Hello, June. It’s Pride Month. You may have overlooked this celebration, given that the world is in such a state of disarray, and you have probably been affected by something, in some way. Can we all agree that 2020 has been a bit of a sh*tshow? Another factor is that you may not even be a member of the LGBT+ community. Fun fact: I am not either.
Last year, I wrote about being a straight mom and LGBT+ ally, and here I am again — to talk more about how that works in a world so consumed with hate and sorrow. Get ready, because it’s about to be straight WHITE mom, gay and black ally, up in here.
“There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s a lot wrong with the world you live in.” –Chris Colfer
Normally, this would be the time I could share where to find local Pride parades and celebrations, but COVID-19 put a damper on that. Maybe you can coordinate a celebratory Zoom call with your best gays, and I hope it includes drinks and just as many drag queens as the parades of non-coronavirus past.
But this post is different. This year is different. With a pandemic still happening, we have been home with our families — or even alone and sad. Many of us have been teaching and working virtually or miserably dealing with the losses of loved ones or jobs. And we are seeing lots of neighbors angry over the continued racial divide and the frequent mistreatment of the black community that doesn’t seem to ever end. With the topic of racial injustice coming at the forefront of so many necessary conversations, this June doesn’t really feel like a time to celebrate the unofficial gay slogan “Love is Love.” Or is it? I have said it before, and I will say it again: Hate has no place here.
“You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.” –Bobby Seale
Hate is hate, period
Whether a person’s hate is toward those of another race or those of a different sexual preference, it often runs the same course of inequality. I have two elementary-aged daughters who are blissfully unaware at this point that some people are uncomfortable with others who are from the LGBT+ communities, let alone that some will hate others because they don’t have the same skin color. As they get older, the questions have become more inquisitive but never judgmental. I teach them not to be. Read that again: I TEACH THEM NOT TO BE. When my oldest daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time, innocently asked why her friend had brown skin and hers was pink, I explained how hair colors are different and so are skin colors, and that’s what makes life fun. She moved on from ever wondering or pointing out that difference again. Now that is not to say, “My kids don’t see…” or “I don’t see…” COLOR. Because let’s all be honest — yes, we do. And that doesn’t make us racists.
We have to see and acknowledge color, race, and sexuality. We have to in order to ensure that our family, friends, and neighbors are being treated fairly, and with our straight white privilege comes the responsibility to do so. My children are slowly going to have to be taught about race and how it can impact their friends’ lives, and in turn, theirs. The same way that if they are anything but straight, they could face prejudice. Just like the white privilege that allows us to speak louder and have people listen, so does our heterosexuality. Neither one of those is a choice, just something we were born with. We get to use our white privilege and heterosexuality to make changes and stand up to the mainly male politicians making life-or-death decisions for our country.
When turning on the news this past week, it has been hard to unsee the riots mixed in with the peaceful protests. I have heard many say, “Well why are they burning down businesses and kicking in cop cars?” Stop assuming looters and criminals are the protesters. Looters are looters, PROTESTORS ARE PROTESTORS. When you go to make a social media post, do your black friends a favor and don’t add the word “but” to the post. Discrimination is happening in America, every day, in every city and town. It is happening to people who are black. It is happening to people who are gay. It’s happening to those who are trans. It is happening here. People are angry and hurt. That doesn’t mean they are a threat to us or those around them. Do not confuse those who are causing harm with those who are wanting change.
“Small progress is still progress.” –Morgan Harper Nichols
Be more than an ally by taking action
During a celebratory month of Pride that happens to be coinciding with mounting tension right here in our nation, it is actually time to be more than an ally. It is time to take action. Vote. Call your local government officials. Talk to your children in an age-appropriate way about what is going on. Use books to educate yourself and them about anything you just may not know how to discuss.
When you know better, you do better. You may not be black, you may not be a lesbian, but you can be a person who makes a difference. This doesn’t just end when the hashtags go away. We have to be more than just supporters; we have to be active to help people and communities who are so unfairly targeted and mistreated every day. We can become people who help make the changes that are so desperately needed so that our children become better than this.