Dr. Lulu

ABCDEF of Parenting Your LGBTQ with Dr. Lulu

About the episode

In this episode of the Mom Owned and Operated podcast, Rita Suzanne and Dr. Lulu discuss raising a family, running a business and remembering yourself.

Dr. Lulu is a multiple award-winning Queer, Nigerian-born pediatrician, Bestselling author, LGBTQ+ educator, TEDx speaker, corporate consultant, CEO of Dr. Lulu’s Coaching & Consulting Lounge and chief host of Moms 4 Trans Kids Podcast.  She is a mother of 3, one of whom is a transgender young adult woman.

She is CEO of Dr. Lulu’s PRIDE Corner, a family-centered gender-affirming coaching practice and she also helps support employee-parents at the workplace with her AllyBridgeConnection program. Her “Allies in White Coats” program helps healthcare professionals become culturally competent allies to mitigate health inequities plaguing the LGBTQ+ community. 

She was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for her work in LGBTQ+ advocacy. Dr. Lulu’s current focus is helping communities support and affirm Black transgender kids one family at a time.

 You can connect with Dr. Lulu on her websiteInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube

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Listen to the episode

Show Notes

SPEAKERS

Rita Suzanne, Dr. Lulu

Rita Suzanne  00:01

Welcome to the Mom Owned and Operated Podcast, the podcast about moms and for moms, where we have candid conversations about running a business, raising a family, and remembering ourselves. I’m your host, Rita Suzanne, a single mom of four, digital strategist and provider of no nonsense business strategies and tactics.

Rita Suzanne: 

Hi, I’m Rita Suzanne, and today I have my guest, Dr. Lulu, with me. I am so excited to chat with you today. I cannot wait to get deeper into this conversation. Please tell everyone all about you, your family and your business.

Dr. Lulu: 

My name is Dr Lulu. Thank you so much for the opportunity to hang out with you. I can’t remember. Did we meet at the podcast, Was that?

Rita Suzanne: 

what we meant. No, I found you in a Facebook group and I was like I have to chat with her, I have to meet with her.

Dr. Lulu: 

Okay. Okay, I was going to try to start from there, but I guess not. I do get a lot of people that we’re talking about before we started, so I forget. I forgot to ask you before we went live. You’re welcome to edit that part out. So I’m a pediatrician, retired, and actually I said to myself yesterday I’m going to start leading with. I’m a life coach, so I can get that identity into my head, because once you’re a physician after such a long time 34 years, it’s all I’ve known. So my brain always defaults to I’m a pediatrician, but I really want to start saying I’m a life coach, who was a former pediatrician, because I don’t really practice that much anymore. I retired four years ago and I work almost exclusively with parents of LGBTQ plus kids. However, I’m also an educator in the LGBTQ space and an advocate for the queer community, as a queer person myself and as a mother of a young adult who’s also transgender. So my life, my mornings, my afternoons, my nights are pretty much soaked in all things LGBT advocacy, and that’s it.

Dr. Lulu: 

I’m Nigerian by birth, I’m an immigrant, I’m Black, I’m a woman, I’m a radical. I really, truly and I don’t know if you cuss on your show or not, but I have no fucks to give. I ran out of fucks when I turned 55 years ago. So I just, these days, I just tell you how I feel with love, but how I feel nonetheless. And growing up as a woman in Nigeria, in a Black country, that’s very patriarchal, very misogynistic. I mean, that’s all you hear. Women are seen, not heard. Children are seen, not heard. It’s a man’s world. There’s a whole song about it, right? And so you grow up diminishing yourself just non-stop, non-stop.

Dr. Lulu: 

And it was my interview with Oprah that actually. That was when I said you know what, enough of this. I was kind of low-key, not trying to hear that anymore, but Oprah was like what do you mean? You have imposter syndrome, you’re a leader, you’re a gallant, you’re a trailblazer. I’m like I am. She’s like yes, and I was like, okay, I see, oprah, and so you kind of we all need someone like that, who sees the good in us, the best in us, the better in us and wants us to shine. And so now I’m unapologetic in my queerness, in my mamahood, in my entrepreneurship, in my empowering of other women and all the things, all the things. So, yeah, I appreciate you.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, I feel like it’s. It’s so interesting that us, as women, we often need somebody else to kind of push us up and say, hey, you’re great, right, like we always need somebody else to, especially with imposter syndrome and when it comes to business, we need somebody else to say why are you doubting yourself?

