The Rainbow Report – Leading With Love
“We know that diversity can sometimes be more uncomfortable because things are less familiar, but it gets the best results.” – Megan Smith
As we bid adieu to June, I want to talk about something extremely near and dear to my heart. I see a lot of mixed messages over Pride Month out there and I’d like to offer another perspective. Please, before you dismiss this post for being “too woke” I ask that you remember how much I love and respect you all. I’m asking you to read along not because I feel I’m going to change your mind but because I believe our society’s reluctance to listen to and respect one another is one of our greatest downfalls.
I admit, I don’t understand everything about the LGBTQIA+ community, yet. I also know I will never truly understand what it feels like to have your family think you’re sick or call you abnormal, to be ostracized or bullied by your peers, and to live in fear of physical and/or emotional violence each and every day just for daring to be yourself. I only know what it feels like to be born a cisgender heterosexual woman. I am as “normal” as they come in this respect, but my brother was never this way. My brother was born different. My brother had to rise above and learn to become brave and courageous at an incredibly young age. To this day people who claim to “love” him still make incredibly ignorant and hurtful comments as they don’t fully grasp the disconnect or the damage their words can cause. My brother is gay and is an absolutely perfect human being.
Many people don’t know what it is to have a relationship with an LGBTQIA+ person. Sure, you may know someone queer just casually from work, school, or maybe within your own family. But to have an actual personal relationship with someone queer is a whole other thing. To know what it is to listen to their struggles, share in their joys, and hold their hand when they need to be brave is a completely different thing. As a music and theater geek throughout my entire life, it’s hard for me to remember a time I didn’t have a multitude of queer friends. Over the years I’ve seen so many friends struggle with acceptance in the most heartbreaking of ways. I’ve had friends who got into fake relationships with the opposite sex just to please others and keep up appearances. I’ve had friends who were kicked out of their homes in high school because their families couldn’t accept their “lifestyle choice”. I’ve had friends who were rejected from church because they dared to ask if they could be their true selves and still love Jesus. I saw my brother fight for happiness without apologizing for who he is, and that fight brought on so much change within our family and passes like an infectious stream of joy to all who encounter him. I’m honestly so sad for anyone who doesn’t know that kind of happiness and freedom because it’s like a warm hug from God himself.
Pride month is so important is because it gives the queer community a chance to be seen, heard, and understood when ignorant members of society want to shove them back in the closet (or worse). As a bonus, it provides non-LGBTQIA+ people a chance to listen, learn about, and celebrate queer history and culture – which is especially important if they haven’t experienced it. It can be very difficult for people to connect to or have empathy for something unless it has become personal to them. For example, we all know cancer is horrible, but most people don’t start fundraising for research until someone they know and love is diagnosed or loses their battle. It is something we don’t feel a need to connect with if it’s not a reality in our lives. The same can be said for the LGBTQIA+ experience. You might know a queer person and think that makes you an ally or qualified to speak on their behalf. However, if you are not living in that world with them, unless a piece of your heart belongs to that community, it can be very difficult for you to understand.
In true Riveting Rosy fashion, I’d like to provide you with a list of thoughts to keep in mind as you navigate through Pride Month. If you’ve made it this far through my article and are still uncomfortable that’s totally fine and speaks volumes about the amount of love in your heart. This also brings me to my first thought:
The way we become comfortable is by first being uncomfortable. Being respectful doesn’t mean I don’t have to make you uncomfortable.
Most new concepts throughout time made others incredibly uncomfortable when they first learned of them. For example, gravity, the shape of the earth, evolution, and even equal rights for women! While these concepts seemed radical at the time they were first presented, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t always present and true since the dawn of time. While being out and proud feels new to so many it doesn’t mean that queerness hasn’t always existed. While I can understand being uncomfortable with something you’re not used to seeing on a daily basis, I urge you to lead with love and offer compassion before speaking. The queer community has earned the right to show their pride and deserves our respect.
Pride Month is important and doesn’t discount visibility to other marginalized groups in our society.
I’ll keep this brief and to the point: just because the LGBTQIA+ community celebrates Pride Month each year doesn’t mean other groups are unimportant. The queer community is highly intersectional in terms of sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender, age, physical ability, religious beliefs, and even veteran status. This isn’t a national holiday where we all take time off work to reflect; it’s a month to celebrate queer culture and community, and to educate ourselves about the experience of our queer brothers and sisters. And let’s not forget that Pride started as a riot in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, and for many LGBTQIA+ people there is a continued need to fight for equal rights under the law, especially in our current climate. Pride Month is for EVERYONE because queer people and allies are everywhere!
