If you want to learn how a closed-minded, self-righteous cow learned how to be nice to people because of LGBTQ people being nice to her, then please continue reading. 🙂 If you came here for the video, then scroll to the bottom.
I am a woman. I am straight. I am married. I was raised with a belief system that at times I feel like I’ve abandoned and other times I feel closer to…Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
I was raised in Tampa, Florida. I was the first born of three girls. I was home-schooled. My parents were Christians and I felt attracted to that religion at a very young age as well. My parents were not only members, and deacons of a megachurch (the kind you’ve seen on TV at some sad point in your life), but they also worked there. If I wasn’t at home, I was at church…my world was really small. I loved learning about my faith (and secretly any religion). I actually paid attention in Sunday school. I memorized scripture like it was directions on how to give CPR. I wanted to be a better human.
I saw the cracks…I clapped along with everyone when we talked about loving your neighbor…but I also did nothing when a man, who signed the services for the disabled, was asked to leave because he was transitioning into being a woman. I noticed that he was asked to leave, while a male deacon got to stay…even though his wife came to choir with a black eye…My blog is not political, so I won’t say more than having an open-minded was pretty low on the agenda…and, to be honest, I was okay with this. Which is what happens when that’s the world you’re raised in.
It wasn’t until I went to college when that judgemental eye I was so happy to be behind, finally turned on my family. My parents had their paychecks slashed because we weren’t giving enough to the building fund… The pay cut forced them to leave to find work elsewhere which meant that we couldn’t attend that church as much as we use to….and when we did… the judgment towards us was bad. We were the ones who didn’t have enough faith that God would meet our needs if we gave more.
THIS DEVASTATED ME. It was like several members of my family, that I had grown up with, that I loved, all died. Worse than death…they all decided to kick me out.
I wandered searching for another church, but it all reminded me of what happened to me. Unfortunately, this is still the case. But there was a good side in all this.
I wandered to a place called Sacred Grounds. It was run by a woman and it was “a safe place for all”. At the time, I had no idea what that meant truthfully I thought maybe it was a nod to racism because that was quite honestly the level of social issues I knew about. I had no idea how the gay community was treated. I also had no idea of the issues facing my own gender and the stuff I did know about (like the pro-life parades I had attended with my church) and the feminist movements was stuff I had been raised to either ignore or criticize.
I knew this coffee shop was a place where artists gathered and I’m an artist so I went there. The coffee was great. The evening live entertainment was wonderful. I can still remember the feeling of the velvet couches and the smell of Nag Champa mixed with coffee in the air. But that’s when I started to meet people that weren’t part of my circle. Very kind…..patient….loving….dare I say “Godly” people. They listened to me with compassion when I talked about what had happened to me and the church. They were exceptionally patient and kind when I said narrow-minded and judgemental things (at times not even knowing how narrow-minded and judgemental my comments were).
They were gay, straight, polyamorous, bi, trans, feminist and lesbian. By all rights, I should not be associating with them right? I can still remember that uncomfortable feeling I got (maybe it was because I’m a bit introverted and socially stunted), but I think it was more like I wasn’t sure what to do with these “people”. I was starting to see them as people! People just like ME!
I started to see people I was taught to hate, as having more love for me and people in general than I had ever encountered at my church. They were patient with me and kind. That coffee shop could have been nasty to me, shunned me for how I was brought up to think, criticized me for my ignorance, but they were just kind.
My visit to Provincetown showed more of the same. I’m not going to make the mistake of generalizing and assuming that everyone from the LGBTQ community is stereotypically happy all the time. But I have yet to meet a person from that community who has been as mean to me as I have been to them in the past.
I have learned that judging anyone is a job that I am the least qualified for…IT’S NOT MY JOB TO JUDGE WHO GOES TO HEAVEN AND WHO DOESN’T!!!! I’m not God! Wow…Real showstopper I know, but for me and the world I grew up in, it was mind-blowing!
I can talk more about this perspective shift, and how it’s influenced me to really take a hard look at the community I came from and really question the motives behind the level of hate I was raised to have towards people I didn’t even know. That would make for a very long and uncomfortable post though.
I think what I would like to say is a heartfelt “I’m sorry” for how I acted as a child towards this community. I’m sorry for judging and thinking that was okay. The truth is, I had and still have a lot to learn from the LGBTQ community. Even writing this, I’m hoping that I’m not saying anything wrong, that I’m not having some misconception I was raised with leak into this post. I’ve learned so much about being kind, being authentic, having tolerance for other cultures and just enjoying life from this community. Thank you for being the greeters to a world that I had no idea existed full of love and emotional intelligence that I have only begun to scratch the surface of. Thank you for your patience with me especially. I’m grateful, and while we are stuck in our homes right now, I still hope that eventually to meet more of you at more pride festivals.
Am I still a straight, married, Christian, woman? Yes. But a better one than I was taught to be. I feel able to see people as equals now. To get curious about their lives and see them as someone who can teach me something new that will benefit me rather than me thinking that I’m the only one who’s got it together.
So in the video, I cover what Pride is like in Provincetown, but in this post, I wanted to show, how and why my perspective to the LGBTQ community has evolved. These people taught me more about God than I had learned at my church. They shined a gentle light on my own self-righteousness, that was making me miss the whole point of my own religion which is to love my neighbor, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or what they believe. So for that, I send my thanks to everyone in this community. Keep being kind. Keep educating. Please keep being your beautiful flamboyant selves and I will continue to learn how to love you as I want to love myself.