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Happy Pride.

In June of 1969, at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, citizens of America birthed a movement that would go on to change the dynamic of social justice and human rights issues in our country, and around the world. This June, in 2021, marks the 52nd anniversary and birth of the LGBTQ+ movement. June, now proclaimed as “Pride Month,” allows members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as its’ allies, to celebrate their freedom of sexuality, their social, political, and economic milestones in history, and to allow visibility and support to those still struggling with their sexual identity. While June is about celebrating how far we have come, this month always forces me to see how far we’ve got to go.

Anytime Pride Month rolls around, I always get sick to my stomach watching members of older generations mock our progress, and express their disgust and hatred towards LGBTQ+ celebrations and recognition. It’s absolutely pitiful. And for what? Can you imagine literally spilling your hate for all to see because the new world decides to celebrate those who can ~finally~ love who they love? As frustrating as this is to me, year after year, I must pause to realize that these folks are merely a product of their own raising— just as their parents are a product of their own parents (so on and so fourth.)

We (meaning millennials and gen-z) are growing in a time where our nation, and parts of our world, are finally welcoming the LGBTQ community with open arms. While that’s really amazing, why in the hell weren’t we doing that the whole time? What could ever possibly be wrong with a woman loving a woman, or a man loving a man? What do people think is so wrong with that? Can you imagine having to live a life hiding your identity, being told that you cannot love who you love? Thinking about this just baffles me… especially because there are still so many people that speak out in their hatred of anything other than heterosexuality? These ideals and ways of thinking are coming from our parents and our grandparents. I’ll say it a million times over. They were raised during a time that people in America were lynched for being gay. They were raised during a time that being gay was known to be gross, wrong, sinful, and extremely taboo. While times are ‘a changing, majorities in these generations cannot accept that we are moving forward as a species. Instead, they raised their kids with the same twisted ideals, because it is what they know.

For Pride Month, I conducted a survey with 80+ individuals in their 20’s, asking “Were you raised in a household with parents that supported LGBTQ+?” My heart was heavy to read that 60% of participants voted “No.” I had several individuals contact me directly, telling me that when they came out to their parents as gay, they were disowned, screamed at, denied completely… one woman even told me that her mom hit her once she told her she was bisexual. Many told me that they’ve been hiding their sexuality from their parents for years, preventing them from being themselves, and from being able to truly love without fear. These numbers and these comments made me feel so discouraged— because even though this is the FIFTY-SECOND anniversary of the LGBTQ+ movement, we still have not come nearly far enough. Parents, those who are supposed to love unconditionally, cannot accept the reality that their son may love men, or that their daughter may love women. What in the hell is that? Why would you not want your child to experience real love and happiness? All because you think it’s wrong? And for what? This mentality is a sure sign of immaturity. If that offends you, I cannot be sorry because the only place homophobia comes from is a place of hate. Many express that their denial of LGBTQ+ comes from their love for God and their belief in the Bible. I personally think that’s ridiculous. If you believe in God, you should know the Bible also notes He is the only true judge, and that you should show love to everyone. Who someone decides to love is none of your business— and there is no reason that should make you love your child any less. I feel like that’s common sense?

Alright, I’ve bitched enough. With this being said, we must realize that we are a part of the new world, and the new age. It is up to us to change this hate-filled dynamic created by “the way things used to be” and endless “back in my day” stories passed down from older generations. 60% of the young adults in their 20’s that participated in my study were raised in a household where their parents denied LGBTQ+. The time for change is truly now. We must raise our children to believe in LOVE. We have to raise them to accept and stand by humankind, regardless of someone’s gender, race, sexuality, and class. It sounds like common sense, huh? We can raise our sons and daughters to know compassion, and to care for others. I really have faith that our children will live in a better world; one where they are not mocked, denied, and hit because of who they love. I want to think that someday, all of those who answered “No” in my survey will have children that can answer “Yes.” Children that know what it’s like to have parents that accept them and others for something as important as LOVE. If you are reading this as someone who cannot accept the new wave of acceptance for love in all forms— take it from Bob Dylan, “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don't criticize what you can't understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly agin'. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin'.”

Listen— You deserve a life full of being yourself. A life with elementary school crushes, football game kisses, backseat exploration, first dates, movie-theatre hand-holds… you deserve to love and be loved. I know that if we raise our children to know this, and if we really realize it ourselves, we have the power to change the world and erase the hate that has been learned for years. It is up to us! We can work to make the world a better place for those who will inhabit it next. Our children, their children, their children’s children… I hope they never have to know the hate that we were raised to know.

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