Adam Ellis: The Atlanta Interview
When Atlanta realtor Adam Ellis first came out to his parents, it took a while for them to accept him.
In time they finally did, and after realizing that there weren’t many resources online for parents of gay teens, his family decided to create one, Family Acceptance.
Adam and his mother, Patti Ellis, recently appeared on a CNN segment with Don Lemmon titled ‘Faith and Family.’ We had some additional questions for Adam in light of the recent stories on gay bullying and teen suicides…
Why did you and your family start FamilyAcceptance.com?
The idea came to my mom because when I first came out and she went to look for resources online, the first things that popped up were porn sites or anti-gay religious sites.
My parents wanted to create a resource for parents (and kids) who were struggling with the coming out process to help them understand that they are not alone.
Your mother said she had to come out also. What advice does she and your father have for mothers of gay teens?
First and foremost, your child needs you now more than ever. They are still the same person you’ve always known.
Although I knew my parents were struggling with my coming out, I still knew that they loved me and would support me through this struggle.
What advice do you have for gay kids whose parents are not as accepting as yours?
One thing to know is that my parents were not this accepting at first. It was a long struggle for them, and it took them many years to get to this point.
My advice is try to be patient and understand that this is a shock to everything they’ve pictured your life to be. At the same time, you have to hold your ground and not back down.
There were many fights that my parents and I had in this process, but I did not back down from my stance of knowing this was not a phase.
What kinds of feedback have you received from the site?
So many emails that come in are from parents or kids just starting the process. These emails express pain, confusion, and often anger.
Over time, though, they have seen these same people completely come around (some take longer than others).
There have been a few hate emails that have come through, but they are very rare and hardly make an impact.
Even though our country has become so much more accepting over the past 10 years, why do you think there has been a recent increase in gay bullying and teen suicides?
That’s a very good question that I wish I had a better answer to. My only thought on this is that the “gay” issue has become a tool of conservative right-wing politicians to gain votes.
Homosexuality is portrayed in such a negative and immoral way that these “bullies” feel as if they are in the right. I mean why wouldn’t they… both their country and their church say that it’s wrong.
Do you think it’s more difficult to grow up gay in the South than in other places?
That’s hard for me to say since this is the only place that I’ve lived. But I will say that emails come to my parents from all over the country (and world). So my guess is that it’s tough everywhere.
How does being gay in metro Atlanta compare to where you grew up in Georgia?
COMPLETELY different. Living in the city, I often forget that we live in a microcosm here. I rarely even think about being gay here at all… it’s just me.
But in the suburbs and beyond, it is something that’s not talked about. You certainly don’t feel the freedom to be yourself and it could severely impact any social relationships you have.
What are some other resources for gay teens and parents?
There is a ‘Resources‘ page on the FamilyAcceptance.com Web site with books, videos and articles we recommend.
You’re also a realtor with TeamEllis and Sotheby’s. What are some of the best neighborhoods in Atlanta to live in if you’re gay?
Truthfully, as long as you are inside the city, you can find a neighborhood you will love and feel accepted in.
The Midtown area is where most of the gay bars are located, but your choices extend far beyond that.
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