I often get the question, “where did that opinion come from?” Here’s the thing… I grew up in a town in north central Pennsylvania with 3300 residents that have off for deer season, still say Merry Christmas, and are very, very conservative. I grew up with parents and grandparents that were still married, one older brother who beat the crap out of me growing up, and a plethora of friends. I loved my hometown. It’s where I thought I would return to after I graduated college, settle down, start a family there. As the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. I’m currently living 268 miles away in a city of 30,000 people. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Do I still love my hometown? Yes. Do my views differ from the majority of residents there? Yes.
I’m not conservative. I’m not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I’m very open minded to both sides. But, some of my favorite people are gay. I even know a few transgender and I don’t think they are going to assault me in a public restroom. Shocking, right?… Well, after everything that happened in Orlando this week, I’m truly seeing some of the harsh opinions coming from classmates, teachers, even some of my mentors growing up. I’m seeing people support someone who spews hate every time his mouth opens and it is crushing my hopes and dreams of my beautiful daughter ever growing up in a world where she can be anything she wants to be without judgement and without hate.
So when you ask me “where did that opinion come from?” Let me tell you… All I ever grew up seeing was love. My parents met at 13 and 17. And they’ve been together ever since. They have loved each other for over 30 years. And they never went a day without telling each other that. My grandparents also only express love. They express it for each other, for their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren. All I’ve ever known was how to love. No one taught me how to hate. So when people are trying to say people indeed cannot love who they want to love, why?
What is so wrong with loving someone of the same gender? What is so wrong with letting a person be who they truly feel deep down inside they are? Why do they have to fear holding hands in public, getting married, being truly happy? I may be a small town girl- but my heart was grown to love.
So when parents are asking their children “where did you get that opinion from?” just remember- we got it from you. You may not have said those exact words to us or told us that we needed to believe that, but you grew us and taught us to love and be loved. The majority of people know someone that is gay, trans, bi – but are you a lover or a hater? Did you shut that person out or did you accept them and love them? I hope you loved them. Because that’s what you were grown to do. Love, accept, be kind. Spread love not hate.
This is dedicated to those friends and acquaintances of mine who truly opened my eyes- the ones I’m so happy to have- and the ones that deserve to love and be loved- no matter what. Uncle Donnie, Sean, Curtis, Whitney, Andru, Luca, and Marty. Your stories inspire me to be a lover, not a hater. Thanks for being you. <3
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Compton Photography
It is one of my parents 30th anniversary photos