As parents, it’s our job to support our kids. Knowing there’s someone who loves them unconditionally is proven to keep our kids safe, which is even more vital for kids who are part of the LGBTQ community. John Wyatt knows this, and he recently went viral on TikTok for showing support for his teen son, 15-year-old Caden, by hanging a Pride flag, despite what others in the community may think. Here’s what happened.
On June 6, John posted a video to his TikTok profile of a family milestone. For the first time in their lives, and likely the first time in the neighborhood they call home, the Wyatt family hung a Pride flag outside their home to celebrate Pride Month.
“We are fixin’ to shock Oklahoma,” John said in the video, showing the neighbors where they stand on the subject. It doesn’t seem like it should be a big statement. Still, according to a 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll, 36 percent of people in Oklahoma were opposed to same-sex marriage. The state holds some harmful laws that forbid the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools.
There have been pre-teen kids threatened with harm for disclosing they are transgender. Oklahoma has even passed a bill legally banning any diversity training, so it’s safe to say the state isn’t a source of welcome for LGBTQ+ kids — and that parents have to fill in the gap.
And that’s what makes John’s public show of support so big. He’s giving a big middle finger to the people who hold biases and telling them he will forever support his son. Caden first came out just over a year ago, and his dad was by his side the entire time. It’s weird to applaud a parent for doing the minimum – supporting their kid no matter what. But this is a little bigger than that because John is supporting without hesitation – loudly and proudly.
In the TikTok video, which has been seen by millions, Lady Gaga’s “Born this way” song plays in the background while Caden helps his dad hang a flagpole on the front of their house. The “ally flag,” which has the letter A in rainbow colors on a background of black and white stripes, is a message to the community.
Reply to @hunterytho Black and White Bars: Represents heterosexual and/or cisgender people. We are our sons biggest allies.
“I want people to know that my parents have their back, and so do I,” Caden said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “We’re letting people know it’s a safe place,” John said. “I’m not trying to cause any controversy in the neighborhood, but maybe there’s some person out there who will see that flag and smile and feel safe.”
The Trevor Project, a not-for-profit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA+ youth, published a report highlighting the estimates of how often LGBTQIA+ young people in the United States attempt suicide. The results showed that “least one LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13–24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S.” On top of this, studies have shown how instrumental support and acceptance from parents are in helping reduce suicide rates among the LGBTQ youth populations.
So, while John’s act of allyship may seem small, it’s anything but not only because 1.7 million people watched the video on TikTok, but people in the community where they live know there’s a space that’s safe if they need it – and that people care.