Dr. Lulu: 

Why are you even, you know, feeling like this and you know the reason we need people to tell us that is because it’s because it was people who told us we couldn’t. I think we nobody, no human being, can exist as an island. We are, whether we like it or not, you know, by nature social people. We need other people. I mean, we’re not even cats, who are not very friendly animals compared to dogs need their owners. They need each other. So because the trauma, the initial inciting agent, was caused by a person, it makes sense that it also takes a person to make us feel better. We don’t necessarily you don’t have to have someone to tell you that, but willpower, and just will, is so weak that everyone I know is still trying to get on a diet. Everyone I know is still trying to lose the same 10 pounds. Right, because willpower is just not easy. Okay, you know what? All right, I’ll have a bagel just this once. Or I don’t have to exercise today, I’ll exercise tomorrow, because willpower is not as strong as it is. And for those who are Christians, you know, even Jesus got tempted, you know, Maybe he didn’t cave in, but he went there, you know, he got to the edge. And so I think harnessing the inside human of all of us is important. Harnessing the inside human of all of us is important. We’re not robots. A robot can stand right here and not move for 30 years, but human beings will move. We need each other.

Dr. Lulu: 

So I think because initial trauma was caused by maybe a parent, an aunt, it was my aunt that told me I was going to go to hell if I told anyone that I liked girls.

Dr. Lulu: 

It was my dad that told me you know, being LGBT or liking girls and boys, which I told him was a phase it was my mom that told me not to say it again when I said I think my child is gay. So it was people that started that. So I think it’s important to understand the power of other people, which is why coaching is so powerful, because coaching is about having someone who says you know, I think you can do it, here’s how and or, better still, how do you want to do it, and I’ll hold you accountable that you will do what you say you’re going to do, because we know that you know we’re not strong, especially entrepreneurship, especially in that realm. There’s a lot of mental health struggles and suicide, as a matter of fact, in women entrepreneurs, in male entrepreneurs, I mean. This Zappos guy was a big news when he died by. I think it was suicide. It was just a random house fire in his little penthouse apartment. That doesn’t happen, and so we must not overlook the fact that, as human beings, we need each other.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, well, yeah, mental health and mindset and all of these things are super important in entrepreneurship, and I see you always say that you know, if your mindset isn’t right in your, in your entrepreneurship journey, it’s going to be a struggle for you to even be successful in your business at all. Right, and that’s why it’s important to have coaches or to have accountability partners or other other people alongside you because, like you said, it’s hard to do it by yourself and you can be so into um, you know your self-care journey, but having somebody else come beside you and, um, I know, even for me, like having somebody else, even on those times where I’m, like you know, questioning myself, and then having somebody else come and be like you’re great, you’re awesome, I’m like, I think you know, like thank you.

Dr. Lulu: 

Yeah, I mean, let’s let’s just put, because sometimes we can talk like in a vacuum, but let’s bring it down to people that we know Oprah is arguably one of the best entrepreneurs, but Oprah has a coach. Michael Jordan was the one of the best entrepreneurs, but Oprah has a coach. Michael Jordan was one of the greatest, but Michael Jordan has maybe more than one coach. You know Serena Williams, simone Biles, all the greats, michael Phelps they didn’t just become greats. Muhammad Ali, mike Tyson they didn’t become great on their own. They all had a coach. And I used to take kickboxing and I used to teach kickboxing. So I know that even the best boxer, when the round is over, goes back to his corner. What is his coach telling him? His coach is telling him you can do it. You get this, even with the best boxer. So I need us to again remember that, no matter how bad you’re feeling, somebody tells you chin up. You know words matter. So willpower is good, mindset is good, but it’s not enough.

Dr. Lulu: 

We all need a cheerleader on our side. That’s why a basketball team has a cheerleading squad. I mean not because the girls are not going to play the game, but they’re there to tell them we got you. You know, keep going. A little toddler who wants to take the first step. When the child falls, the mother doesn’t say you deserve it, you should fall, not the one that said oh, you know what, you did great. We all need a cheerleader. So that’s why, when you’re like you said, when you’re feeling down and someone tells you you got this when I was in Nigeria, I didn’t know the phrase imposter syndrome.

