June is PRIDE month, and it is a reminder that it as a compassionate people we give our voices to stop the global violence and expressions of inequality, torture and even executions towards people because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. Today's message is written by Felipe Zurita reminding us that stories are the best lessons for expanding our perspectives.
"I'd like to say that LGBT people don't want to yell about themselves on every corner.
We don't come out for heterosexual people to know.
We don't come out for religious people to know.
We don't come out for the ones who hate us to know.
We shout and make as much noise as possible just so other people like us who are scared and can't be themselves would know that they are not a mistake and they are not alone.
We come out because we want to show other LGBT people
That we too can live a normal life and we too can be loved and accepted.
And also, we come out, because we want to show others,
That we are people, just like them."
Last weekend I was hanging with a group of friends that happen to be queer like me. We all live in Salt Lake City and most of us grew up in Latter-day Saint (Mormon) families. We are Millennials, in our 30's and living in one of the "gayest" times on Earth (thankfully), where gay culture is being welcomed and embraced intrinsically in many countries, and people are learning (unlearning, or re-learning) that the spectrum of sexuality is as varied as the rainbows we see in the sky, which means almost everybody is a little queer.
Most of the friends I was with, grew up in a conservative, religious, unfriendly-towards-queer-anything environments, and we were very lonely, despite being surrounded by family and friends. I grew up "understanding" that I was different, that I wasn't normal, some of us believed we were an abomination of God, a mistake, a problem to suppress, or a cross to bear for the rest of our lives. Plus, growing up during the 90's-00's, after the tragic days of AIDS ravaging our communities we were made to believe there was no future for "us." We didn't have queer people to look up to, admire or follow, there were no queer storylines in any tv shows or movies, no queer teachers, principals, doctors, CEO's or lawyers. No visible or 'out' queer politicians or people in power. Of course, queer people have existed throughout time and have also been in positions of power, but our survival instincts clouded our desire to live authentically and unapologetically. This made the rainbow invisible to us younger generations.
Coming out was a major steppingstone in my journey of self-compassion and living authentically. I say this, acknowledging fully that my privilege has allowed me to explore this life out of the closet and embrace myself. There are LGBTQ+ people living in countries where they are not allowed to exist. I'm forever grateful to be able to share my queer thoughts and experiences freely, IN THIS BLOG, with you.
So, I want to take a moment to let you know that to me, Pride (the celebration, not the actual word or feeling) is more than just parades or parties celebrating queer culture and acceptance. Pride is also about embracing your true self regardless of what other people might say. It's about learning that I am who you are, and you are who I am, even if I'm gay and you aren't. It's about celebrating surviving really hard times, overcoming loneliness, shame, fear, abandonment, violence, etc. It's about compassion. It's about that compassion leading to action, where Black Trans Women moved the rest of the LGBTQ+ world to mobilize, to stand firm for equality, to truly fight for queer liberation of all systems that have put us down and acknowledge that when we help those who benefit the least in our communities, we are helping us all.
Someone asked how we feel about all these young kids and teens that are growing up in an even queerer time than the period in which we grew up, how they may not realize all the bullying we went through, all the judgment, violence/aggression, and abuse we had to experience from figures of authority, family, and friends. Not knowing or acknowledging that Black Trans Women unleashed PRIDE and made our desire for equality known, or the insane social progress that is happening around the world is something new and ongoing? I mean, I learned about stonewall riots and Marsha P. Johnson in my early 20s. Prior to that I didn't know anything gay. I was afraid to death of learning more or being found out. Queer kids these days are enjoying some of the freedoms that I never experienced. I would have loved to have had a safe space in school, or even with my family. When the safe space was offered, I was already too old and tainted with society to ever open up again to anyone until later in life. Queer kids and teens can learn and be who they are, and that they can live the lives they want just like any straight counterpart. Does this make them unaware of the queer struggle our ancestors endured, that I, myself, experienced? Maybe, and that to me, is wonderful.
Don't get me wrong. The fight for equality and equity for the LGBTQIA+ family is still an uphill battle, which means it's still important to teach our history and struggles, but my ultimate happy PRIDE wish would be for kids to not have to think twice about holding the hand of the one they love. That they may never have to second guess kissing their partner in case someone finds it offensive. That things like being hopeful for a kid to be gay wasn't seen as a curse, but seen as praise and excitement for their future.
To my fellow queers:
- Congrats on being. Whether you are out, in the closet, are recently questioning your sexuality, or any other situation, Happy Pride! Remember we are a wonderful, colorful, and diverse community.
- Let's remember to be kind to ourselves and each other. We are all at different stages of being queer. Let's learn how to be safe spaces to ourselves and others to learn, enjoy, explore, and be!
- Remember that just as we are and have been a marginalized community, there are other communities that are also marginalized, and many times, if not all the time, intersect with us. (Especially to my white cis-gays [from the bottom of my heart]) We need to practice compassion and be supportive of our BIPOC brothers and sisters. Stand strong against racism. Stand strong for our indigenous siblings. Stand strong for a sustainable future where we care for the place we are and belong to. Stand strong for adaptation and social innovation to benefit everyone. When we help the least privileged, we are helping all of us.
To my allies:
- Thank you. I love you. Thank you for being understanding. For putting to practice the Golden/Platinum Rule. For standing by our side and advocating for us. Thank you for providing safe spaces where we are able to explore who we are without judgment. Thank you for your love.
- Keep fighting for the equality we all wish for. We need your support. Supporting us is supporting yourself.
To everybody else:
- Do you know LGBTQ+ people? (most likely you do, you just might not know it)
- Listening mindfully to stories of people with different realities will open your world like nothing else will. I encourage you to listen to queer voices in your communities.
I want to publicly express my appreciation and gratitude to the many Black Trans Women that changed the course of queer history (as well as many others). It was the most marginalized of us that got tired of the treatment from police and the government and fought back in 1969. Thank you, Stonewall Riots. It's because of those riots that we can be happy, open, compassionate people that help others to live happy and peaceful lives in communities that are rich in the diversity we all provide.
May you all have the Happiest Pride Month yet. Support the Charter during the month of June by purchasing an item from our Rainbow Collection in our store. We have a Gender Partnerships Sector where there's a newly created Sub-sector for the LGBTQ+ community. We invite you to join if you feel inclined to get involved with the Charter and help with queer initiatives all around the world. There's plenty of work to do for us and the generations to come, so join us if you can.
This message from Felipe Zurita, Marketing and Multimedia Coordinator for the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 06/07/2021 weekly newsletter. To connect with Felipe follow him on instagram. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu, in the newsletter section enter your email address and click on subscribe.