I’m one of those people who thought – live and let live – LGBTQ+ community do what you want – it doesn’t really affect me. I have to admit I am wrong. My attitude was not inclusive – it was dismissive: Let me illustrate.
A man I worked with and I were part of a group of work friends that got together on a semi regular basis for a few years. We kept in touch as we had a number of things in common. Eventually his marriage ended. He described to me a business trip and confided in me his realization, and consummation of his first sexual experience with another man. I recall thanking him at the time for having the confidence to let me know his news. He is in a stable relationship with a caring man. I didn’t reach out to him a lot after that, and we’ve drifted apart. It took me a while to imagine the hurt that his wife must have felt with that realization out in the open, or the agony he must have felt for all that time not being true to himself.
My wife and I have a lesbian couple as friends. They have added some spice to our group of existing friends and neighbours and, truth be known, made us feel a little bit cool. They were both strong advocates in the LGBTQ2+ community. In the past year, I found out that one of them was trans*. To be honest, it took me a few days to get my head around this. I spoke with her about it and she laughed and said that she was really intersex, (you can look it up - it's part of the +) but she considers me an ally and went on to tell me some highlights of her life.
I’ve slowly begun to understand how horrible each of these people felt inside – conforming to what was ‘expected’ of them, and eventually either having the courage, or the overwhelming anguish to finally say – “this is who I am –will you accept me?”. People like me ignored it - when we should have hugged them. The exceptions were usually worse – I’m sure this brought back the anguish – and eventually required more of a stand to say, “This is who I am – you willaccept me”.
For this very diverse group Pride means “I’ve taken a bold step to own my identity as who I am – accept me or not – I am proud of me”. I am proud of my friends above – they are heroes to me. I need to be a better friend.
A colleague I shared an early draft of this article commented, ”I have a story too. I find it interesting when I hear how folk come to be... for lack of a better word... enlightened.” I’m sure that as our lives progress, we can all identify colleagues, friends, family or others who have similar stories that may appreciate our support or acceptance.
In my email contact info, I’ve added the line “Gender Pronoun: He/Him” in support of those who’s gender based names may not reflect how they see themselves, or would like to be seen.
Safety and Claims Solutions
Cell: 519 691 6753
Gender Pronoun: He/Him