Dr. Lulu: 

When I was a younger version of me, as a matter of fact, when I opened my first practice, I didn’t really recognize that that’s what it’s called. But there’s this thing called negativity bias, which is where your brain seeks to catastrophize everything and go for all the yeah, I mean, you know I got 98%, which is a straight A, but I got 2% wrong and I’m focusing on the 2% right. So it’s just that tendency for us to catastrophize. You get hundreds of positive comments on your post and you got two that say something negative and you’re focused on those two. So it’s that same negativity bias. It’s definitely an upward hill battle for everyone every day to stay in that positive and and so when you have friends or neighbors or coaches or colleagues who hold your hand and say you know what I got you. We need that, we all need that.

Rita Suzanne: 

If you don’t have a coach or someone else, are there some strategies or techniques or anything that you recommend that someone would do in order to help kind of counteract those negative thoughts, that someone might be kind of dealing with that negativity, I think?

Dr. Lulu: 

self-awareness is key. You know, awareness is everything. You know. There’s a song that says you’ve got to know when to hold and when to run away, when to stay. It’s true, but that’s self-awareness. That’s knowing yourself. When is it to thy own self be true. Self-awareness, that’s knowing yourself. When is it to thy own self be true. Now, you know, anybody can have the self-belief and have even the willpower. Oh yeah, I’m going to be the greatest boxer. That’s good, but with that you got to train like crazy, right. So, knowing that this is what I want, but this is how I’m going to get it. And so if you don’t have a coach, you don’t have a friend. There are books out there, right. There are podcasts out there, but all of those things will still stop at the door of self-awareness. Self-awareness in the sense that are you able to be truthful to yourself enough to say, listen, I need help. And then, where can I find it?

Dr. Lulu: 

When my child told me that she was transgender many, I don’t know three years ago, I laid in my couch for three weeks in fetal position, just feeling sorry for myself or woeismecom, and all that. It was the same me that said you know what? I can’t be the only one who is going through this. There must be other parents out there. Let me go find them. And I couldn’t find anyone. So I started a Facebook group and I said, okay, well, there’s this Facebook group. If you’re a parent, you know, you come on in or whatever. So but I had to get to the point where I was like laying on this couch is not going to help me. That’s self-awareness. And then, okay, then what do I need to do next? Or, better still, who do I need to find?

Dr. Lulu: 

And so one of the books by Dan Sullivan is called who, not how. It’s one of my favorite books who, not how? Because we’re taught in school. The premise of the book is like we’re taught in school to figure out how to solve the mathematical problem, how to climb rocks, how to lose. But what he’s saying is why don’t you just figure out who can help you figure it out? Because we need each other. So, coming back to how not that we should depend on people, but just recognizing that there’s someone out there who can teach me how to do this yeah, so let me find the person.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, I love that. So when your, when your child came to you and you decided to try to connect with other parents did were, was it hard for you to find other parents to connect with, or did you find it like after so you created a Facebook group or a group or something to connect with them. How did that work work? How did that happen?

Dr. Lulu: 

I mean we’re four years I mean three, maybe four years strong. Now I’m about 2,000 parents, who are about 2,500. Then my own Facebook account, my personal account, go half and so I’ve been out for I don’t know three years. And then I came back last year. I’ve been out for I don’t know three years and then I came back last year I was like maybe I’ll get another Facebook account. It’s hard period to find anyone in that realm today because there’s just nobody knows who to trust. It’s not safe, I mean. So it’s hard. It’s harder to find Black parents.

Rita Suzanne: 

Because there’s so much not accepting.

Dr. Lulu: 

Yeah, I mean the culture is really toxic, is really anti, is really homophobic, is really anti-LGBT. Religion is a big deal in the Black community and religion as we know today is, for the most part, still anti-LGBT. And just culture and between culture and religion. I mean that’s pretty much, it’s right there. So the Black community, both in America and outside America, are still heavily America and outside America, are still heavily mentally colonized. They’re still heavily mentally colonized.

Dr. Lulu: 

There’s nothing wrong with Christianity no-transcript cultism. So Christianity is functionally a cult. A cult is a group of people who have the same way of thinking and you can’t really grow when you have group think. We need diversity of thought to grow. We need that and that means allow the short people to speak, allow the tall people to speak, allow the light-skinned people to speak, allow the dark-skinned people to speak, allow everyone to feel like they belong and they have a say.

