My husband and I were having a conversation the other day that made us contemplate our upbringing and he said, "No matter how we look at it, most things stems from childhood." And to a large degree, I think he's right. Whether positive or negative, our first teacher are our parents. In their presence or absence, they teach us advertently and/or inadvertently. And as I reflect upon my childhood and this year's PRIDE Month, I can't help but have a sense of gratitude and here's why:
I grew up in a Christian environment, Church of God In Christ to be exact. The consistent message that was taught in church was that homosexuality was an abomination. As a child, I wasn't really exposed to anyone in the LGBTQ community that I was aware of but something still felt off about being taught that kind of hate towards anyone. Also, even though my parents were of the Christian faith, I never once heard them refer to anyone in the homosexual community by a derogatory name whether seriously or jokingly. I didn't even sense they were just "tolerating" homosexuality. I just felt like I always witnessed unconditional love in that respect when it came to my own household. My maternal grandmother was also a devout Christian who spoke of the Ten Commandments often but she always stressed how keeping all of the Commandments meant nothing if you did not have TRUE love for your fellow neighbor. I always took that to heart. Now as a family, we had our fair share of problems that I've had to work through in order to face my internal struggles and become a confident and thriving adult, but I can honestly say that a disdain for the gay and lesbian community was something I did not witness. And I really, REALLY appreciate that now more than ever.
As I'd gotten older, my associates and friends became more diverse as this included gay and lesbian friends. And with social work being my profession, this too blessed me with experiences like no other which ultimately lead me to fully embracing my LGTBQ brothers and sisters even though I was a straight woman. And honestly, it all stems from childhood like my husband said. To love someone fully even though our choices of who and how we love may be different, was very easy for me because I did not witness that kind of hate and unacceptance from the beginning. And when I sit back and observe my own children and how they fully embrace others as well, they are literally mirroring what they are taught at home. But think about if we all made a conscious decision to just embrace and love each other unconditionally, no strings attached, no matter your background, choices, and/or current lifestyle... whew, I just had a mental picture of the beauty in that and how it would cause a ripple affect in future generations. Wow.... that truly left me speechless as that would be a direct reflection of when love truly prevails.