There’s a woman that works in my coffee shop. She happens to be transgender. We’ve talked a bunch of times I go there a lot because during pandemic it was very close to my house and it was an easy way to get out and move around a little bit, so we’ve gotten to know each other. She has a strained relationship with her parents because of her gender identity. The other day her mother reached out and asked if they could have coffee together. She and I had a quick conversation about it, but kept it brief. She sent me a DM a couple minutes later explaining that she didn’t want to create a situation where I had to talk to the girls about something that we hadn’t discussed yet. I wrote her back, saying that we’d already had that conversation with our children and they have been taught that everyone deserves respect no matter who they are.
Another friend recently relayed a story about childhood bullying because of his suspected sexual orientation. It wasn’t just name calling, though that was part of it. In addition to the hateful words, he was subjected to physical violence. All because they thought maybe he was gay. He hadn’t yet come out and no one knew for sure; they just decided it and decided the answer to that was to beat him to a pulp. He knew he had the talent and determination, all on his own, to be a success. He embraced his differences and used those horrible, unjustified experiences as fuel for his internal fire.
Yesterday, I took a yoga class on Peloton. I like the instructor; I like power yoga and this happened to be Pride-themed. It was difficult. There were some poses I just couldn’t do, and he had a number that literally put us off-kilter to make us understand that it’s not always bad to feel out of balance and slightly uncomfortable. His personal theme for the class was about owning your weirdness, your different-ness. He talked about growing up in Texas, feeling different, and how growing your physical strength, watching yourself get stronger and more confident can help us understand what we’re capable of physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
I can never truly understand what it means to be LGBTQ+. I am quite straight and cisgender. But, I think almost everyone can relate to feeling different, to questioning who we are. What I learned from those experiences is that I never want to make other people feel that same way.
As we close out Pride Month, remember that everyone deserves to feel loved, cared about, and respected. My husband and I have taught our girls that we don’t merely tolerate people’s differences, but that we celebrate them. Uniqueness is something to appreciate. The funny thing is, and as cliché as it sounds, when we are able to see people for who they really, truly are, we find our commonalities. The heart of the human condition is just that, love. We all want to be loved.
Happy Pride everyone!