So it’s Pride month. A while back it was Black History month, another month designed to extol a minority. March is Women’s Pride month. Seems there is a pride day, week or month for most any minority.
Here in the hinterlands, I hear a fair number of people complain about all this hoopla for different minorities. I actually heard someone at my favorite counter’s diner say “Why don’t we get to have a “Heterosexual WASP” month?” I almost spit out my coffee.
(For those of you who aren’t part of American culture, WASP means white anglo-saxon protestant, a dwindling majority here in the States.).
Sometimes I think we are missing the boat on this whole thing.
My son is gay. In my household, it’s no big deal. It’s like saying he has blue eyes or is right-handed. It’s just a thing, like my being baldish. But is has been a big thing. I’ve watched him grow up. Watched him struggle to understand his difference. Watched him catch hell for it from parts of the society he lives in, even his mother. I’ve watched a world put him down and watched his fight to just BE what he is.
What is it in our world that we feel we have to quash what is different? What is it that makes us think difference is a threat, that it has to be beaten, insulted and torn down? That we have to make up threats and lies to justify the insults and beatdowns?
It’s been an education for me, having a gay son. I’m the original WASP. A white boy raised in a white state, protestant, heterosexual as they come. Ordinary white bread, that’s me. My father was Bigoted. That’s spelled with a capital B for a reason. I grew up being told by word and deed, that blacks and a whole host of “others” were useless, bad, criminal, promiscuous, and dangerous people. I can’t even imagine how he would have handled gay folk. They never really permeated his consciousness.
His was an odd kind of Bigotness. When it came to individuals of any of the groups he hated, he was generally nice, kind, and generous. But as groups? Oh the things he said about them. That was my homeschooling.
It didn’t take. I knew people, not a lot, but a few, of different races. I was exposed to gays in high school and college. A hidden lot, afraid, but wonderful people. What I learned talking to people never jibed with my home education. But I kept that to myself. It was safer that way.
Safer. That’s what we heterosexual white folks don’t get. It’s safe to be what we are. It’s not safe to be a minority. I’ve seen it with my son. Yeah, opinions are changing. Hearts are changing, but it’s a slow, back and forth, up and down kind of change. Don’t kid yourself, it’s still unsafe, if not physically, certainly emotionally. I’ve watched my son live it.
Imagine living in that unsafeness. Never knowing how people might react. Having to gage, person by person, situation, what you reveal about yourself, just to keep from being torn down, lectured, or even harmed physically. Never knowing if the people around you, even family, will love you as you are, or not.
All that negative attention, no matter what form it takes, is designed to hold down, to keep people in “their place”. It certainly is not designed to make people feel good about who they are.
And we’ve done it historically, to all sorts of people. Other races. Women. Other cultures. and of course, the group this month, the LGBTQ+ community. It’s not a great legacy.
What IS a great legacy is that much of the nation eventually get to a better place. We’ve worked at it. Part of us, taken out of the moment and when we are forced to look honestly at our beliefs will say that we believe all people should be treated and respected the same. Our fears keep us from getting there, but our history is a constant, zig-zag movement towards acceptance. It’s a fight we can never stop fighting, but our path, in general, has gone in the right direction.
And the minorities, whoever they are? They have had to learn to go from thinking they were less than, to learning, believing that they can be as proud of who and what they are as the rest of us. That’s not easy in a world that too often says otherwise. Good for them that they have gotten there.
Their pride doesn’t threaten mine. Whoever they are. Whatever they are. Let them be proud of their heritage and who and what they are. They have earned that pride in a way I never had to. And that’s OK with me.
I celebrate pride month. I rejoice in Black History month. I wish we had more months sometimes so we could have other months too. Depression pride month. Sexual victims pride month. Oh, I could go on and on. So many people have taken such beatdowns in our world. And they all deserve to feel good about themselves.
There’s value in celebrating all this pride even when aren’t part of the minority of the month being celebrated, because it is also something in it to be proud of as a people, that even if we are not there yet, our history and our future is the story of a journey of increasing acceptance. Let them be proud. They have earned it. But we can find pride in it too.
That way lies love, which most of us believe in. That way lies peace, which most of us want. That way lies amazing possibilities. My prayer is that, even with the recent regression in acceptance, we will continue to move forward.
Wave those flags, they are for all of us.
Be well. Travel wisely,