Dr. Lulu: 

If somebody feels threatened, they don’t belong. If someone feels less than they don’t belong. If someone feels less than they don’t belong, if someone feels that they need to fit in, they don’t belong. And I learned about the fit in from I don’t know who, mel Robbins, I think. I’m not sure if it was Mel, that said something about not looking for where to fit in, because fitting in means, yes, you feel squeezed, I’m just gonna get in here because this is the space that I can get in, but really it should be about a place where you can just soar in all of you, and religion as we know it today doesn’t allow that, and it’s not just for LGBT people, it’s for women as well.

Dr. Lulu: 

I mean, I’m Catholic. Today, women can still not be priests in the Catholic church. Why, I mean, where did that rule come from? What makes, if you go into schools, women are more academically gifted, women are more of everything than men. Yet we have a society that’s 90 of leaders today are still men. So what are we saying? If academically and other emotionally, women are more superior? What’s wrong with the system that is still saying women should wear a hijab and cover the whole face, that you can’t see them, except they can’t even their eyes. They have to have a net.

Dr. Lulu: 

Now again, come back to religion and whose idea? Who makes the rules Men? So it’s very entangled, to say the very least. If it’s not LGBT today, it’s women. If it’s not women, it’s children. If it’s not children, it’s blue eyes. If it’s not women, it’s children. If it’s not children, it’s blue eyes. I mean the Amish same thing. It’s just all these rules that we’re making for each other. I mean, at one point we have to. I don’t know if we’re ever going to go deep and look into where did it first come from?

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, well, it’s got to be very hard for the child too, right, because a lot of times the parents are abandoning them, right, because they’re not really agreeing with their choice or their lifestyle, right, and then I feel like that’s probably, uh, that’s a big issue too, because then they’re left alone and then the parents, you know, um, the parents feel justified based on their, I guess, cultural or religious beliefs. Um, I, mean.

Dr. Lulu: 

I think that the two things that you said incorrectly are choice and lifestyle. Neither of them is correct. Neither of those two terms are correct, but people use it all the time. The choice that the child made is to tell the parent Right. The choice that the child made, or rather, the decision that was made, was to choose to tell the parents Right, but I always go back to ask people who are heterosexual when did they make the choice to be heterosexual? What is the heterosexual lifestyle? We know for a fact that majority of lgbt people are actually bisexual, like me, right, and so I was living with my ex-husband, I was married for 13 years, and to everybody else, it was a heterosexual couple. But was it, though, because I’m not heterosexual? I’m bisexual, and so let’s go back to when? Did you whoever is asking the question, calling it a choice, calling it whatever? They did, even the parent themselves, if you go back as far as their knowledge? My dad told me he thought it was a phase. That’s another thing that people say Now let’s just go back.

Dr. Lulu: 

My dad only knew what he knew because he’s not LGBT. And so if somebody is not LGBT, they cannot have a say. If you’re not Black, I don’t care if all your friends are Black, all your children are Black, everybody in your neighborhood is Black. You’re still not Black. So you can never have a say about Blackness. Same thing with queerness If someone is not queer, you can think all you want about what you think it is. Accept the person who is, don’t have a say. And so I keep coming back to even my own child, who is transgender. I don’t have a say because I’m not transgender. I don’t know what it’s like to be transgender and also as a being of sound mind and body, I know that no one in today’s world will say let me see, of all the things I can be, I want to be transgender Because it’s fun.

Dr. Lulu: 

Nobody is attacking them, they’re not getting killed, you know? Yeah, that sounds like something I would choose. Mm-hmm, I get what you’re saying, Right, and so I mean, but it’s life and death for these people. If it’s not suicide, it’s homicide. If it’s not homicide, it’s homelessness. If it’s not homelessness, it’s multi-drug abuse. If it’s not multi-drug abuse, or multi-substance, or what they call police substance abuse disorder, because that’s a new term. He’s been sexually assaulted. Oh, I’m going to fuck you straight. I’m going to. You know, make sure that I’m going to rape you so you can know what it’s like to be with a man. Nobody in their right mind will see this quote unquote, easy way over here.

