“And I am proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free”
- Lee Greenwood God Bless the USA
These lyrics came on as I was on my way to a Pride event with my family. I began thinking of how the LGBT community has not been afforded the same freedoms I have. I have the assurance that my spouse will always be recognized by any government agency. My right to marry who I love was always just there. I did not have to fight for it. I have several kids that are part of the LGBT community and I realized that I need to advocate for them and be their voice where they may not have one. While at the Pride event I had the opportunity to speak to several groups that are there to stand up with this amazing community. I thought back to Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA” and how it states, “I proudly stand up next to you and defend her still today”. These words don’t say that there are only certain people he will stand next to. We don’t get to pick and choose who the rights of humans are afforded to and yet those that make the laws and those that educate our children seem to believe that we do. As we headed home everyone was quiet and reflective. My youngest came to live with my husband and I at 15 two years ago when my husband’s ex-wife could not “handle” the responsibility anymore. For 2 years we have loved, supported, respected and taught the importance of family. Recently, my youngest let us know that he is a transgender male and pan-sexual. He shared that he has felt this way for many years but because of his biological mom’s family he was unable to share it. He finally felt safe enough to tell us. Watching him at the pride event be so relaxed and feel safe among those who were not going to tell him he is a sinner or freak was amazing. However, looming over all our heads was the fact that the next day was going to bring his Bio mom and her parents to visit. He decided to stand his ground and face them. There has been little to no contact in the two years we have had him. When we got home, I took two pictures of him. I posted them to Facebook along with the following:
NO NEGATIVE COMMENTS
I want to introduce someone. Pictured is my son [name]. Today the world will know. I gained a son. I don’t feel I lost a daughter though some may think I should feel that way. I have worked hard with this kid to allow the freedom of being who he is. This is a huge step for him. I am honored that he felt safe, secure, loved and respected enough to tell us how he has felt since a very young age. As we drove to a pride event today, the song God Bless the USA came on and I began thinking about how my kids still don’t have the freedom to be who they are in the world. They have had to hide it for fear of chastisement or God forbid violence. I will fight for that freedom and right for them. I will be a voice when they have none. I will stand up to anyone who is mean to them. [name]: Your dad and I love you as you are. We always will.
Several people in my life stepped up and supported my son. It was seriously overwhelming and gave him the support he was going to need. However, one thing was a common theme in several of the comments. “you are an amazing mom” “you are a wonderful mother” and many others that were similar. I know that they all meant well and I appreciate it. But I see a problem. A problem? Yes, a problem. I am NOT amazing. I am a parent. A parent who loves my child unconditionally. That is part of being a parent. It does not make me anymore amazing than any other parent. It makes me a mother. A bit of a mother bear maybe, but a mother nonetheless. I am not special. I am not amazing. My son is the one who is amazing. Amazingly brave. I am just a parent who knows that my kids are going to be who they are with or without my support. I choose love. I choose to be in their corner. I choose to be in their life. Why? Because I am a mom. I carried some of my children for nine months. I can’t imagine not loving them. The others I carried in my heart from the day they became mine. Again, I still can’t imagine not loving them. Most parents cannot imagine not loving their children. It does not mean I am special, wonderful, amazing. The fact that our society sees this act as special is disturbing to me. It speaks to how little it really happens. I know that some kids get segregated from their families because of who they are. It saddens me to know that this happens. However, I still am just a mom. I love my children fiercely and will stand by them no matter what. I think about the amazing people I have in my life that support my kids like I do. Then I remember that they will always have to fight for their rights that I just have. It angers me and drives me to do more.
“I gladly stand up next to and defend her still today”
-Lee Greenwood God Bless the USA
These words mean so much more to me than patriotism. It is what I will do. I hope others will stand with me. I hope those that “Love the sinner, hate the sin” realize there is no sin. I hope that humans are given the right to love whom they want. I have a lot of hope that the world will change. Ask yourself: ‘Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?’ Then act.
~ Jennifer L.