Planting seeds for a rainbow colored world
In our household, my husband and I try to not avoid controversial topics of conversation with our kids. We subscribe to The Post & Courier, and my husband reads the Opinion section religiously. Our 4-year-old daughter is quick with follow-up questions whenever Drew cracks up over an editorial cartoon or scowls over a column, or when I discuss a news article with Drew. (I try my best to avoid the Opinion section.) She wants to know what we find so interesting. And we try to explain current events to her in an age-appropriate way. We want her to know that the world is not fair to everyone, and that she lives in a society that needs her help to make it a better place.
We also belong to the Unitarian Church in Charleston. The church is a welcoming congregation to everyone, including whether you are gay or straight. One of the biggest church activities of the year is participating in Charleston’s Pride Parade. This year’s parade was the first time we actually marched as a family, and it was so much fun.
The night before the parade, the youth of the church gathered together, and we made rainbow-colored tutus to wear and multi-colored streamers to hang from strollers or umbrellas. It was such a joyful occasion, and Penelope relished the role of picking out the colors for her own tutu, as well as mine and Drew’s.
The morning of the parade, we picked out our most colorful outfits, packed the stroller in the car and drove downtown to join the gathering of parade marchers on Meeting Street. It was such a carnival atmosphere, filled with balloons, glitter and celebratory music. This year’s parade seemed to be especially exciting, based on this year’s Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country.
And as we marched through the streets, it was so amazing to see everyone that came out to help us celebrate. The supporters far outnumbered the protesters along the route. And it was encouraging to see so many parents bringing their children, bearing witness to this cause.
As a straight woman, I do not know what it is like to be discriminated against due to my sexual orientation or to be told that I cannot be with the person that I love. But I can certainly be a fierce ally and teach my children to respect all people — that everyone has value in this world. And that love will always win. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of being friends with many gay people in my life, and they are just like me. And they were once children, who may or may not have been ostracized for who they are.
On the way home from the parade, I asked Penelope if she knew why we had marched that day. She said no. I told her that it was because we wanted to support men and women who, for a long time, hadn’t been able to be in loving relationships. That there were men who loved men, and women who loved women, just like Mama loves Daddy. And wasn’t it silly that some people didn’t think that was OK? She agreed that it was silly, and then she changed the subject, as 4-year-olds do. I smiled, knowing that her little brain was digesting something new. Even though the parade, to her, was more about handing out candy to kids and adults and wearing a cute tutu, I know that she’ll be ready to march next year, maybe with a deeper purpose.