Dr. Lulu: 

Let me take this hard way, right? I know that when parents choose to not affirm their kids because at that point it’s a choice choose to affirm their kids, I have to believe that they don’t know any better, right? That’s why I help those who do want to learn. Everyone is not my client. The parents who does not want to affirm their child is not my client, because my business is to help parents who want to affirm their kids, and so I show you how to start and how I started. But if you don’t want to, then we don’t have a conversation. Now I feel bad for the child, but I can’t say to everybody, no matter how good Amazon is, one of the most successful businesses in the world, everything is not on Amazon. There’s still some things that Amazon doesn’t have, and so you can go to Amazon, but you won’t find it there, and so I want the people to understand that. The parents who do want to, I can help you, because what I do is help you.

Dr. Lulu: 

Go back to your own self. Where did you first learn about the LGBTQ plus community? Was it from an LGBTQ plus person or was it not? And if it wasn’t, then we’re back to square one. Then neither of you know what you’re talking about.

Dr. Lulu: 

So here is this child who is indeed LGBT, and I’m not saying your child should teach you, but I’m saying your child will show you that this is not something that a lot of parents feel guilt, that maybe they did something wrong. Well, the truth is, your child will still be gay. Whether this particular child will still be gay, whether they were born by you or born by another parent, the child is designated gay and so, whether they were born by Suzanne or Dr Lulu, they would still be gay. So it’s not a Suzanne thing. Then again, a lot of times, parents are themselves LGBT, as a matter of fact, but they have not been able to live authentically and so they don’t want their child to live authentically. Because that was me Right A lot of people will never they’ll go to their graves as LGBT because coming back to religion doesn’t allow them or you know whatever custom. Luckily for us, the next couple of generations, the Gen Z, the millennials, the gender of us they are more tolerant.

Dr. Lulu: 

They are more accepting. They are almost all queer. I mean, the last study that was done in 2017 said 52% of millennials and Gen Z-ers are actually not straight, and the reason we’re seeing that is because representation matters so much that the more you see something when you have color in your hair, it’s because you saw someone who had color in their hair. You didn’t just imagine it, you saw it, and so that’s representation. So I see someone who’s living down this day. I’m like you know what? I’m gay too. That’s why the Me Too movement Me Too, I was also insulted. Me Too, I’m also gay. And so the next generation, they see more. So you end up. That’s how it grows and that is why today there’s all the anti-LGBT well, really more anti-transgender laws, but once upon a time, in the 70s, it was anti-gay laws. Like, you couldn’t even be gay. So we have to see how history always repeats itself unless we learn. And so once upon a time, gays were not even allowed to be gay, which is why the whole Stonewall thing happened in 69, the year that I was born. Stonewall happened in 69. So now, okay, y’all can be gay In fact, y’all can be married but you can’t be trans. So there’s always well you know what Women you can’t even have abortions anymore, like there’s always someone. If you go back and trace the origin of the laws, it’s not women, right, that are saying women can’t have abortions. It’s not LGBT people that are saying people can’t be LGBT. It’s not trans people saying people cannot be trans. So why do they feel threatened? They feel threatened because they themselves cannot live authentically in their own lives, whether that’s as gay or as whatever.

Dr. Lulu: 

And man, I mean. We go back to kindergarten. The little boy who picks on the little girl is usually the boy who likes the little girl yeah. But he doesn’t know how to tell her he likes her. So he’s gonna make life miserable for her. But that’s not the way. It shouldn’t be that way. She just fuck up courage and tell the girl and she doesn’t like you. She doesn’t like you, yeah. Or make yourself like right.

Rita Suzanne: 

When you were. When you say you were in the fetal position and you were, you know, for that moment trying to reconcile what was going on in you know, with your child and I and your child and with yourself. Is that correct?

Dr. Lulu: 

Because I knew that the society was going to think I groomed the child because I’m queer myself and I know that I’m queer myself, and so I knew that that was going to be the automatic. Number one. Is that, well, she’s a single mom? Oh, yeah, she definitely. Somehow. Son, let me show you how to be a girl. Like yeah, I have nothing else to do. Let me teach my child how to be gay. Right, like, seriously. Or number two they’re going to say, um, or really, truly.

