May we all Pursue Happiness. #PRIDE

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A few weekends back, Hal and I took the kids to LA Pride. It was easy to do, only a few blocks from our house. We walked, of course, brought the stroller, parked our team at the beginning of the parade, watched, cheered, danced, people watched, danced...
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It occurred to us pretty quickly how few children were in attendance, especially since many were in the parade.

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.
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I realize that half naked, and that's generous, men and women may not be for everyone but celebration certainly is and there was nothing we saw that day that I felt I needed to shield my kids from. The half-naked bodies were no different from the ones they see on billboards and on the covers of the magazines that flank every store aisle. Hell, just driving down the street on any given day you see as much as you do in the parade.
In short, "Of course it was appropriate for them."

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."
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As we were leaving the parade, I asked Fable if she understood why we were there.. It was just the two of us after Hal took the other kids home because they were tired. Fable was not tired. She wanted to stay a little longer. She wanted to find the man she saw selling rainbow flags early on in the parade and buy one for herself. (We eventually found him.)

"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.
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Cesar Chavez said that "preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures," and those words are some of the MOST important to remember as we go about our lives and navigate the narrow views on BOTH sides. (Because a liberal mind does not necessarily imply an open one.)

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... "

"... And to help each other pursue happiness."


"Thanks forefathers."

(Thanks, Dad.)

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.
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