Today on the way to work, tears began to fall. I couldn’t quite pinpoint mentally where they were coming from or why they were coming on now. I was in a good mood, ready for work and going about my daily business. As I drove the pain grew within my chest and my mind immediately floated to Pride weekend. This weekend the LGBTQ community will celebrate their lives, their freedom and celebrate history being made.
They will also be reminded of the 50 lives lost in Orlando. Just as I was this morning.
What happened in Orlando hasn’t hit me until now. I’ve spent my working career trying to keep separate empathy versus sympathy. You need to understand, but your heart doesn’t have to break with theirs. This time was different, this time it did. This time it hit too close to home.
Growing up in a small town, LGBTQ community was something you heard about on TV. It was definitely not something that happened in our town. If it was happening, it was rumors and the talk of the town, it wasn’t a normal way of life. I can’t say that our town was against this lifestyle, I believe we just had a lack of knowledge.
I learned so much when I went off to college, as most do. It was eye opening. I am one where, once I understand an idea, concept or difference, I am on board. Ninety nine percent of my own problem was I just never understood. Didn’t understand wow it works, how it happens or the history behind everything. Once I learned, I accepted and I moved on.
In my world, gay and lesbian couples can marry, it’s now a law. I feel the whole world should be on board. However, I can see both sides of the argument for and against, but at the end of the day, it is not your life, it is not your marriage, it does not matter what others do.
This year a friend disclosed not everyone knows they are a lesbian, because it’s not widely accepted yet.
That broke my heart.
Another friend said he kissed his boyfriend in public for the first time since coming out.
It warmed my heart and broke it at the same time.
People are people. Love is love.
Tears began to fall.
This weekend in the cities is the Pride Festival. Same celebration that happened in Orlando. Same belief of people who were killed. Except this time, it involves friends. It is too close to home. I am absolutely terrified for all of my friends going this year. I can’t imagine my life without any of them. They have made me a better person for knowing them and not because they are part of the LGBTQ community, but because they have more strength and determination than anyone I have ever seen. Because they always extend a hand first and foremost. Because they know who they are and stand behind every ounce of themselves.
Can you even say that? I don’t even know if I have that much belief in myself.