Dr. Lulu: 

Because I knew that the world is very, very anti-transgender women, especially Black transgender women, I was like, oh my God, I don’t want this future for my child. No parent is like, yeah, sure, let me go put my child in kindergarten. No, you put the child in kindergarten. But you’re like, oh, what’s going to happen? Are they going to get bullied? You know it’s a normal reaction for every parent. It’s fear-related. Or going to kindergarten, or going to prom, or going on the first date, it’s all the same thing. All parents think the same, especially a parent who’s Nigerian, coming from a world where it’s so frowned upon. Not that America is pro, because people forget this oh, you’re Nigerian.

Dr. Lulu: 

How is that having a child who’s trans? Oh, you’re American. How is that having a child who’s trans?

Rita Suzanne: 

Doesn’t matter, Right, but it’s different. I mean culturally it’s different.

Dr. Lulu: 

Difference. Hatred does not have a difference. True, true, very true. It’s maybe people in a different land and location, but hatred is the same. It’s the same color. It’s a dark ugly, brown ugly, I don’t know the color, but for for me hatred is an ugly gray. It’s not clean. I know people think that In my country, as a matter of fact, we don’t have guns to just walk into a mall and shoot people. So now I’m safer in my country in a sense, because they don’t just walk up to someone and just kill them, because, oh, all the trans women you hear that I’ve killed are usually shot. I’ve never heard of one trans woman that was shot in nigeria. So it’s safer actually. But people don’t want to think that. They want to think, oh, it’s africa, so it must be worse. No, that’s why I?

Dr. Lulu: 

go back to reducing it to just the word hatred. However, you manifest the hatred, whether it’s by shooting someone that’s just walking down the street, being themselves. Somebody was stabbed 17 times for twerking at the gas station. That didn’t happen in Nigeria, that happened in New York. So I want to remind people. It just happened that that person was Black and gay. So that’s why I was in a fetal position, because the world is not safe for my child. I can’t protect my child.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, it’s very scary, scary. But you know, I’m glad that you were able to transition from that and just turn it into something that was able to help other parents and you’re now in a, in a place where you stopped being a pediatrician and now your focus is on helping other parents and you have a podcast. You right, you have a podcast coming out. Yes, I have a podcast coming out.

Dr. Lulu: 

Yes, I have a podcast called Moms for Trans Kids. We’ve been doing this for about eight months now. We have about 32 episodes, which is why I’m thinking eight times four is 32, whatever the number is, we have about 32 episodes. We have episode 33 this week. We do have a Moms for Trans Kids podcast, but also, just going back to what you said, I think I decided a while back that I can also. I can help one parent at a time, or I can help a bunch of parents at a time, and so the Facebook group was part of that dream. But now, like we’re talking about before we went live, I’m focusing a little bit more on LinkedIn and I’ve gotten about half a dozen corporate gigs through LinkedIn where organizations are asking me to come and actually teach the organization, and I like that better. Number one it pays better, but number two two also, I can come and teach them how to be allies right like a broader awareness.

Dr. Lulu: 

Not for that, not which is kind of funny not for the queer people only, but for their parents as well. Because you see, you don’t know until your child tells you and your parents are queer child. And so everybody who’s listening to me today is like oh well, that’s not me, you don’t know because what? What lgbt people have done is they’ve mastered the act of hiding their true self, and so anybody could be a parent of a queer child, and so I figured, by working with the organizations, I can help them just understand. What is it? What does it mean for your child, for your child to be LGBT, because I used to be that child and I want to now, for you to be a parent of that child, because now I am you the parent of the child. So I figured I could do that broadly without having to anybody having to raise their hands. I am a parent. There’s no need. I’ll just talk to all of y’all to know what to keep an eye out for.

Dr. Lulu: 

What do you do and how do you make your home safe so that your child can tell you Because my child didn’t tell me until they were 22, because my home was not considered safe by my kid, and what your child considers safe is different from what my child considers safe. In my home I made sure that every time we’re watching at an america’s top model, we were like, oh, why does he have to be so gay, why does he have to so? So when your child hears things like that in your mind, you’re not thinking, you’re saying anything, you’re, why does it have to be so? So when your child hears things like that in your mind, you’re not thinking, you’re saying anything, you’re just making it for fun. But not if your child is gay, right? So that’s what I mean.

