Radio host shares pain of family rejection ahead of event supporting LGBTQ families
photo by: Contributed Photo
Jordin Silver doesn’t want any kids to grow up the way she did: confused, alone, knowing she’d be more loved if she were more “normal.”
“I’m 37, and gay was AIDS, gay was bad,” she said of her childhood in Old Orchard Beach, a small tourist town on the coast of Maine. “Life could have been so much different,” if she could have spoken about her sexuality to a sympathetic adult, if someone could have supported her, she said, “but instead I just carried this thing around that I didn’t understand.”
Silver spoke to the Journal-World ahead of her Tuesday speaking engagement at the fall mixer for Rainbow Kids and Families, a support group that formed in the past year to help families navigate LGBTQ issues in the Lawrence school district and community.
Silver is the host of the early morning show “Jordin Silver and Friends” on 96.5 The Buzz, which she describes as a platform that eschews cynicism in favor of “celebrating the positive.”
Something she said on the show — rather something she did — attracted the attention of Matt Enyart, one of the founders of Rainbow Kids. A straight person on the show was uncomfortable with a discussion about gender identity, and Silver, instead of shaming the person or “taking the safe way out and changing the topic, gently facilitated the uncomfortable conversation” and made it constructive, Enyart said.
“It was super impressive,” he said, “as we all need to be having those conversations with our friends, family members and co-workers.”
So Enyart invited Silver to speak to the Lawrence group. She was happy to do so and hopes that her own experiences will be helpful.
Silver knows what it’s like to not only have no support as a child but to face open hostility for “not being normal.” To this day, she said, her family is not comfortable with her sexuality. When she worked up the courage to come out at age 18, she said, they nearly kicked her out of the house, and when she was in a long-term relationship with a woman, they still told family friends that she was single, ignoring the reality of her life as though her personal identity were a phase.
This is what Enyart, who has a transgender child, wants to stop: the hostility, the shaming, the isolation. Eventually Silver moved on and, like countless gay people, created her own community of support, but it was a sad journey that needn’t have been, she said, if the proper support and love had been in place.
Enyart said the response to Rainbow Kids had been “overwhelmingly positive” and that the community of families had grown significantly since the group’s formation last spring.
“Families have shared how much they appreciated meeting and how excited their children were to meet other kids like themselves,” he said.
The group is also reaching out to schools in smaller towns in the area — like the one where Silver grew up — to offer support and resources to people who feel excluded or who need help navigating various issues.
“We know some families and students still feel isolated and alone in their journey,” he said. “We want them to feel safe, healthy and authentically included in their schools, homes and communities.”
The Rainbow Kids and Families fall mixer, which is free and open to all, is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire St. After Silver’s speech, there will be a presentation regarding inclusive school features and resources, followed by snacks and drinks provided by The Merc, plus activities for children, including music and a “silly photo booth.”