June is PRIDE month, the annual celebration of the LGBTQ community across the globe. This year it also marks the launch of the Pride and Joy Foundation, an online support community raising awareness of the issues facing LGBTQ families.
From children with LGBTQ parents to parents with LGBTQ children, families in the community experience challenges not found in the traditional family setting. Parents and children find themselves needing support in the wake of bullying, exclusion from activities, the lack of affirmation from others and the uncertainty of the future in general.
The Pride and Joy Foundation will help LGBTQ families find allies, support for inclusivity and resiliency, and a library of digital courses and tools that teach concepts of self- awareness and emotional intelligence. Whether it is a parent whose child has come out to them, or a parent gathering the courage they need to come out to their child, the foundation encourages education and growth.
And the need for support among LGBTQ youth is staggering. According to research done by The Trevor Project, the risk of suicide for a LGBTQ youth can decrease by as much as 40 percent with just one trusted adult in their life. Through the Pride and Joy Foundation, adults can develop the skills to become the trusted resource that every youth deserves.
Pride and Joy Foundation founder Elena Joy Thurston was married for 18 years and a devout Mormon for more than 20 years before she came to terms with her sexuality. She describes coming out to her four children as the scariest moment of her life.
“I had raised my children to be devout, conservative members of our faith. I now had to tell them that I, their mom, actually embodied the evil that I had taught them was tearing down society,” Thurston says. “I had already lost my entire community, my marriage, my business. Was I going to lose my children too? Would they flee to their dad’s house, disgusted with who I am? I have never felt fear like that.”
In an effort to save her marriage and her standing in her religious beliefs, Thurston enrolled herself in conversion therapy. The therapy had devastating consequences and as part of the healing process, she now speaks out against the practice.
Thurston recognized the unique need for support and community for LGBTQ families after a viral TEDx talk on her experience with conversion therapy and coming out. When the COVID-19 crisis led to speaking engagements being canceled, she says youth began reaching out to her directly looking for support while being quarantined with their families. The idea for Pride and Joy Foundation began there.
Support for the foundation is growing among small businesses leaders. For the grand opening, the Lather Bath Bar will sell an artisanal PRIDE soap and the Joyful Jewelry Box has specially crafted a piece of PRIDE jewelry. Proceeds from the sale of the soap will be donated to the Pride and Joy Foundation.
For more information on Pride and Joy Foundation, including access to resources or to become an ally to LGBTQ families, please visit www.prideandjoyfoundation.com.