Thursday, August 27, 2015

"They called me an LGBT advocate? That's so cool, Mom!"

Sharing joy, smiles, and love at the Supreme Court.

Yes, my children do participate in LGBT rights/pride events. It is not something my husband and I talked about before we had kids. I mean, we talked about LGBT rights, but we did not discuss whether or not we would be involved let alone whether or not our future children would be in Pride Parades or protests. This is something that just happened, and we are glad it worked out this way.

Determined to show love not hate.
My parents have been walking in their local Fourth of July parade with the area PFLAG chapter for many years. They do not have any LGBT children, but they do have many LGBT friends. They walk for their friends, for their friends’ children, and for all the people they don’t know but who deserve compassion even in anonymity. When my older daughter was about three years old, she was watching her grandparents and their friends march past in the parade. And she heard the people around us say mean things about them. Without hesitation, she got up and informed me she was joining her grandparents and their friends. She heard someone put them down, so she decided to stand up with them. She decided to be their friend and let them know they weren’t alone. I followed her with the double stroller, but she insisted on walking the whole remainder of the parade route. “I’m walking with Nana’s friends.”

That was the start of our involvement. My little girl led the way. Because of her and that moment, we began paying even closer attention to the fight for LGBT equality. My husband, who is from Ukraine, was overwhelmed at his first Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. I remember my stoic Slavic husband turning to me with tears welling up in his eyes and saying, “they could never do this back home.” We thought of all our friends, people we simply view as people but who others consider subhuman or monstrous or criminals, and we thought of our daughters. What if one of our daughters is LGBT? What kind of world do we want for our girls? This wasn’t just a matter of “others” to us. To us, this discussion was about human rights for some of our favorite humans as well as people we have never met.

Over the years, my husband has connected more with various human rights and LGBT rights groups. Here in the DC area, he made fast friends with the RUSA LGBT group (Russian speaking LGBT group). When they invited him to walk in the DC Pride Parade as part of their group, he immediately wanted to include the girls. We talk a lot at home and at church about sharing love. That is our purpose. We are loved, and we must share that love. This was a chance for them to show love to a group of people who had not been loved before. In the former USSR countries, people are not just hated, they are hounded. Many flee for their lives. Our girls had a chance to not only meet new, interesting people who have so much to share with them, but they were also able to say to others, “I care about these people! I am their friend!” Just like my daughter did as a three year old. We asked them first if they wanted to participate. The answer was a resounding, doubtless, “YES!”

Since then, they also had the chance to go to the Supreme Court to witness history being made with the marriage equality ruling and to join RUSA LGBT protesting Ukraine denying its LGBT community the chance to hold its own pride parade in Odessa.
press calling my girls "LGBT rights advocates" - here

When I asked my daughter why she continues to participate in these things, she answered simply, “It is raising me to not hate. I know these people, and I know to love people and not hate them for being different from other people. It is about love.” It is.

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