“What’s the Pride Festival about anyway?” she asks, this chestnut-haired, spitfire of a daughter, from the back seat of the car. ”It’s about being proud of who you are”, I say, “no matter what. It’s about being proud of how you look, and the things you like, and the things you do. It’s about being proud of who you love.”
Charlotte is quiet, so I explain to this small girl that she will be seeing a lot of new people, and probably some interesting things. We devise a subtle code, if she wants me to take notice of anything or anyone particularly unusual.
I grew up in an extremely religious, uber-conservative family. My conditioning began at birth, and only in the last few years do I feel that I have completely let go of some of those ingrained judgements that were laid on top of me by my parents and my religious culture, and that were then perpetuated by myself, in my adulthood. I thought I was open-minded and non-judgemental, but in reality, I was simply tolerant. Polite. I saw those with a same-sex orientation as worthy of my compassion, though I’m not sure for what. Their plight? Their confusion? Their sin?
As we wandered the booths and navigated the crowd, my daughter, at age seven, didn’t see sexual orientation. She didn’t see confusion. She saw people. All sorts of people. And her squeal of delight when she saw a young man wearing a pair of earth toned butterfly wings, holding the hand of another man, was a simple display of pleasure. He was proud of his wings. And she was fascinated. She still talks of the man in the beautiful wings. How pretty they were, and how happy he was. How proud he was of who he is.
I heard through the family grapevine, that my mother could not understand why I would “expose” my children to “people like that”.
Because I want to do better by my children than you did with me, Mom. Because by telling me that it isn’t okay for “those” people to be who they are, you are also saying that it isn’t okay for ME to be who I am.
And who I am, is good. And I’ll be damned, if I feel “sorry” for anyone who lives a true life, and knows who they are. It has taken me a lifetime to be the person I want to be for my children. I want them to see the butterfly wings, and the happy humans, and I want them to be proud of who they themselves are. I want them to be proud of how they look, and the things they do.
And I want them to be proud of who they love.