Giving and his mom on the set of The Ellen Show | Photo: Provided/Bryden Giving
Never underestimate the power LGBTI can have on the rest of the world when they’re visible and mainstream — just ask Bryden Giving and his mom.
Giving hails from a small town in Minnesota. He had supportive friends, but no other openly gay people in his life, and he described the experience as ‘solitary’.
When Giving came out to his mother, Michelle, in his senior year of high school, her initial reaction was not unabashed acceptance, but worry. Michelle worried about how he would fit in to society and the hardships he’d face because of his sexuality.
One person who unknowingly helped this process was Ellen DeGeneres.
Giving wrote numerous letters to her show — until, suddenly, the show invited them to a taping in January 2019. What neither of them knew when they took their seats in the audience is that DeGeneres would read aloud one of Giving’s letters and invite them to down to the stage.
In the clip, Giving and his mother touch on their relationship and individual struggles with his coming out.
One of the most uncertain times was when Michelle told her father about Giving’s sexuality. After telling him, Giving’s grandfather had this immediate response: ‘I love Bryden. I love Ellen. She’s gay and I watch her every day!’
It shows how people like DeGeneres can reach those who may not know many (or any) LGBTI people in their real lives.
‘I want to spread hope, warmth, unconditional love’
Giving shared with Gay Star News what this experience truly meant to him.
‘I am very grateful for my experience on the Ellen Show, not only providing my mom with a chance of a lifetime but also for providing me with a unique experience to reflect,’ he said over email.
‘I want to spread hope, warmth, unconditional love, and compassion to my kiddos and their families, much like how Ellen personifies her show every day.’
Going forward, Giving, who is also a photographer, is starting out on his career journey as a pediatric occupational therapist. He hopes to get a doctorate in public health ‘with a focus on equity and social justice’.
DeGeneres is an inspiration in this way for him beyond being an example of a successful, openly gay person.
Giving explained his vision for his future: ‘I want to take my person-centered practice and use it to enact change on a systems-level, similar in methods as to how Ellen spreads her positive messages seamlessly around the globe.’
Crediting the love of his mother, friends, and, yes, Ellen, Giving said it’s ‘now time to give back’.
Son and mom, the best of friends
‘My mom and I are best friends,’ Giving enthused to GSN.
Coming to California included more than going to The Ellen Show. Giving said he’s a ‘massive’ Harry Potter and that his mom also surprised him with a trip to Universal Studios’ Wizarding World.
Following their California adventures, Giving recently moved in with his partner, Zack, and did a family camping trip in Northern Minnesota. He adds his mom ‘absolutely loves’ Zack.
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