When I hear the word “family” I experience a flash of warm feelings. Gratitude, acceptance, love, and open-mindedness are all qualities that my biological and extended family possess. Considering that the majority of my family resides in North Carolina where the words republican, homophobia, and religious are thrown around with pride, I’d say that I’m pretty darn lucky. Unfortunately this is not the case for many homosexual (we all have to label things nowadays, don’t we?) people living in conservative places throughout our country and all over the world.
I got a phone call from my father who lives in a small town mountain city in Arkansas yesterday evening while I was driving. “Do you have a second to talk?” my dad asked. He seemed emotional. I immediately was overcome with worry. It sounded serious. Someone died, I thought. “Of course dad, what’s up?” I asked. “When I was in my senior year of high school, living in Seoul, South Korea on the American military base…” I already knew where this was going. I had heard this story countless times before. You see, my dad is someone who will enthusiastically tell the same story over and over. I never stop him because no matter how many times I have heard them, they never fail to captivate me. “…we used to have to have to recite the pledge of allegiance every morning. My two friends and I did not stand up. They called all of our parents. No one could understand why we didn’t stand up! And when we explained that it was because of the last line of the Pledge Allegiance ‘freedom and justice for all’, they still didn’t get it. ‘Our best friend is black, and we wouldn’t stand up because he doesn’t have the same rights as us’ they didn’t know what to do.”
The whole time that I am hearing him express this story with as much earnestness as if it happened yesterday, I have a smile on my face. These defiant, humanitarian, activist qualities were all traits that passed on to me. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble, especially in school, but it is something that I am most proud of.
“I want you to know that if I had to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance today, I wouldn’t stand because of you.” My eyes got watery. I know that my dad is accepting of my “homosexual” relationship. I quote homosexual because even though I am in a relationship with a woman (a very amazing one at that!) I don’t like using labels. I like to say that I am just attracted to awesomeness is people 😉 . It makes me emotional not only to hear once again that I am supported for just being me, but also for all of those that aren’t as fortunate as I am.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Studies show that LGBT youth who are rejected by their families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide; however, all it takes is one ally to dissuade high-risk youth from attempting such a horrendous act.
Please support your local gay-straight alliance and the young members that are struggling in your community. Visit the GSA Network website to discover how you can get involved. You never know whose life you could be saving.
Writing about LGBT activism is something that always comes easily for me, but never without intense emotions. I am so incredibly thankful to have such a loving, accepting, and inspirational family. I recognize that sometimes I can take it for granted, nonetheless, I am forever grateful.
Happy coming together 😉
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.