Pride Month: Three Reasons to Listen & Speak Up
“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.” – George Takei
To the Point
No one should face violence, abuse, or suffer in silence because they are different from someone else. The world is big enough for all of us.
Make no mistake, the LGBTQ spectrum is roomy. All are welcome! There is no box, no closet, no limit to the creative expansive light found in the human experience. How an individual identifies, connects, and expresses themselves is unique.
Make a conscious decision to be open to understanding someone else’s story.
I grew up without knowing I had options. I hid my feelings, even from myself. In high school, I remember crying as I watched a close friend kiss her boyfriend. I had no idea why I felt devastated. I was clueless. I had very little self-awareness.
After high school, I married a nice guy next door; we had two beautiful children. For nearly ten years, life looked picture perfect. As I raised my children, I started to pay attention to the world around me. I realized choices I made were formed from the expectations of friends and family. I began to acknowledge feelings I hid for so long.
Once I came to terms with my inner self…it felt like I took my first breath.
I could no longer remain silent. Unfortunately, the fumbling disaster that followed, left me feeling alone and like a failure. My marriage crumbled, my children suffered, and my life was rearranged.
It took years of self-awareness, learning and therapy to heal. I occasionally struggle as family members fail to ask about my wife or our life. I feel like their silence communicates disapproval. It’s clear to me, I do not fit in their box. Perhaps my story makes them uncomfortable. Despite this, I do have inner peace. My wife and I have been together for nearly 10 years. We are happy and enjoy life together. My children are grown and have families of their own. I have learned to focus on living a life of love and acceptance of myself and others.
No matter where you are or who you are, find ways to expand your understanding about someone else’s story. Provide a safe space for others to be where they are in the moment. Allow others to be who they are without judgment. Offer support when appropriate. But, most importantly, be present and listen.
If you are not a member of the LGBTQ community, become an ally. Be open to expanding your understanding about another’s experience. Help break down the walls of ignorance.
Are you LGBTQ? Are you speaking up? Are you experiencing confusion, isolation, or abuse? There are resources available or groups you may fit into. Find safe places, faces, and spaces to grow. Reach out, connect, and enjoy your life. If you do not have support from your friends or family – create strong bonds with those who allow you to express yourself. No matter where you are in your journey, you do not need to go it alone.
Three Reasons to Listen
- Everyone has a Story: Listen to a story, be open to hearing about a different experience or self-expression from your own.
- Learning is Important: Expand your knowledge, watch a LGBTQ supportive documentary, join a LGBTQ organization.
- Action is Power: Be an active force for change. Be open to discussions in a safe space. Listen for ways to add value to the LGBTQ community.
Three Reasons to Speak Up
- You Matter: Share your story, your pronouns, your associations, your life experience and define your own expectations.
- Own your Power: You know you – better than anyone else! Your voice, opinion, and input are needed. Join a LGBTQ group or organization.
- Walk the Talk: Be available to help others grow – allies, friends/family, or coworkers. Be kind, be bold, and be you!
- Support Organizations — Transgender Center of the Rockies
- One Colorado – LGBTQ Resources
- LGBTQ CO Health Resources – Colorado.gov
- Partnership for Colorado – Social Justice Program
- One Colorado – LGBTQ Advocacy Organization | Denver, CO
- Resources – Inside Out Youth Services
- The Center on Colfax – LGBTQ Colorado