We need to look past people’s appearances and value their humanity.
When people say “you should never judge a book by its cover” we need to remember that applies in all situations. I was recently talking to a friend about an ad campaign he saw in Macy’s. It included an image of a nonbinary teen with spiky pink hair, wearing a dress and showing some spunky attitude. This friend I know has a very open heart but very little experience with the LGBTQIA+ community. He admitted he was shocked when he saw this image and couldn’t understand the need for such an “out” image. I asked if he’d feel different if someone told him that kiddo actually gets straight A’s in school, takes care of their younger siblings after school, and volunteers time at an animal shelter. When we start to accept the possibility that a child’s personal style or outward appearance has nothing to do with the quality of their character, we can take a great step forward as a society towards love and acceptance. To quote Ricky Gervais, “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”
If someone you love, your own flesh and blood, comes to you with tears in their eyes asking for acceptance… listen and show compassion.
Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and everyone in between, please pay close attention. When your child or loved one comes out to you as queer it has nothing to do with you. It’s not a commentary on who you are/were as a person. It is not something they’re doing “to you” as a form of rebellion or punishment. Please remember to check your ego and show compassion to this person who in many cases desperately needs your love and support. There is no “choice” in this matter. The choice is out of their hands when someone is born queer, and you’re cheating yourselves when you deny them your love. Lead with love, hold them, and let them know that while you may not understand everything you will always love them and treat them with the respect you committed to the day they were born.
Don’t let your discomfort keep you from moments of joy.
I have so many friends who have been out for decades and still don’t have the love and support from their parents. I honestly pity their parents for their preference to remain separated from their child rather than participate in their lives. Their parents have missed so many key opportunities to share in their child’s happiness and to offer comfort and guidance when they’ve felt pain. I once heard a wise woman say she believed God allows our families to be bestowed with queer children so that we have an opportunity to prove His love truly lives within us. If you think for one second that if Jesus walked the earth right now, he would deny ANYONE His love simply because they don’t fit the “mold” then you know a very different God than I do.
The biggest thing the queer community can do right now is to continue to be your authentic selves and live life unapologetically.
To my queer friends and LGBTQIA+ allies, please don’t lose momentum! We need to continue to show up and stand tall and unapologetically for the truth. The more people get to know you for who you truly are the less afraid or uncomfortable they’ll be. Remember that there’s a learning curve here for so many and it’s our place to show what leading with love really looks like.
At the end of the day, I think most of us are trying to lead with love in our own ways. None of us are perfect and we will all always have something to learn from each other. I know I for one will never stop being an ally. It’s my birthright and my privilege and I embrace it fully. If reading this makes you want to start a conversation, I am absolutely here for you and encourage you to shoot me an email or a DM in my socials. If this post makes you uncomfortable or makes you want to unfollow me, that’s totally fine. I want you to know I will never stop loving you or treating you with respect, and I encourage you to ask yourself why exactly you don’t want to read this. I’m a woman expressing love for an incredible brother and a community of people who deserve equality. We all deserve to be happy and authentic in this world, and to live without fear. If we all stop and listen to each other more than we argue or criticize we can begin to create the change that brings harmony into this world. In the meantime, I’m here with free hugs for everyone!!
By: Rosy Rodriguez,
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Bio for Rosy Rodriguez
Rosy Rodriguez is a mom, wife, writer, wayward sommelier, wannabe athlete, amateur chef, and an all-around sassy lady. A Miami native, Rosy graduated from Florida International University with a BFA in Theatre Performance but chose Hospitality for her 15-year career. In 2019 while at a charity dinner, Rosy was asked to write an article for 305Hive’s first Halloween Issue (What Wines Pair with the Candy I Stole from my Kids?) and she’s been a regular contributor ever since. This year Rosy launched her own newsletter, Riveting Rosy, where she’s able to blog about subjects that are relevant to people of all ages, share recipes that make our weekly lives a little easier and of course, crack some jokes. Please subscribe to this free newsletter at www.rivetingrosy.com and be sure to follow her on social media @rivetingrosy305.