Pride Weekend has arrived in San Francisco. People often misuse the word pride. As the father of three sons—straight, trans and gay, I have my own take.
LGBTQ people say they’re proud to be gay. Likewise, many folks are proud of their ethnicity. Given a world that often persecutes minorities, I get it. But that can stretch the word. I’m not proud to be Jewish. Nor am I ashamed. I accept my identity and embrace it. For the record, being Jewish doesn’t make me better than anyone else.
Pride can be misused in other ways. Someone too proud to seek help, for example, may suffer from an oversize ego. When, claiming I have my pride, a man or woman in difficulty refuses assistance that might turn their lives—and those of their family—around. Such pride may conceal shame or arrogance.
Pride can also misread the room when it comes to financial success. It’s easy to say I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and ignore the people and institutions who helped. I salute people who’ve built something from “nothing.” But the cases I know inform me that no one lives in a vacuum.
That said, I am proud of all my kids, but not because my trans and gay sons are part of the LGBTQ community or that my oldest is straight. I love my children because of the people they are—smart, independent, moral. When it comes to upholding real values, living with integrity, they don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk. Needless to say, each walk is different. So what?
My straight son (oldest) is a political conservative. He doesn’t live in San Francisco where that might prompt antagonism in some quarters because many people promote free speech only for like-minded others. Our politics are miles apart, but he’s as entitled to his beliefs as I am to mine, and I enjoy his sharing his views with me. I wish he’d do it more often.
My trans son (middle) stands up for himself by being himself in a world that poses numerous threats. Some aspects of his life are similar to mine. Others are quite different. Okay with me. I admit that coming to grips with having a trans son and a gay son was challenging, but Carolyn and I didn’t bring our kids up to be clones. As I wrote in God’s Others, some people consider different to be bad. I consider different to be—different. My trans son is a wonderful, loving son.
My gay son (obviously, youngest) is everything religious conservatives believe to be positive. He works hard (great job), is married, owns a home. People seeking to limit LGBTQ rights would willfully ignore that he’s a loving son, good neighbor, loyal friend.
In sum, my children are what you want your kids to be on the most basic of human levels.
This weekend, San Francisco’s LGBTQ community will celebrate Pride with parties and a colorful parade. (Carolyn and I once marched in it.) Their pride will be displayed to tell the world that they’re no more and no less worthy than anyone. Also, that they’ll never submit to being pushed back into the closet.
Makes me proud.
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