By: Selina Boquet
“Mommy, I’m half gay and half Christian!” My son, Ezekiel proclaimed to me just the other day. He really took it to heart when I told him that when you’re gay, you’re born that way! So if I’m gay, then he must be half-gay! I love the way that children think!
“Sweetie, just because I’m gay and your daddy is Christian, it doesn’t mean that you have to be either of those things. You are your own person! You discover who you are and don’t let anybody else tell you anything different! In fact, you can be gay AND Christian!”
His eyes widened in surprise. That’s it, I decided. It’s time to take my kids to Pride. They need to see that there are more gay people out there than just their crazy mom. The week before LA Pride I told my kids we were going to a huge party where everyone loves and accepts everyone no matter how they dress, who they love, or what they believe. I told them that everyone dresses in rainbow to signify that even though we are all different colors, together we make a beautiful rainbow.
Once Ezekiel learned about the dress code, he instantly exclaimed,
“But I don’t have a rainbow shirt!!” This became his new obsession that week. Savana, my daughter, had a rainbow shirt, but Ezekiel did not. At the end of each question or request he would remind me:
“I’m hungry! I don’t have a rainbow shirt.”
“Can I go play outside? I don’t have a rainbow shirt.”
“Why do I have to clean my room? I don’t have a rainbow shirt!”
When the day of Pride finally came I still had not been able to go shopping for his rainbow shirt. Although I had told him if he mentioned it one more time, there would be no rainbow shirt, I was secretly pleased at his persistence to show his support. We quickly stepped inside of Old Navy on our way to LA Pride and luckily I found one rainbow shirt in the boys’ section. He hasn’t voluntarily taken it off since. I have to peel it off of him, quickly wash and dry it, and he isn’t happy until he’s wearing it once more.
I was nervous about taking my kids to Pride. I didn’t tell many people about my plans because I didn’t want to hear, “Oh that’s not a place for kids.” Before we went, I looked on-line for the kid’s area of LA Pride and I saw a jumper in the background of one of the pictures from previous years. I hope there’s a jumper, I thought to myself.
As we walked into Pride that Saturday afternoon in our rainbow shirts, I was searching for other kids. I didn’t see any at all. Would they have fun without any other kids around? My kids held onto me tightly as the grown-ups towered over them. There better be a jumper, I thought, or I’m going to have to take this up with the planning committee of LA Pride. I wanted my kids to have some fun, positive associations with being gay. Every Sunday when they go to church with their dad, they are shown how much fun it is to be a gay-hating Christian with candy, crafts and puppets. The competition is steep.
We made our way over to Summer Tramp, LA Pride’s newest addition to the annual celebration. It was early in the day and there were very few people still. We stood at the entrance and took in the sight. There were two huge jumpers! One was in the shape of the Titanic and it had a gigantic slide and the other was a double waterslide! There were two brand new swimming pools with lots of floaties to play with and many beach balls to bounce around! Everything looked fresh out of the box and no one was playing with any of these things! My kids were in heaven! We slid, swam, bounced, and splashed until we were plum pooped out!
It was at that time when the party people began to show up and the place was starting to get crowded. Savana and Ezekiel had collapsed on a giant inflatable sun and when I told them it was time to go, they uttered through half-closed eyes,
“But we’re still playing! We don’t want to go yet!” I told the kids it was grown-up time in the pool area and they reluctantly put on their shoes and followed me to the booths. It was time for their lesson on religion and acceptance. I remembered how surprised I had been to see the booths of gay-friendly churches at my first Pride.
As soon as we began our way down the aisle of booths, faces all around us lit up,
“Kids! Oh they’re so cute! Here’s a sticker! Ask your adult if you may have some candy! Take it all!” We quickly became overwhelmed with free pens, bags, sunglasses, and even band-aids! Bringing kids to Pride has great rewards! We approached one booth where they had a little table and chairs, some coloring books and a bubble blower just for kids! It was clean and new, just waiting for my little artists to color away!
When I was finally able to pull them away from the coloring table where they had about five people waiting on them hand and foot, picking up each crayon for them the second they rolled to the floor, we said goodbye and went to talk to the people at the church booths. Episcopal, Methodist, Non- denominational, we hit them all.
“What do the families look like that go to your church?” I asked each friendly booth attendant. They explained to the kids that all kinds of families go to their church, families with two mommies, two daddies, one mommy and one daddy, or even just one mommy or just one daddy. It was so great for me to be able to show my kids that there are many different loving and accepting churches out there where you can be gay and be a Christian. In just a few minutes we were able to visit several different churches that may believe different things ideologically, yet they all agree more importantly that hate is not a Christian value.
Satisfied and sleepy, it was time to go home as the place was really starting to get packed. As we walked to the car, more admirers smiled at our little family, now completely adorned in rainbow pride from head to toe. We looked like a rainbow had just swallowed us whole and spit us out again. My heart soared with a new definition of pride that day.
The rainbow obsession carries on as my kids eagerly covered their rooms, books, and bags with rainbow stickers as soon as we got home. When we went to the movies yesterday I got in trouble with my son because I wasn’t wearing my rainbow shirt. It made me realize that although I have been out of the closet for three years, I’ve never worn my rainbow shirt around them in public. Even though I consider myself a fearless LGBT Activist, I guess I didn’t want them to have to deal with the comments of insensitive strangers.
Yet my son taught me that I don’t need to worry about what some random stranger may tell us. The war is at home as my kids already face bigotry every weekend when they go with their own dad. They do not need a mom in hiding, protecting them from the hate of the world. They need a mom strong enough to stand loud and proud! Hate can scream ferociously, yet love and acceptance can shine louder! The only way that hate may win is if love does not have the courage to speak. Live Loud! Shine Proud! Happy Pride!