I had a really great post set up to publish today. A Trump one. It's witty and snarky and funny. In the wake of this weekend's events, I couldn't. I wrote a letter on Facebook. Again. Posting it here as well. With hope always with hope that it will inspire change.
I’m writing to you again. Now in the wake of a tragic killing in Orlando. To date, the largest mass shooting in United States history. Our sons and daughters were murdered, more of them injured and seeking care, and the entire country is once again grieving. We’re learning that the shooter was angry at the LGBT community and his hate called him to take the lives of the innocent.
But I refuse to focus on the shooter.
All of us are thrust into motherhood not knowing how it will all turn out. There’s no manual, no classes, no internship you can take that truly prepares you for the responsibility of creating, nurturing, and loving another human. We all go in to it willy-nilly hoping that each decision we make enhances their lives and delivers positive outcomes.
They come out kicking and screaming, mad that we pulled them from a warm, safe, and cozy cocoon into a cold and noisy world. During those early years, from our own bodies, we nourish them. We cradle them when they cry. We teach them when they play. We kiss their scraped knees. And hang each and every scribble on the fridge.
Then their personalities emerge and we foster them. They run around pretending to be astronauts, ballerinas, veterinarians, or presidents. School becomes more difficult and making friends does too. We advise them about bullies, we re-learn our multiplication tables, and we begrudgingly have “the talk” about their bodies.
They enter adolescence and things change. They become more independent. They go out on their own with friends. They start learning how to drive. And then maybe one day your teen in a tear filled moment is brave enough to tell you that they’re gay.
How you react in this moment will affect the rest of their life.
I don’t know how to not love my child. Explain to me how you can take something that is part of you, nurture it, care for it, foster it, and then in one moment destroy it. In my view there’s no other option when faced with this situation then total respect and joy. And while I relished the moment and hugged my daughter fiercely for her bravery - deep down I felt a fear I’ve never known.
The LGBT community is a minority with only 3.8% of Americans identifying as gay/lesbian, bisexual, or transgender according to the Williams Institute in 2011. One in 25 people admit they are on the spectrum. According to the FBI, in 2014, 18.6% of all hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation. Gender identity accounted for 1.8% of attacks. And while overall violence against the gay community has dropped 32%, violence against transgender people rose 13%. Why? North Carolina’s ludicrous bathroom law put a spotlight on this community.
Each day my daughter goes out into the world and she’s considered “different.” Because of her own body (a body which I created), she’ll be viewed as an outcast, a weirdo. Her entire life she’ll be subjected to ridicule, laws that restrict her, and religions that criticize her.
This could have been my child.
This could have been your child. They could have been living their life, happy, out in the open, free - and then horrifically killed for it. This thought scares me. This incident fills me with such terror. Imagine the phone call. Imagine the heartbreak, the sound of a mother crying upon hearing the news. The scream. The agony. The guttural yell of her voice as it becomes clear that her child... her baby... is gone.
How you react in this moment will affect the rest of your life.
Don’t spread fear. Don’t spread hate.
Don’t live in fear. Don’t live in hate.
If you’re affected by this, and you should be, you should be asking yourself a few questions: How can I make this better? What can I do? As mothers our voices command respect. We have power. As creators of life and natural nurturers, our actions (and inactions) can adjust our culture. What kind of culture do you want for your children?
Hate creates division.
Love creates inclusion.
Being gay is not a sin. Being gay is not a choice. Being gay is not wrong. Being a gay is worthy of love. Spread love and acceptance to your children with your words and actions. Educate yourself and them on the LGBT community and help them to understand how differences enrich our world. Unite, mothers. Support other mothers in their struggles. Share in their joys. Share in their sorrows.
Be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t give in to hate. Instead, give more love. Cause mothers have plenty of that. For everyone.
A PROUD Mother