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But many gay advocates suggest that even if parents are accepting, they should never ask point-blank about sexual orientation.
That's what triggered Kristin Russo's announcement that she was bisexual at a Thanksgiving dinner.
An organization is raising funds for an online resource for parents of LGBT youth.
Everyone is Gay, a website that gives advice to young people on areas like dating and coming out, is expanding its audience to include parents.
Even if she had, the few books available may have made her mother feel worse, not better.
Their approach was largely clinical and gloomy, and they escorted parents through a grieving process and toward acceptance, as if their child had been diagnosed with a disease.
When Kristin Russo came out at the age of 17, her Catholic mother withdrew – for a short spell, anyway. Like many parents of gay kids, Rose Russo was struggling to reconcile her daughter's sexuality with her own religious life. She spoke with her priest, who advised her that "under no circumstances should she close her door to her daughter or anyone else important in her life", Russo remembers her mother recounting.It was only when her mother started meeting Russo's girlfriends that she began fully accepting her daughter's identity.Based on their experiences, Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid in 2010 started a support organization for young adults called Everyone Is Gay."I think she was just wanting it to go away," Russo says.As far as Russo, who is now 33, knows, in those pre-Google days Rose never went to the library to find books on parenting gay teens.