I saw this image of a newborn wrapped up in a rainbow blanket yesterday and it really moved me so I had to share it.
This image and reading the story of a brother of a gay man who got defriended on Facebook for supporting his brother got me thinking about how I came to be the accepting woman I am today. A woman who welcomes the LGBT community with open arms. Without judgement. Without fear. Without hurling archaic religious notions like stones.(People who claim gay people are “sinners” drive me bananas!)
When I moved from my home state of Texas to the more liberal San Francisco Bay Area nearly 9 years ago, my eyes really opened up to the variety of cultures, practices, and sexual preferences that are possible. I admit that I wasn’t exposed to much growing up but thankfully my parents were not hateful towards LGBTs or other races (that I was aware of) so I think that helped me during my formative years. They couldn’t teach me everything though, as I was not home-schooled. My school district was not culturally diverse. The majority of the population was plain ol’ straight white kids. Perhaps around a fourth of my classmates were Hispanic and there were maybe a handful of kids of other ethnicities. As for classmates or teachers who might have been or were openly gay, there were even fewer. There was one teacher in middle school who was ridiculed at the lunch tables by the students for maybe being gay. I don’t know if she was or not but the mean spirited whispers about her were my first experience with how sectarian kids were.
In high school, I distinctly recall disparaging remarks and bad names being tossed around towards students who were suspect. “Lesbian” was scrawled on books and desks of girls who people thought were gay or just someone they wanted to tease, I was never sure of why. It was treated as a dirty word. I had “Lesbo” written on my books more than once. It stung like a personal attack to feel like I was being accused of doing something immoral, that being gay was raunchy, and certainly socially unacceptable. As a teen, I felt as if I needed to disprove the accusations, prove I was straight because I didn’t want jerks sullying my reputation. I was stupid. Who cares if people thought I was? If I grew up in a more open minded community, I probably would have not cared because diversity would have been more common. But when someone would whisper with a snicker, “He’s gay! Didn’t you know? How gross!” and I heard nasty rumors spread through the classrooms, it didn’t feel like a rumor I wanted to hear about myself.
Why was I branded and teased? Maybe because I didn’t really date boys from my school. Maybe because I played basketball and girls in that sport at my school were often denounced as not being feminine enough or said to be “playing for the other team.”
Before moving to out of state for college, after I survived the public school system, I played softball – gasp – another sport that people associated with lesbians. I finally met some ladies who were out and proud. They talked about dating and normal things. I realized they were not gross or inferior or faulty. Being who they were, sexual preferences included, was nothing to be ashamed of. I went to my first gay bar for a drink after a game and when I was hit on for the first time, I was flattered. I wondered what it would be like to kiss another woman and I wasn’t mortified to realize that it intrigued me. It is easy as a woman to find other women attractive. We are beautiful creatures. But, as fate may have it, I am straight. I selected a male as my life partner and we now have two beautiful daughters together.
What do I think about gay couples now that I am a married woman with children of my own? Do I see a gay couple in public with my family and shield my children’s eyes? Hell no. LGBTs should never be treated like modern day lepers. Straight people cannot “catch the gay” or the STDs the ignorant claim they spread. If anything, straight people need to wear more condoms and stop spreading so many STDs themselves but I digress. We are all just people living our lives. Period. Kids in grade school can be pretty damn ignorant about the world. People who put on airs about the sanctity of marriage in God’s eyes baffle me. I think ignorance is passed down from their parents or learned from just going with the crowd. Condescending adults who spread hate, who disown their own children, and try to stop equal marriage rights anger and sadden me. No matter what sexual preferences people have, it is all about love.
Since moving to California, I have seen same-sex couples do everything straight couples do in public. They hold hands, kiss while walking their dog, and push their babies in a stroller together. They get coffee, laugh, and rub noses. They go to movies. Heck, I may respect same-sex couples a little more than straight couples, now that I think about it. I’ve never seen a gay couple fight in public. And the handsome gay men around town? They work out. They’re fit. They’re nice to look at! And my husband and I received a genuine compliment from a gay couple once and I will never forget them.
Babies are born the way they are, be it gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered. Some people don’t believe that. They think it can be suppressed or “corrected.” I think that approach to diversity is what is wrong with our world. It doesn’t always have to be “us” versus “them.” We are all in this together on this planet we live on. If my daughters don’t happen to grow up into straight women, I will still love them fiercely and protect their right to love who they choose.
Regardless of others sexual preferences, my daughters will be taught to embrace their fellow humans as equals. To welcome the diversity that makes us each so wonderful. We will sit with the LGBT community at Dolores Park in San Francisco on warm summer weekends. We will participate in the Gay Pride Parade. We will show them the rainbow flags in the Castro. If they ask why a same-sex couple is kissing or holding hands, if it even crosses their mind to wonder, I will tell them all babies, children, and adults deserve to be loved and to love whom they choose, regardless of race, religion, or sexuality.
I am strong enough to support people that are different than me. Do you support love for all?