Dr. Lulu: 

And then other people might be oh, religion, you know? Oh, my god, this, that, that when your child hears that, and they’re like, ooh, I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to go to hell or I don’t want the Bible thrown at me, I don’t want to get kicked out. So again, every home has the potential of having a child who’s LGBT, every home. So my job is to show you the things to say, the things to do, how to think, such that you are creating a safe oasis for your child or maybe even for your spouse. I met Holly a couple of months ago. Holly is in Pennsylvania. At the conference that I spoke at, holly came out to her wife after 39 years of marriage.

Dr. Lulu: 

That had to be her yeah, came out as transgender to her wife. After 39 years, to this day, they haven’t told their daughter yet, because they don’t think their daughter is going to take it well. So, I don’t know what well means One of them has. They haven’t told one of their kids. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, but I just see, because Wally literally came out and she’s like I’ve known since I was five.

Rita Suzanne: 

Wow, I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine.

Dr. Lulu: 

So the safety is not only for parents of a queer child. It could be for the wife of a queer person.

Rita Suzanne: 

It could be for the husband of a queer person.

Dr. Lulu: 

I met a for the wife of a queer person. It could be for the husband of a queer person. I met a lot of people. Once you start doing the work, it just starts opening up. I spoke to someone who has a podcast last week and they were a child of a pastor the most Bible-tomping, homophobic pastor ever. They haven’t seen their parents in years. Wow they already know that their parents aren’t going to accept them.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yes, right, that’s what I mean. That’s what I mean by it has to be hard, because their parents are just going. They already know their parents are going to turn their back on them and just before they even make that decision to say anything, they already know, right. They just and that is probably what brings that fear and in why they hold it in for so long, and that has to be really hard to live with.

Dr. Lulu: 

Yeah, one of my friends. Now. You see, now you understand why there’s an uptick in mental health, there’s an uptick in substance abuse, there’s an uptick in running away, there’s an uptick in suicide, because they’re not. It’s very difficult. I mean, just imagine, you know, for someone who is not LGBT. Obviously there’s nothing I can use to compare, obviously there’s nothing I can use to compare, but the best way I can compare it to is a woman who is married in an abusive home and cannot live, because technically, that’s what it is. It is trauma and there’s no other way to explain it, except you are with this person and you are a prisoner, because that’s what it is and the only way for you to understand it is to literally be the person. But the next best thing is to be able to imagine that you’re the person living in this, in in a cellar somewhere.

Dr. Lulu: 

I don’t like using the word coming out, I prefer using inviting in. So my second about that, just talking about how you don’t really have to come out to anyone. But you can invite people into your queer world if they earn the invitation and therefore you reserve the right to rescind the invitation and therefore you reserve the right to rescind the invitation and therefore you reserve the right to upgrade them to VIP. You are the host, it’s your party, and that way the queer people can have a different way to look at their queerness as a beautiful thing, and you hand out invitations only to people that deserve it. And so I didn’t deserve to know, because I was not safe to my kid, even as I was living with my ex-wife at that time. We were not completely oblivious to this transgender thing. However, I knew in my heart that my kid was probably gay, as a matter of fact she was like I don’t know, I’m not sure, mom.

Dr. Lulu: 

I was like, oh, thank you Jesus. But I knew in my heart and you know that’s the self-awareness. When I come back to self-awareness, you know in your heart you can lie all you want, but you know in your heart, the heart always knows.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah so I that’s all I got. Connie, I love this. I think it’s such an important topic because I think that, like you said, there needs to be more allies. People need to really accept other people for who they are, no matter who they are, and accepting your own self.

Dr. Lulu: 

That’s the only way to accept somebody else. I have to first accept myself as I am.

Rita Suzanne: 

Correct, and I love every part of that. And so tell everyone where you are, how they can find you and you know how they can stay in touch with you.

Dr. Lulu: 

So my practice is called Atolulu’s Coaching and Consulting Lounge and it has three branches. The first branch is the Pride Corner, which is a practice. It’s a coaching and consulting practice of gender and sexuality affirming, coaching and consulting. So that’s one that I work with families, helping them navigate their thoughts about being a parent of a queer child, their thoughts about being a family of a queer child. How do you navigate that? That’s Dr Lulu’s Pride Corner. Then I have my ABC program, which is Allied Bridge Connection Program.

