As a queer woman and mother living in Florida, this Pride month feels different than in years past. Typically, June is a time of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community. A celebration of living life as our most authentic selves and of how far we’ve come as a society, while also recognizing how much work and progress still needs to occur. But this year, it feels like so much of that progress has been, and continues to be, reversed.
For the first time, my wife and I hesitated about attending Pride events because we fear for our safety. And rightfully so with the openly hostile political climate here in Florida aimed at the queer community. But it’s not just politicians to blame. On a daily basis lately, social media is flooded with the nastiest of comments trying to villainize families like mine. From keyboard bullies outright calling people like me “groomers” and “child molesters,” to a comment on a post about Disney World’s Gay Days — “We know where to drop the bombs,” it is easy to see why we would be fearful.
I pour absolutely EVERYTHING I have into being the best mom I can be for my children. So, can you imagine how insanely painful it is to hear someone accuse you of being a child molester simply because your kids have two loving mothers?
Then in the next breath, they’ll say, “Why do we need a gay pride month anyway? There isn’t a straight pride month?!” *slaps forehead*
To those of you reading this who may fall under the category of being actively against the LGBTQ community, I beg you to dig deep and really ask yourself why? Is it because that’s how you were raised and you never questioned that belief? Is it because you have friends who feel that way and you just go along with it? Maybe you are influenced by certain politicians who will remain unnamed. Maybe you’ve never had any gay friends, and it’s easier for you to hate what you don’t know. Whatever the reason may be, it’s never too late to change your mind.
I can promise you that we are human beings just like you, trying to live a happy and fulfilling life in peace. We’re not looking for special treatment, just equal rights and some basic dignity.
But why is changing your mind so difficult? Too many people don’t want (or have too much of the other kind of pride) to admit when they were wrong. I think it’s time we normalize proudly having a change of heart after learning new information or having new experiences that alter how we view a topic. In fact, let’s celebrate it! That’s how we evolve as a society, right? Otherwise, we would all still be out here believing that the Earth is flat.
I’ll absolutely admit that I am guilty of using the word “gay” to mean “stupid” back in my teenage years. As someone who didn’t come to terms with the fact that I was gay until I was 30, I had a very different mindset when I was younger. Then one day I had someone challenge me on why I was using the word in that way. They explained that their brother was gay and why it was hurtful to them. At first, I was taken aback because I would never want to intentionally offend another person. So I sat with that feeling for a bit and allowed myself to admit that, although unintentional, I was causing pain with my words. As Maya Angelou taught us, when you know better, do better. And from that moment on, I did.
Do I wish I had “gotten” it sooner? Of course. It can be super cringey to think back at my former self compared to who I am now, but I also know that I’m certainly not alone in my evolving views. The important thing is that I allowed my mind to be open to different ways of thinking and taking in the experiences of others.
I am so thankful that person had the courage to confront me all those years ago. It’s not easy to challenge a stranger, let alone your own friends and family, but you have no idea how grateful I am when I hear someone now stick up for me, my wife, and our children.
It can be hard to fully empathize with someone when you (or someone close to you) haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. I get it. It takes effort to see things from someone else’s point of view. But I’m asking you to try. And if you can’t do that, at least stop using your energy to spread hate.