I’ve been to my share of LGBT pride parades and events in my 42 years. The rainbows, the music, the queens and kings and bears, oh my. But there was no bigger pride month celebration than in June of 2015 when SCOTUS finally recognized same-sex couples’ right to marry. My partner and I snuggled our fresh and perfect two month old, threw a pride onesie on her and drove down to have lunch at the gay bar. We were drunk on happiness and love, and me on half a beer since I was nursing. Our new child, we exclaimed through teary hugs and clinking glasses, would never live any part of her life behind closed doors, she would be free to be her true self from the start, and she will grow up proud of her moms for doing the same. And then just one June later, my mama heart would break watching the Pulse nightclub mass shooting coverage on TV and I would remember how far we have left to go before love truly wins.
Yes, our culture and acceptance are light years different from the 1990s when I was sowing my wild oats, but before we pat ourselves on the back too hard, we can’t forget the changes needed to make sure LGBT children and those raised in LGBT families grow up in an inclusive, supportive, and safe environment. For those of you who think pride is just another month and another Instagram graphic, here are two big reasons why it’s so important to this two-mom family and many like ours.
Representation matters. LGBTQ youth are at a greater risk for depression, suicide, and substance abuse due to a variety of complex factors. For some, the idea of feeling different is overwhelming and negative, simply because they haven’t been exposed to people “like them.” Pride month and the positive media and festivities are chock full of people showing pride in their sexual orientation and their family. For youth that might not interact with folks they can relate or look up to on a daily basis, this can be extremely important and empowering. For kids with LGBTQ parents or siblings, it’s a time to connect with others and wear their differences as badges of honor. Our family is just like any other family, and the days and weeks are marked with car pool lines and swim lessons. Pride month gives us a chance to put our “different” kind of family on display, all while helping people realize how few differences actually exist.
Allies matter. For LGBTQ youth and families, there is nothing better than seeing someone who’s not a member of our community celebrating pride. For kids, this might open their eyes to teachers, friends, family members or businesses who will be a safe person for future conversations and judgment-free guidance. For this Mom, it means I know I don’t have to worry about whether my child and I will be judged at a play date, or at a school function, or on Facebook. What a better time than June for allies to reach out to LGBTQ kids or families to say love is love and family is family and we will always be in your corner?
Celebrating other cultures by attending parades and festivals is always fun and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar niche. As parents, I promise that our stories of picky eaters and bedtime struggles don’t vary much from your own. They just might be accented with rainbows and a tad bit of glitter during Pride month.