By Jen Blair
Each time I think about the origins and growth of the Mama Dragons, I am in awe. Over a few short years, in different places across the country, Mormon women were each approaching the issue of the LGBTQ and LDS intersection on their own. Each was prayerfully reaching the same conclusion: to love, support, and protect the LGBTQ people they were coming into contact with.
In May of 2013, one of those women, Meg Abhau, coined the term “Mama Dragon” on her blog to describe herself as a mom who was prepared to defend her gay teen at all costs. This blog post was shared across social media in groups like Mormons Building Bridges and LDS Family Fellowship. Several people commented that they were also mama dragons in defending their LGBTQ children.
Gina Crivello was one of these. She had gotten approval to form a GSA at American Fork High School in Utah to begin in the fall of 2013. Several months into the school year, one of Gina’s GSA members sought her help. Gina sought the advice of some of the mother’s she had come to know through the Mormons Building Bridges and LDS Family Fellowship groups.
She started a private message on Facebook with Meg Abhau (Phoenix, AZ), Wendy Montgomery (Bakersfield, CA), Jill Rowe (Draper, UT), and Christy Cottle (Boise, ID). More moms were added to contribute to the conversation and by the end of December the private message thread also included Yvette Zobell (Salt Lake City, UT), Vicki Johnson (Phoenix, AZ), Liz Deane (Oakley, UT), and Pamela Weyman (Saratoga Springs, UT).
Tears, laughter, and raw vulnerability were the baseline for the hours they spent in conversation. Each woman was able to lend and seek support during their private journeys with their LGBTQ children. They were able to understand the unique challenges that were associated with this LDS intersection. They built friendships and trust and offered unconditional support as their children made decisions and as each family also navigated faith in new ways. On January 23, 2014, Gina decided to create a Facebook group as conversations in the long message thread were getting difficult to track. She called this secret group the Mama Dragon Council. In addition to those listed above, Neca Allgood (Syracuse, UT), Diane Oviatt (Moraga, CA), Christy Searle (Manteca, CA), Nancy Meyers, (Rockwell, TX), Leslie Cordon (Syracuse, UT), Becky Ransom (Mill Creek, WA), and Sara Cook (Mesa, AZ) were by then participating in the message thread and were added to the secret group that first day.
At the time of this blog writing (just over 2 years later), our group is about 850 women. The growth has been organic and beautiful. When we receive requests from those who are not appropriate for the Mama Dragon group, we are generally able to help them find other groups that will help fill their needs.
The Mama Dragons have been able to do some really amazing things to help raise funds, provide housing, support loved ones, attend funerals, and much more. But we primarily remain true to the primary purpose of that original private message thread started by Gina. We provide support, help and encouragement (without judgment) to women who are mothers or “mothering” within the LGBTQ community.
Jen currently lives in Twin Falls, Idaho with her 3 daughters and husband who are incredibly patient with her passion for all things Mama Dragon-ish. Her son is off enjoying college and continuing to be amazing. She serves on the Mama Dragon board currently working with the main Facebook group moderation.