I was afraid of how they would treat him, look at him differently”.

“We spent a long time not talking to anyone, me and my husband speaking between ourselves, not telling anyone. It was later, that we felt we needed to share our thoughts with others, and came to Drachma”.

“When we told his brother, we expected him to be angry, but instead he said ‘that’s it? He’s still my brother’.

“God showed me he includes everyone, and that he looks at a person’s heart and not a person’s face. He helps everyone and loves everyone”. 

Acting Head of the Family Studies Department within the Faculty of Wellbeing Dr Clarissa Sammut Scerri described the book as a gift, with the experiences, questions and answers all being written from the heart. “It is filled with strong experiences by parents of LGBTIQ persons,” she said.

Some questions within the book, she said, are “how would I tell his grandparents? How can I support my child? If I support my child, does this mean I am going against the church? How do I tell others”

“Questions as to what one is to do when their LGBTIQ son or daughter brings their partner home are also dealt with”.

“I feel this book is a contribution, not just to parents with LGBTIQ parents, but also to all those interested in understanding these families”.

A representative of the group “We Are” said he wants the book to be present in all forms of education, especially in secondary education.

Chris Vella – coordinator of the Drachma LGBTI, thanked the parents who wrote down their experiences, and all those who helped make this dream a reality.

He explained that in a number of countries, the criminality of homosexuality is still practiced. 

 

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