Finding a resource for parents who discover their child is gay or lesbian can be a difficult and intimidating task, said David Huebner, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Utah. Many parents are unsure how to behave and don’t necessarily feel comfortable joining gay-rights organizations, he added. But the film Lead with Love, is designed to help educate and aid parents and family members through what can be a difficult process, Huebner said.
The film, released in December 2010, follows four families as they share their honest reactions when finding out their child is gay. There are interviews with psychologists, teachers and clergy to provide factual answers to parents’ most commonly asked questions, as well as a concrete guide to help parents keep their children healthy and safe. The film can be viewed for free at leadwithlovefilm.com. At just 35 minutes, it is an approachable medium for everyone, Huebner said.
“I have been doing research on how discrimination affects people’s health for about 10 years. Many recent studies focus on LGBT kids and we’ve found, not surprisingly, how parents respond can have a tremendous impact on the overall health of the child,” Huebner said.
When parents reject their child because of their sexuality the child is eight times more likely to attempt suicide and three times more likely to experiment with illegal substances, Huebner said.
The documentary’s balance of emotion and factual information was a challenge, but also a rewarding experience for director Jenny Mackenzie.
“It was such a rewarding experience and I’m so proud of the film. My mother is gay, so it’s a very special piece to me as the daughter of a lesbian,” Mackenzie said. “I’ve always known that documentaries can create change, but what I love so much about this film is the steps it gives to parents. It’s so great to offer not just emotion, but a real way to implement it.”
The feedback from viewers has been overwhelmingly positive and much of the success is due to creating a film void of politics, focusing instead on the real stories of normal families, Huebner said.
“The film filled a void. We created something very approachable for everyone that can be viewed from their homes,” Huebner said.
Lead with Love has been viewed thousands of times and the feedback from viewers has helped Huebner continue his research.