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Meet Jaron Terry

This month, the Mama Bear we are highlighting is Jaron Terry, who is celebrating 10 years with Mama Bears this fall! We are truly grateful to have her as a part of our community.

We are so thankful that she shared her Mama Bears experience with us. We are excited for you to learn more about her!

Why did you originally join the Mama Bears online group?

When our then college-age child came out in February 2013, my husband and I felt so alone – we didn’t know where to turn. We thought our church of 25+ years – where our child was baptized and raised – would be supportive, but no. When we met with the pastor to offer to lead a small group for parents of LGBTQ+ kids to discuss Adam Hamilton’s book, Making Sense of the Bible, we were told “Not here, not now, not ever.” We had to leave the church behind and the people whom I thought were our friends. We were shunned like we were contagious, and it was very lonely to lose the community in which we had been so active. Please understand, we didn’t leave the church because our child is LGBTQ+ – we left the church because of the bigotry of many people there and the doctrine.  Nearly 18 months later, when a local Mama Bear told me about Liz Dyer’s online group for mothers who love and affirm their LGBTQ+ children, I was eager to hear more.

How has Mama Bears positively impacted your life?

In October 2014 I reached out to Liz’s online group, which she founded in June 2014, and received a warm welcome. Finally, after a year and half on my own, I found a community of mothers who embraced me – and my family. They confirmed my belief that there is nothing wrong with my child, who was born LGBTQ+ and whose wonderful and loving spirit are a gift to all. I realized I was not alone in grieving the hopes I’d dreamed for my child’s life from before conception, and that the “script” I’d held of love and family was still valid – I just needed to recast the characters! The impact of being a Mama Bear has been positive in so many ways, propelling me into advocacy and activism for equality for the entire LGBTQ+ community, including my child. With the encouragement and support of the Mama Bears, I stepped up to lead the PFLAG chapter in my community, which I’ve been doing for nine years. My husband and I march in the Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade and show up at the Ohio Statehouse to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and to speak out against harmful legislation. I write letters to the editor as well as to elected officials urging them to do the right thing. We financially support many LGBTQ+ causes, including Stonewall Columbus where our now 30-something child is president of the board.

What does it mean to you to be a Mama Bear?

Being a Mama Bear means so much – aside from being a wife and mother, it’s my primary identity and means that I stand for love.  That love flows in two directions. That is, love flows into me so that I never feel alone. Liz says we are better together and she’s right – any hour of any day there are moms online, ready to lift one another up and remind one another of what matters most: love. In addition, love flows through and out of me to embrace and affirm members of the LGBTQ+ community. I always wear something that visually says “I love and support LGBTQ+” whether it’s my shirt, a hat or the armful of rainbow bracelets I’m never without. I believe that very often the closet door is a revolving door – when kids come out, parents go in. That’s why it’s important that parents – moms and dads – see my outward display of love. They might not ask me directly what or why, but when they peek out of their closet door, I want them to see a rainbow of love. 

What compelled you to join the Mama Bears Giving Circle?

When Liz Dyer introduced the Giving Circle, I joined because it just made so much sense to me and because all that love she’s created among the Mama Bears has to flow somewhere! And the Giving Circle sets the “better together” in motion when we are all pulling in the same direction. I’m so glad Liz offers this way for Mama Bears all over the world to uplift organizations that are on the front lines in this fight for equality for the LGBTQ+ community and for our own children. 

Did any of the nonprofits in the current giving circle specifically stand out to you or have a special importance to you? 

All of the nonprofit organizations supported by the Giving Circle are worthy and I trust Liz Dyer’s instinct and research in identifying the organizations for Mama Bears to support. Of course, the Kaleidoscope Youth Center is very close to my heart as it’s in my own community – in fact it was the first place I reached out to when I began looking to lend a hand. To have the Giving Circle support the much-needed, important work they do in helping LGBTQ+ youth feel loved and supported – in both emotional and practical ways – means so much to me.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the Mama Bears community?

I want to express my gratitude. I’m most grateful, of course to Liz Dyer for starting the Mama Bears, but I also want to thank each one of the mothers who have joined the group. Some join frightened, beaten down emotionally by the religious organizations they were taught to lean on. Some join angry, ready to virtually burn down the establishments – religious and political – that seek to extinguish the joy and – in many cases – the very lives of our children. Some join numb, exhausted and bewildered by the vitriol from their own family members – grandparents and siblings – who shower blame on them for birthing and loving their LGBTQ+ child. And some join fully affirming and ready to share their knowledge and strength. But most of all I thank those who never left the group. The vast majority of those who join never leave because the Mama Bears is not a roadside stop for respite and repair, but a place of belonging, caring, and loving. Mothers become Mama Bears through the strength of others and by finding their own inner power. We are most beautiful when our fangs are bare, our claws are out, and we are ready to roar our defense and love for our own LGBTQ+ children and the LGBTQ+ community.

Share your story!

If you or a Mama Bear you know is interested in being our Spotlight Mama of the month, we would love to connect! Please note that Spotlight Mamas may be anonymous if this makes the person sharing their story more comfortable. It is important to us that we honor the privacy of those in our community. To get involved please email Juliana Jordan at We appreciate you sharing your journeys with us!

Join the Mama Bears Giving Circle!