My cousin Henri and his spouse Gary are board members of the Long Beach Chapter for PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.) So yesterday I went to their pre-Pride Parade breakfast. There, I made a sign that read “I love my cuz and his hubby!” When I noticed that everyone else’s signs had writing on the back as well, I quickly scribbled the first thing that popped into my head: “It’s All About Love.”
I really was just there for Henri and Gary, to show my support. I didn’t think any deeper than that. I slipped on a PFLAG tee. Sign in hand, off I went with the PFLAG group, to get in line.
The parade started and I walked with a woman I’d just met, named Lori, who wore a matching tee shirt. Within moments, I looked at Lori with surprise and said, “I can’t believe how much love I feel in the air—its palpable!”
She agreed. She’d walked Pride before and said, “They really love PFLAG.”
And then I heard it. I saw it. An outpouring of thunderous applause, shouts of “We love you!” and “Thank you!” as our PFLAG group walked by them.
Again, surprised, I looked at Lori who said, warmly, “I told you. They Love PFLAG. So many people here have been rejected by their own families. Our support means the world to them.”
I almost felt stupid. Of COURSE PFLAG was important. We were straight people saying “I accept you and I love you, and I want to be on the record, in public, saying so, for all of you who have felt unaccepted and unloved.”
I couldn’t believe the affect it had on me. Just by carrying a sign, by walking a few miles, by smiling (uncontrollably beaming, actually) I was feeding damaged, broken hearts. I was helping to make souls feel whole again. I was a bandage, an elixir, a nurturing shoulder, a hug, a friend, a healer. Me. Personally. Just—me. By being there.
Astounded, my heart and eyes welled up for joy. I started making eye contact with each person standing on the sidelines, giving them my own personal wave, and they would whoop and holler, blow a kiss, say thank you, shout God bless you. Who was getting more of a healing, them or me? I suddenly felt so humbled and honored to be in that position. Me, who had just come for Henri and Gary. Suddenly I felt a responsibility, I felt… important. I felt loved, by thousands of people. My eye contact made a group of ten wave their arms frantically at me, and the cheers would turn to a delightful roar from the whole crowd, as if I’d just won a gold medal at the Olympics. Me. But not me, Rose. Me. The Stranger who was saying to the brown eyes, to the pink shirt, to the man with a blond wig, to the shy lady in the corner—“You are a whole person. You are loved. You are, in fact, really awesome, just the way you are. You are brave, you are honest. You are honoring your path.”
I wasn’t me, Rose. I was Acceptance. I was the Mom saying the words of support that their own mother never said. The Dad who hugged instead of hit. The Grandparent who showered love, not shame. I was, in fact, Their Family walking for them in the stead of their biological family who had refused to go.
I know I already used the word “Humbled” but it keeps coming to mind. I was in a position of honor. One I didn’t sign up for, one I didn’t mean to be in, in my naïve happy support for my cousin and his husband. I didn’t know—I had no idea I would be Every Family. It was a great responsibility, and so very… again… humbling.
They treated me like a war hero coming home, or Princess Di in a carriage. They loved me. Because I was, for a moment—for a three-mile stroll with a sign—Their Family. And for a truly lovely moment, they were my family, too. I learned, on a new level, that, really and truly, It’s All About Love.
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For similar subjects, please read The Transgender “Issue”
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