I remember going to a pool party with mother. It was one that her co-worker was holding for their department. It was a gloriously sunny and warm day in July. We drove an hour to get there and on the way, she explained to me that some people have different sexual orientations. Her co-worker and partner were lesbian and very kind, generous, accepting and loving. She wanted me to be prepared for this experience so that I would not say something offensive (I was about 10 years-old) and would feel comfortable. We had a great time and I really loved their dogs. One even jumped in the pool!
Homosexual, gay, lesbian were never weird to me. These things were part of life and love and learning about ourselves. “Sin” was a word they used at church and one that made me feel more uncomfortable than anything related to sexual orientation. At times, I would say things to my LGB friends that I think probably showed that I didn’t always think of things from their perspective and I wanted, still want, to be better about this.
Now, as an adult, there is a new acronym LGBTQ. Transgender was not something that I encountered early in life and is something that I’m more aware of now that I have kids. Kids and friend’s kids are deciding their gender regardless of anatomy parts. I am fumblingly awkward and I know it. I want to be better and I’m reminded of my conversation with my mother and how it shaped a loving perspective. I want to pass these things, this love, to my children.
But what about my fumbling awkwardness?
To be truthful, I get butterflies in my stomach and I feel a general sense of confusion when people share. I don’t understand, but I want to understand. The other day, a fellow mom with a transgender child shared a video interview of 3 different families and their experiences. I was amazed at the strength of these families and the various different reactions each person had. But mostly, I was struck with the way I identified with each person’s story.
I think we can all say that at times we’ve felt out of our element, confused about our identity and lacking in the feelings of belonging. I related to the children and teens who were transgender. I also related to the parents who were concerned for their children’s futures. One of my favorite author’s, Brene Brown, recently shared that “If we look for the ways that we do not belong, then we will find them. If we look for the ways we do belong, then we can also find those.” How significant this is!
We can look for all of the ways that we are different from individuals who are LGBTQ or we can look for the ways we are similar. In our similarities, we find acceptance and belonging. In our differences, we find fear. This is the choice we have – belonging or fear. Which will you choose?