I felt like it was some kind of rite of passage that I attend, so I bought my rainbow socks and matching shirt and went. I can't say that I really knew what to expect because, I had no clue. I knew there would be a lot of rainbow flags and acceptance.
I spent the entire time just people watching. I was trying to process everything I was seeing. I don't think I have seen so many different walks of life in one area for one common purpose; acceptance. It was a beautiful thing.
My entire life I have avoided judgment the best I could because I have never felt like judgment does anything but hurt. I grew up in an orthodox type of protestant denomination and it seemed like judgment was a big part of the culture. The Wednesday evening service in my young mind sounded more like an assessment of who was wearing what and who had cut their hair or put mascara on before church. Those memories of judgment and finger pointing sticks out the most from a childhood of playing toys under the pews. I never remembered feeling acceptance and love in a building that spent the better part of a Sunday preaching love and acceptance. I thought a lot about that while I was watching crowds of people who probably don't see a whole lot of love and acceptance.
I have been to so many different kinds of denominations, churches and religious communities searching for something. I have studied religion in college and in my own personal life and I always end up leaving with disappointment. I never feel sincerely and whole heartily accepted. Even before I was out of the closet, I rarely felt like I had found genuine acceptance. I have read the bible in many different versions and heard it preached so many different ways. I know there are a million interpretations and scholars who believe in different words for different references in the bible. But, no matter what version or interpretation, the one thing I believe and know to be true is that the bible preaches love and acceptance over hate and judgment. So then, why is it so hard to love your neighbor as yourself?
When I first came out, I knew being from the south and growing up in the bible belt I would hear so many accusations and questions and be prayed for more times than I could count, all of that's fine. I, more than anyone, have no problem with how someone believes. I have always been an admirer of faith. I think faith is so very important to the human condition. Faith is something that people spend a good part of their lives searching for and following without ever really questioning or seeking individual knowledge. I think most people spend their lives listening to someone else's version of faith and basing their own on beliefs upon that. When you do that though, you're doing a disservice to yourself. Faith is an amazing thing but human beings have had their hands on the institution so long, biases have been molding faith. Now it's what we see it as today, an excuse to hate and murder and isolate people. Faith should be the complete opposite. Whether it's Christianity or Buddhism or any other faith, the bottom line is all the same. We should love and be kind. No religion I have studied instructs humans to go out and judge one another and isolate others. If there is, please let me know and I will apologize for that false statement.
Instead, I believe whole heartily faith is about loving others, despite and because of their differences. Look at Christianity, the book of 1st Corinthians 13; no matter what good acts you do or things you say you do none of it means a single thing without love. The bible says this in a lot of different ways yet, judgment and harsh words are picked out and thrown at others and that makes me sad. I have known so many good Christians who have said kind words to me since my coming out but there has been the opposite.
I know this post may be ignored or upsetting to some people, but it really weighed heavy on me while I was sitting at pride and seeing streets full of people who are isolated in their regular every day life because of who they love. Sadly I have learned, who you love dictates whether you are accepted or not or whether you are a point of discomfort for someone. I'm stunned how much loving another woman has had such an effect on others and how they communicate with me. I think it is mind blowing that I can be the same person I have always been yet I'm like this big elephant in the room around those I have known my whole life. I have never told anyone to stop talking to me or leave me alone. I knew coming out would open me up to all kinds of judgment, I'm fine with that. I would rather be out and happy than in a closet and stressing about what someone is going to think. I'm strong enough and loved enough by those who are important to me, to have no problem with what someone says about me or to me. I have no problem being the hot topic of a social event. I'm a grown up and my decisions are my own and no one else's. But with this post I just ask you to choose love over judgment. Please, take the time to educate yourselves. Read, research and maybe even ask someone. I know I would rather get an awkward question than finger points and hateful glances.
But, after sitting through my first Pride I decided I'm going to help advocate for those who are isolated, judged and hated. I have read and researched and found so many articles videos (click on the links) that could maybe help those who struggle with loving those who are different. I think just putting myself out there or maybe being a resource to someone who just is clueless may help. I don't have all of the answers and I'm not some sort of representative but I have come out of my own closet and I don't take offense to conservative Christian views, I came from the bible belt so maybe I can help someone from there or anywhere not feel alone. Maybe I can help someone who has a kid or relative that's out and they are struggling to show love. I have spent a lot of time reading and watching and researching, I may not have an answer but I would love to try and direct you to one. I am including a couple of links below for some wonderful videos and articles. None of these resources are hateful, they are all loving and just a different perspective if you're interested.
Ted talk video
Believe me when I say, I have so much more on this topic to share! Thank you if you got this far for taking the time read my thoughts and opinions, because they are MY thoughts and opinions.