My first thought was, "oh, shit. Is this not appropriate for them?"
And then I looked around.
The Gay Men's Chorus had their hands in the air and The Fabulous Wonder Twins were belting out IT'S OKAY 2 BE DIFFERENT and a group of women dressed like rainbows were high-fiving each other and waving to the crowd. And then there was music and more music and people dancing in the streets to all the music. And colors everywhere. And music.
I don't know what my kids' sexual orientation(s) will turn out to be and I don't care. What I care about is modeling CELEBRATION to them - CELEBRATION of HUMANS BEING THEMSELVES in a place where it is safe and, thankfully, APPLAUDED to do so.
"Be proud of who you are," said the parade.
"Be proud of what makes you different. Be proud of what makes you feel alive. And happy. Be proud of what makes OTHERS different. Alive. Happy."
"Do you know why there was a parade today? Do you understand why we went as a family and why it was important for us all to be there?"
"Because we should all be proud of each other?" she asked, as we made our way back towards home, her flag against the sky.
I assumed she would say, "because we should all be proud of OURSELVES" but what she said was a greater lesson than the one I had intended to teach her.
We should all be proud of each other.
We can celebrate each others' sexuality, ethnicity, race, religion without condemning our own. Pride is not just about being proud of ourselves.
There are people all over the world who have had to sacrifice everything in order to be true to their hearts. WHO CONTINUE to sacrifice everything in order to be true to their hearts. TO PURSUE HAPPINESS on THEIR terms.
How can I not take my kids to THAT celebration? How can we not dance on the sidelines as the house music echoes down the boulevard? How can I not point my children's eyes in the direction of those who stood up and stand out and are singing at the top of their lungs that it's OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT!?
"It's more than okay! It's worth celebrating!"
I spoke to my dad at length when we got back from the parade... and that conversation inspired this post because my dad said something that really hit home for me. I had been stumbling over my words trying to explain why I felt it was incredibly important for all of my kids, for US as a family, to witness the celebration of selves being selves and humans being humans amen...
"I've always thought it was incredible that the Declaration of Independence guarantees our right to pursue happiness. I often think about that. That is what our founding fathers wanted for us... they wanted us all to realize and pursue happiness... "
It is one thing to raise humans who are confident in who they are as unique individuals but quite another to raise humans who are proud of OTHERS for being different. Find your happy, kids. And while you're at it, remember to support those on the same mission.
Which is why PRIDE is for everyone, especially our children.