Orthodox Mom of Gay Kid writes about the experience at an Eshel Parent Group. See full blog post here.

I attended an Eshel Parent get together recently.  As opposed to the monthly parent phone call which I often mention on this blog,  Eshel has in person groups in different parts of the country several times a year.

I’ve been asked by friends who have never attended something like this what it’s like.  Some people assume the group consists of a bunch of parents sitting around and crying about their LGBT children.  Others assume that it is an awkward mix of strangers with nothing to say to each other.

It’s actually neither of these things.  I mean sure, occasionally a parent will get emotional when talking about the journey their child or family is or was going through.  There also may occasionally be a parent who doesn’t feel comfortable talking to a group of people. I won’t lie.  There is awkwardness.  But that awkwardness usually occurs within the first few minutes of the group.  Sometimes people have never openly spoken about their LGBT child to anyone.  Sometimes people have been brought there by an enthusiastic spouse (who is more enthusiastic than they are).

But a strange thing happens every time. By the middle of the event, everyone starts feeling incredibly comfortable with each other.  There is almost a palpable feeling of “wow, these people understand me” in the room and it turns into a warmth which ends up seeping into the group.  By the end of the event, people who hadn’t met one another prior to that day are hugging like old friends.  And if you happen to be someone like me who has now attended several of these events you learn that there could be someone there you never would have had the opportunity to get to know had your paths not crossed in this way but you now consider this person (or people) part of a special family that you’re part of.

So I’m willing to brave the potential awkwardness every time. Because I know that the net gain will be so great that I’ll feel enriched every time as well.