I am a heterosexual, cisgender, sixty-three-year-old woman. When I got involved with LGBT+ equality issues, I had no friends or family whowere LGBT. I was ignorant about most of the issues related to the communities. I got involved because Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church came to my city when our council tried to pass an anti-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation. With him, I saw a ten-year-old child carrying a sign that said “God Hates Fags,” and I knew in my heart I had to do more than stand on the courthouse steps that day in support of the bill.
Shortly afterwards, I met the man who was president of PFLAG Nashville in a graduate school class. “Come to a meeting,” he said. And I went. Over the years, I encountered a young man who had not had contact with his biological family for over ten years after he came out in his freshman year of college. He told a story of finding a family of choice, a family of friends who accepted and supported him, who loved him for the fine, intelligent, kind hearted man he was. I met a fourteen-year-old boy who said he had been chased by kids with baseball bats when he was five years old because he said he felt like a girl; I winced when he said he thought his whole life would be made up of people chasing him with baseball bats, and I smiled at the relief on his face and the face of his mother as we embraced them in our circle.
I sat beside a woman, nine months’ pregnant, and watched her joke with her wife about what to name the baby. I bought gifts when adoptions became final. I saw photos of families with same-sex parents at soccer games, at dance rehearsals, at school plays. I heard about visits to the ER for broken arms and high fevers. I went to the funerals of two great men within the space of a few months. One had been with his partner over forty years, one almost thirty years. I felt the power and the legacy of true love.
I’ve learned a lot since I stood on those courthouse steps. I am no longer angry at the people who told that little girl it was all right to carry that sign. I am sad for them. I’m sad that because the anger, judgment, and homophobia/transphobia, they feel makes them miss out on so many wonderful stories of love, hope, and acceptance.
And I am also grateful; grateful that the walk down those steps that long-ago day set me on my own journey where the lessons I’ve learned and the friends I’ve made are my treasures. I can’t wait to find out what is around the next bend in the road.
-Kathy Halbrooks is the current PFLAG Nashville President and PFLAG Tennessee State Coordinator
To find out more about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, visit http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/
Contact Us24-hr voicemail: 615-208-4528