Do you remember what it was like when you came out? As gay, lesbian, bi, transgender? As a parent of an LGBTQ child? As an ally?
The fear, joy, confusion, clarity, bondage, freedom, terror, excitement… if you were like me, you were a beautiful mess! You were more scared yet maybe more alive than you have ever been.
In our fervor to advocate for equality and to express newly discovered truth and freedom, we can forget what it was like at first. Sometimes, we can lose our compassion for those at the beginning of their journey.
This is Rob Cottrell. I was reminded of that recently at a PFLAG support group meeting.
I watched as tears flowed and nervous hands trembled as people held the microphone to share their hearts.
I listened to a wife share about her husband who just came out as transgender. She was broken and lost and confused and terrified of the future.
I listened to the parents of gay children, some accepting, some still struggling with their child’s identity, but who both talked about their ooncerns for their child’s safety and future. They were scared.
I listened to a supportive Mom of a newly out young trans child talk about her child’s victories and struggles and tears, and about her confusion with simple things like pronouns. She was full of love and questions.
I listened to a lesbian woman who had come out later in life talk about her unapologetic boldness as she finally gets to express who she is. She was a little intimidating, but wonderfully alive and excited.
When people are vulnerable and share their hearts, we need to listen and accept. Even if we disagree. Even if we don’t understand. We need to connect with people. That is where the magic happens, that is where life happens, that is where healing takes place, that is where we all get to move forward. It is in the love and the connecting.
I want to encourage you to do the same.
Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked at those who brutally persecuted him and said “Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Sometimes in our anger, or even in our excitement, we can lose our compassion. We forget that people often are doing the best they can. They are doing all they currently know to do. They are responding how they were trained to respond.
We need to be patient and compassionate with people as they struggle, as they express newly found freedoms… wherever they are on their journey, we need to be full of love and grace.
We need to be a light that helps bring healing to people and a world so desperately in need.