June is Pride month. Throughout the month, I reflected on what Pride means to me.
As you may have read in previous blog posts, I was a born-again, evangelical Christian attending a Puritan Christian school between two cornfields when I realized that I wasn’t straight. When I would reach out to others for support, I was provided Bible versus that would speak to my being an abomination. I became depressed and isolated.
The following year, I attended eighth grade in public school. This was a strikingly difficult transition. Partly due to my age (no one likes middle school), but partly because of my struggling in silence with my sexual orientation and sense that I had been abandoned my God. I felt completely isolated and cut off. I used to write my friends letters asking them for help, but I would throw them away.
The first year in high school was not so different than eighth grade, except that there were more people. More people meant more ideas and more opportunities for support. By the summer between my freshman and sophomore year I came out and began looking for supports outside of my religion. By the end of my sophomore year, I had come out, was the only out kid in my school, and had started a gay-straight alliance. I had planned and executed walks for AIDS and homelessness, ran a canned food drive, and had a piece of the AIDS quilt come to our school.
As a young adult, I learned about LGBTQ history in college. I had finally felt like I had some history and that I mattered. That I could do things that were important. The next year I taught LGBTQ Studies as a teacher’s assistant and graduated as one of the first students to have an LGBTQ minor at Towson University.
I went on to volunteer at a suicide hotline (support hotlines) and educating other volunteers, in in-services, about LGBTQ issues. Simultaneously, I started facilitating an LGBTQ teen and young adult support group and began my Master’s Degree in Clinical Community Counseling at Johns Hopkins University.
Currently, I work as a contractor at a local counseling center. About a third of my clients are LGBTQ, and parents of transgender children. I have been asked to speak to local mental health clinics about specific LGBTQ issues as they relate to not only adolescents and young adults, but also their families, parenting, and aging. And this year, I was able to attend Howard County’s first annual Pride celebration.
As I reflect on this trajectory and the concept of “pride,” I can’t help but see the stark contrast of a person who believed that they were an abomination doomed to an eternity in hell, to the person I am today. I think that the purpose of Pride is to recognize that LGBTQ people matter. That we have a history. We have a past, present, and future. That we are just as worthy as anyone else, and to insist that we get treated as such.
In a lot of my readings on multicultural issues and adoption, I have noticed a striking similarity in development trajectory. So many people in each of these communities feel lost, abandoned, and/or not good enough. All struggle with a sense of not being worthy. And all have been told in various ways in our society that they are somehow less than.
It is through my experiences, that I truly believe that I may be uniquely qualified to work with my future child on these issues.
Below, I am including a few links. One is to the stages of minority and majority identity development models and the second is to an article about some current laws that are being passed that will affect LGBTQ parents.