Pride & Champions

This has been a hard month. I am missing my Gram more than usual. My laptop died.

I started going to pride month events when my nephew was around 1 I guess. I told him that Pride month was about love, acceptance, openness, and the vitality of the human spirit. He has never batted an eye at same sex couples or anyone else. To him, love is love (kissing is still gross, but what 10 year old doesn’t think so).

One of the most interesting conversations my mom had with him was about Bert and Ernie (this was maybe a year or 2 ago). He asked how long had they been living together and mom rattled off 20 years or so. Without missing a beat he asked why they didn’t just get married. She smiled and said sometimes people don’t always feel the need to get married. He said in a rather stately fashion that if they loved each other than they should get married.

The other thing is that while I have always looked forward to Pride month, this year has been a little different. I have read a lot of posts and articles outlying who gets to be proud. Articles providing guidelines for festival/parade behavior if you don’t fall into the LBGTQIA+ group, and many many arguments over flags, letters, and inclusion. I have even read quite a few post comparing the LBGTIA+ struggle to that of race/ethnicity. The articles about “ally” where the hardest to read.

For this, I am going to do a little time travel. Some of you may not know, I am 36. I have seen a lot things. I am curious by nature and that curiosity has lead me down wonderful paths, down painful paths, and this provides the foundation on which I run my business.

My first love is research. When I was 15, I wrote a research paper on Tea Rooms in St. Louis. This isn’t what you think. “Tea Rooms” where places in the park gay men would meet to have sex. I found out about this while researching Forest Park. I was completely horrified that men felt that this was their only option for a bit of brief happiness. I told my mom what my topic was and she was 100% supportive. She drove me all over the city to get pictures and interviews. The interviews where the hardest part. Who wants to talk to a 15 year old about their love/sex life? Let alone a love/sex life that was considered “dirty”, “wrong”, and “predatory”. It took a few weeks to get the interviews set up in safe places and with discretion. My mom helped make it happen. She helped without prejudice. She helped me discover that love is love no matter what flavor.

 

In the paper I championed equal rights for openness and acceptance. To love and to be loved without fear and hate. I provided the blue laws banning interracial marriage as the foundation of my battle. I used my actions to set the tone for what I was prepared to do, support and fight the good fight no matter how hard and how many tears were shed.

One of the men that I interviewed was leery, but I let him look at my notes and he was shocked at what he found. I was writing a paper to expose the unwarranted prejudice and hate. The health risks of not being able to live and love openly. What we could do by affording everyone with equal footing and legal protections.

This brings me back to the word “ally”. Am I? I don’t know anymore. I champion love, acceptance, openness, and the vitality of the human spirit. I try my hardest to provide a platform for those who want to share their messages. I write letters, I support monetarily, I support in the dark when no one knows it is me helping. What is a little behind the scenes assistance if it means a lifetime of happiness for another?

Why do I continue to my support when this year, it seems so unwanted? I worry about those who don’t have support. I worry about those who need someone who will listen without judgement. I worry about those who are lost and can’t find their way.

Why do I continue to support when visible differences are equated with something that is while private, the right to live and love out loud is constantly questioned? I do it for the next generation. I do it with the faith that my nephew and his peers will learn from hundreds of years of mistakes and lost. I do it so that the next generation doesn’t repeat the world we are living in. I do it because in my heart and mind no one deserves to suffer. I do it because of the hurdles I have had to jump professionally and personally.

Do I need anyone’s approval to be a champion? No, I don’t. I don’t seek it. What I want you to know is that while you are wrapped up in arguments about flags, letters, and inclusion I will continue to do what I do whether you approve or not. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about me. This fight is about now, the future, and everyone whether they realize it or not.

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