Nominee 2005: sigrid pusch: help with the coming-out of parents

Sigrid Pusch advises relatives of homosexuals.

Picture: Andrea Baumgartl

Sometimes Sigrid Pusch wonders what children do to deserve such parents. For example, when a concerned father calls her and tells her that he just beat up his son with a baseball bat because he told him he was gay: "That was right, wasn’t it, what I did?" These are moments when Sigrid Pusch is at a loss.

Her family home on the outskirts of Hanover has long since become the headquarters of the Federal Association of Parents, Friends and Relatives of Homosexuals (Befah), where the injustices that gays and lesbians still have to suffer are addressed. The calls from worried parents have to be answered, and every now and then a young man who has been kicked out of home stands in front of the door: "It can’t be that you are homosexual, because then you wouldn’t be my son."

Just before Christmas, it’s especially bad. No one is cast out from Sigrid Pusch’s always lavishly laid table. The family, the shared meal, that is close to her heart: "It’s not as if gays and lesbians fall from the sky, they come from families. And unfortunately, very many families break up after the son or daughter comes out." Mostly because the parents don’t manage their own coming out as parents of homosexual children.

Sigrid Pusch was not exactly pleased when her son came out as gay in 1996. She was disappointed, angry: "First of all it’s a loss, you have to say goodbye: The picture you have of your child falls down, but only the frame and the glass breaks, the actual picture doesn’t change. I have to work out the frame anew." Sigrid Pusch went on the offensive. She realized quite quickly how important an unwavering commitment by parents to homosexual emancipation could be.

For the rights of homosexuals and against silence

"If you want to achieve something politically, you need an association at the federal level." This is what the trained nurse has set up; Befah has long been a serious civil rights player with around 250 organized parent couples. Every two years, there is a national meeting, and Sigrid Pusch, her husband and their comrades-in-arms speak to politicians and church representatives. Sigrid Pusch is fighting for the rights of homosexuals and against silence: "Many parents think they can’t live with their child’s homosexuality. But they only make it difficult for themselves because they are afraid to talk about it. At some point, everyone knows anyway."

Sigrid Pusch always stings the wasps’ nest, she makes noise, she speaks openly about what seems to be a horror to many: "I don’t see that at all, I don’t let myself be pushed into the dark with my child! These people are so reduced to their sexuality." She herself almost lost her son during pregnancy. That’s another reason she can’t understand why some parents disown their child: "Parents have a duty to stand up and correct the injustices their children have to suffer."

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