By Alex Temblador
When I first started writing for The Next Family, it was awkward to tell others that I was writing for an online family magazine with a heavy focus on LGBT families. For one, I didn’t (and still don’t) have children. My only experience with modern families was the multiracial, blended family that I grew up in. And though I had close family members and friends that were part of the LGBTQ+ community, I also didn’t (and still don’t) identify as LGBTQ+.
But I trudged forward and wrote articles — mostly of the informative variety — for The Next Family, but I did so a little (okay, a lot) unsure of myself. Why would anyone listen to me about family topics or LGBTQ+ topics for that matter? However, I told myself that you don’t need to be part of a community to write about them, as long as you can empathize with their situation, listen carefully, be respectful, and do strong, deep research. So that’s what I did, and I stayed, for the most part, working on heavily researched articles when I submitted to TNF.
A few months after writing for TNF in 2014, I started to notice that I was getting a following on Twitter where I shared many of the articles and blogs that I had had published on The Next Family, and the following were family or LGBTQ+ readers. That was cool, but I was still a bit nervous that I would be seen as someone who was incompetent of writing such pieces. But good things continued to happen for me as a writer at The Next Family. I noticed that Facebook followers liked some of my articles or wrote comments that expressed thanks for such information presented. And just a few months after I began writing for The Next Family, the Huffington Post picked up my first article from TNF and soon after they picked up another one and another.
One such article though really seemed to stick out among the others: “A Call for LGBT-Inclusive Sex Education.” It was soon after picked up by the Huffington Post and re-titled: “Why is LGBT Sex-Education Still So Taboo?” This article was inspired after watching something on Netflix that featured sex education in schools (I don’t even remember the show).
As I researched this article, I didn’t find any others like it. In the article, I shared statistics and information on sex education across the U.S. and the states that included LGBT sex ed and those that didn’t and even worse, those that specifically targeted the LGBTQ community as “an unacceptable, criminal lifestyle” (Alabama’s homophobic words, not mine).
The article went well on both The Next Family and Huffington Post (and on the many other outlets who picked it up), but nothing crazy like gaining viral status. But then something happened… a few months later, I got tagged on Twitter with the article. And then more months later, I got questions from Twitter users about it. And then almost a year later, I got a Facebook message from a friend. She works as a tutor at my graduate college and discovered that a university student cited that specific article in her class paper. I was ecstatic about that. Wow — someone was using my article in their paper? Amazing!
A few weeks ago, I decided to Google myself because I guess I had nothing better to do that day. Of course, the LGBT sex education article appeared but as I kept looking, I noticed there were other references to it. A student at Ole Miss had referenced that article in their student paper. Someone had included the paper in the reference section of a textbook. Others had referenced it in their articles or blogs about LGBT youth or LGBT sex education.
But probably the best one that I found was a Reddit user — a student who had referenced some of the stats and statements in my article in their speech for a speech class. What’s more the Reddit user was giving the speech in the class of a homophobic teacher and was asking other Redditors if it was a good speech because they wanted to make a difference in their class and on their teacher. I was absolutely blown away by their speech and so honored that I helped out in some tiny way.
I used to be scared that I didn’t have an authoritative voice to write on LGBTQ+ matters. I used to be scared that what I was writing wasn’t helping anyone or anything. However, after Googling myself and seeing how much that one article that I wrote for The Next Family has been circulated or helped others to make arguments for LGBT sex education, I’m no longer scared. I’m proud. I am so proud to be an LGBT-ally who gets to write articles that help others, even in some little way. I’m too happy to see that after that one article, I noticed other articles and blogs that popped up over the last two years asking for LGBT-sex education, because I absolutely believe its a necessary for youth in all schools.
Though I may not have set out to write on family or LGBTQ+ community topics, I’m glad I have and am. I’ve learned so much and have been involved in so many amazing experiences that I have grown as a better person for it. I’m proud to be a LGBTQ+ ally writer and I hope to continue to help the community just as they have helped me.
Alex Temblador is a writer for The Next Family and founder of a women’s blogazine, Fempotential.