Dr. Lulu: 

That’s the one that I work with organizations to become allies, to build a bridge to their LGBT employees, to the parents of LGBT kids that are employees, helping them basically shine. Because you see, if I don’t think my place of work is safe, I won’t bring my child to work. If we have gendered bathrooms, which bathroom is my child going to use? If my co-workers are openly homophobic, I’ll never bring my kid to work. So what I’m doing is helping them recognize that they can be allies. For the parents who are employees Is an employee retention tool, Is an employee acquisition tool, Is an employee attraction tool, If I know that that organization treats LGBT people right. So I know that my child is safe in the organization. And then the third one is Allies in White Coats. So I’m all about allyship. So my Allies in White Coats program is my favorite one, actually believe it or not, because I work with medical students and residents and physicians and healthcare professionals. So Allies in white coat, so I have two adjunct professional positions where I teach at medical schools, helping the residents understand what it’s like to be the safe person for their patients, because there’s a huge health inequity. There’s a huge health inequity in the queer space. As a matter of fact, last week I made a post on Facebook and I came under attack in a doctor’s group because some of the doctors in there were like well, well, well, is this group now an activist group? Well, well, well, you know. And I’m like wait, if you think an innocent post from a pediatrician who is queer, whose child is trans, is a work of activism, then great, because you should be an activist for your marginalized patients Period, you know. And then yesterday one of the people in the group said I’m openly transgender, a doctor just like me, and it breaks my heart to read some of these comments. Another doctor is transgender. So again, it’s about safety. If your doctor’s office is not safe, even your employees who are queer will not feel safe. It’s not even only about your patients, so it’s a big, far-reaching.

Dr. Lulu: 

I think I’m trying to be bold and do everything but, believe it or not, each of those three branches of my business are intersectional identities that I hold. I have a company of my own, so I fall in the ABC program. I’m a parent, so I fall in my Pride Corner program. And I’m a physician, and when I went to medical school, like I said, I wasn’t taught anything about the queer community, except there’s a mental illness. They were mentally ill, so I couldn’t come out if I must use that word in medical school because, oh my God, I was in Nigeria. I’m a girl, Are you kidding me? So there’s a lot to be said about deciding to do this work now. I can’t believe that. There’s time, Every moment I waste thinking about it, there’s a child who’s thinking about jumping to their death. Every moment I waste thinking about it, there’s a doctor misgendering their patient and the patient is never going to come back. Every moment I spend wasting time, there’s an employee being bullied for being gay. So I wish there were more people like me.

Rita Suzanne: 

Yeah, that’s why. That’s why this it’s such an important conversation to have, and so and I appreciate you taking the time and coming on here and being so open and and and really just sharing your story. It’s been such a pleasure and I’m going to put all of your information below and whatever I can do to support you, please let me know.

Dr. Lulu: 

I appreciate it. I mean this is plenty. This is the start. I usually tell a story because I also dabbled in comedy, and I tell a story where, when my child was very young, I told my mom. I said I thought the kid was gay. And my mom was like, oh my God, get the holy water. Get the holy water because we’re Catholic. And then, as the child was growing, I started asking God. I said God, why me? Why me? What the fuck already Like really, of all the things you could give to me is a gay child. Why me? The things you could give to me is a gay child. Why me? And then god said why not you? Why not you?

Dr. Lulu: 

You say yourself, proclaim, speaker, author, all these things, why not you? Who do you think I’m gonna send? So what I say is god, and I decided that, since I’m going to do the work, god will send me people like you and other people like Rita and Joe or whoever, to help me spread the message, because we need each other. Like we said at the beginning, people need people, and so you coming into my sphere was not a coincidence. It needed to happen so that I can get the word out to people who listen to your show, and so, as far as I’m concerned, I said to God okay, I’ll do it as long as you promise me I’m not going to do it alone, because it’s a lot of work to do.

Rita Suzanne: 

It’s a lot to put on one person, right? Yeah, okay, well, thank you so much. I um, I appreciate it and thank you. Thank you again.

Dr. Lulu: 

It’s been you’re very welcome. You’re very welcome, thank you.

Rita Suzanne: 

And there you have it. I want to encourage you to remember that being a mom who runs her own business is not easy. We all struggle, but just keep moving forward. And don’t forget to make time for yourself. As moms we are usually the first thing to go to the bottom of the list. If your business is overwhelming you and you need real solutions, not just some sugar coated suggestions apply to work with me at ritasuzanne.com/apply

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