Pride 6/8/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

June, I’ve just discovered, is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. I personally do not fall into any of these categories, but I am a huge supporter and, frankly, fan of the kind of strength many of these members show. Happy Pride Month to those of you who are in one of these groups, and many thanks to those who support them.

Unfortunately, we still live in a nation where LGBTQ+ people face discrimination, harassment, and worse including assault and murder. I find it shameful to live in a nation where people feel the right to judge the actions of other people, especially when the lifestyle and actions of the other has no impact on the lives of those judging. I can hear my religious friends shouting that it’s somehow their job to save the souls of those lost (in this case LGBTQ+). My answer is that, no, it’s really not. Believe me when I say that this community has heard those sermons, are fully aware of your beliefs and have still elected to exercise their God and Constitutionally guaranteed rights to live their lives in the manner that they see fit. Join them, support them, or leave them alone is what I say.

“But their SOULS!” Listen, I’m addicted to this diet cola that I know full well is eating away at my brain. I know the dangers and elect to keep drinking it. That’s my choice. If you believe that the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is a sin, well, maybe you’re right, but I can tell you that, personally, I don’t want to join a God in His house if He would doom people to Hell for living their life in a way that makes them happiest without harming others. That vision of God is unjust indeed. Ironically, it’s the extreme religious right who is now harming others with their hurtful rhetoric, restrictive laws and hatred of anybody different. Thank you, you can keep it.

For my (as it turns out, many) LGBTQ+ friends, my love to all of you. For those who are still struggling with being ostracized or criticized or worse by family and strangers (I hope no friends, because why would you call them as such?), I’m here for you. My heart, my prayers are with you and if you need me, I hope you’ll feel safe to reach out to me. I don’t know what I can do for you, but I will lend and ear and do what I can. That much I can promise.

I cannot pretend to know what it must be like to be LGBTQ+. I’m not entirely sure how we do it, but our society teaches us that to be anything other than heterosexual is something to be ashamed of. I guess it comes from parents teaching their children this bias, church and political news. Can you imagine what it must be like (I know some of you have lived through this) to have a secret, to know that you don’t quite fit in with the heterosexual norm in our society? I don’t know when this self-awareness even begins. Maybe at puberty? I know I began masturbating in sixth grade (about age 11 or 12), so I must have been recognizing women and my attractions at that age, but unfortunately, children at that age are cruel. I don’t know if it’s intentional or just ignorance, but to carry such a secret must be an incredible burden. If I were LGBTQ+, I can assure you that my parents, my family would have never accepted it. I am certain they would have ostracized me (as they did already) much as they were critical of my cousin born of my white uncle and his black girlfriend.

So if you are raised with this fear of being ridiculed, losing friends, being distanced from your own family, then when do you finally “come out”? And to whom? I’m sure there is no right answer to this, but it’s shameful that it’s such a difficult thing in our society. Coming out, I’m sure, means losing friends (and perhaps family) and excessive ridicule. Every year there are many stories of someone who is LGBTQ+ committing suicide because of the way they are taunted.

It’s not the taunts, I’m sure, that hurts so much. It’s the way it makes people (yes, people) feel about themselves. When I think of this pain, so dreadful that it pushes people so far over the edge, I want to reach out to everybody who is struggling, but I cannot. I encourage my readers to do so instead. Let your friends know that you are accepting of them, regardless of who they might be. They need you, but this is not only LGBTQ+. There are times that we all need somebody, a helping hand, acceptance, or just a little bit of love. Imagine reaching out to find nothing.

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