Photo by Pink Sherbet
I’m wearing purple today—GLAAD deemed it “Spirit Day,” encouraging people to wear purple as a visual way to take a stand against LGBT bullying.
Late last month, I could hardly bear to hear the news stories following the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi. Knowing that such suicides among gay teens are far from isolated carries me beyond heartbreak to anger, as I think about the thousands of teens who struggle to find themselves, be themselves, and love themselves in a world that exhibits so much hate.
Parents have a two-fold responsibility: to protect and teach
Being a parent drives the issue even deeper. Not only do I fear for the possibility that my kids might be bullied some day, for any number of reasons, but I know I have a responsibility to teach them well. We need to have many conversations about sameness and difference. My kids need to learn to dig beneath stereotypes, and to embody compassion. As they grow up, they need to fully understand complex justice issues, and be brave enough to stand up for them.
As one of my Twitter pals, @angelaharms, tweeted today, “Instead of purple clothes, how about I raise my kids without hetero assumptions & wear love on my sleeves every day?” Yes! (And I’m wearing purple, too, as a visual symbol of that love and my intentions.)
From complex issues to a simple action: Love
I’m not saying these issues are easy to sort through. Jason and I often end up in conversations with friends about justice issues involving minority groups, and what we can do to help smooth the way. But for our family, the issue reaches far beyond liberal-hipster-intellectual banter; every other week, when my stepdaughter isn’t with us, she’s at her other home with her other two moms, (both of whom Jason and I love and admire very much).
As Jason has pointed out before, lots of good people love to debate, discuss, and hypothesize around these issues. They have very good intentions, but at the end of the day, they go home—most of them white, heterosexual beings living in the comfortable, safe majority. They can go about their lives mostly without fear, without worrying what others are thinking, without wearing a protective shell every time they go out in public. I think about my stepdaughter, out in the world with her wonderful but “different” family. Then I think about all of the teens who feel they can’t be who they are, day in and day out—not even with their own families, or in their own schools. It’s not OK.
Frankly, that’s why I’m not interested in debating anyone about gay marriage or the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, or anything else surrounding the LGBT community. Other people can carry on the debate, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s beyond that. It’s about love and respect for another human being.
In fact, if there’s one word that best describes my God, it’s love. That’s why I’m wearing purple today, and doing my best to raise kids who embody that kind of love for others.