This is a hard post to write, as evidenced by the 12 (nope, now 14) different revisions I’ve made to it. This post was the catalyst. I’ve been working on this for over a month, in the shower, in the saddle, sitting in my horse’s stall watching her eat, in between demanding work projects, while listening to various podcasts in my truck with my son. There’s a tone I’m trying to strike, a line I’m treading between respectfully amplifying queer voices and flying my own ally flag. I’m the best ally I know how to be, as of today, and I know that’s not enough and not how many need me to be, and I’ll keep learning and evolving and trying anyway. According to this article from Vox, I’m not a really…active ally, so this post is my first step to changing that. There’s so much work to do, so many discussions to have, I can’t touch on all them here, just the merest scratching of the surface.
My parents are lesbians, and thankfully they raised me as frankly and openly as they could. I remember skipping school one day, I think it was in May, standing in a line that wrapped around a Portland city block, waiting for them to be married by a Judge in a hasty ceremony on the courthouse steps, among several other couples all trying to get married as quickly as possible, before the law flip flopped again. My parents had never really wanted to be married at that point, as it was pretty much not possible and their relationship was still somewhat new, but it was their way to support and be part of the community (my parent’s memories of this day probably vary, but this is what is coming back to me now). I remember the signs of the protesters, carefully kept on the other side of the street, their loud and gross shouts, and just being puzzled. Why did they care about my parents boring lives so much? That was always my standard answer to those inevitable nosy, ignorant questions from my peers. “My parents are just like yours, boring, they make me do my chores and homework and bring Subway to my soccer games.”
And yet, my folks were radically different from theirs. My husband and I weekly have conversations that include some form of “I never really thought of it that way, or at all”, on concepts that I’ve accepted or processed or considered since I was 10. Birth control? Consent? Gender and sexuality? Emotional and mental introspection? The fairness or not of laws, of enforcement thereof? All discussions and concepts we worked on, discussed ad nauseum, things that didn’t really sink in as important until my late 20’s, conversations I’m already doing my best to frame and shape for my son, growing up a white male in a time when there’s a huge reckoning due and work to carry out and spaces for others to hold beside himself. I am overjoyed that, while listening to the American History podcast about the Stonewall riots, his automatic pushback is “Who you love matters only to you and them, and how you treat folks is what really matters” (paraphrased of course).
Last year I carried a surrobabe for a gay couple in Minnesota, and I dare call myself a distant friend of theirs still. It was an incredibly rewarding journey, and I’m thrilled whenever a new photo of their son shows up in my text messages. I was always firm that I would carry for a gay couple, as I know they face the highest barrier to becoming parents. When questioned about it, I never once experienced any hesitation or pushback on them being gay, though I know it exists, just not in my own, fairly wide circle. Folks were just happy about a cute new baby and curious as to how the process effected me.
Judging by recent responses on social media to corporate “Pride signaling”, it’s time and past for me to be a bit louder in my support, instead of passive. My house now sports a new sign, my truck a new sticker, and Tarma’s saddle pad has a new patch (and more that Tom’s gram is adding for me). These are so small in context, as with the new corporate Pride logos, but deeply important. I never saw any of this growing up, and even though it may be a shameless money grab, I don’t even care. It’s there, it matters, and it gives us space to push back in every comment section. For myself, I’ll be loud in my support in all the places I go, especially equestrian spaces, barns and trail heads and in the organizations I give my time to.
There are so many important conversations to have, but I firmly believe that an official statement of support is required, as the bare minimum. Just look at the response recent Pride related 4-H, Breyer, and Chronical of the Horse articles received. “Why keep pushing your sex choices in my face?” “I’ve never seen any discrimination.” “This is so inappropriate for children!” “Equestrians only care how you treat your horse/how your ride, not what gender you are!” “This is a slippery slope, this divides us, why do we have to focus on this?” My answer to all of these types, regardless if the topic is gender, sexuality, race, what have you, is this: “Has there ever been a poll about how fellow American’s think or view your group? If not, then sit and listen.” Gay marriage may be “more acceptable” today, but I don’t recall ever seeing a poll about acceptance around straight marriage. My peers didn’t ask the kids with straight parents “How do your parent’s do it?” or exclaim “That’s so weird!” when I talked about my mom and her partner. There isn’t a “Straight Diversity and Inclusion” organization at my company, with fireside chats discussing “Estate Planning for Straight Couples”. I don’t have to worry or take crazy special steps that I’ll be able to see my husband and make those awful, needed decisions for him if he ends up in the hospital from a car accident. This doesn’t even touch on the statistics behind being queer, from suicide to job discrimination and everything in life being impacted by your gender or sexuality.
So, this post is to boost my voice and ally ship, as wide as it may carry. Every shade and shadow and stripe, from the most out and loud queer to the scared teen in a deeply unstable situation, I see you, I feel for you, I hold what space I can for you. The world is hard and thrashing, but my corner of it is as supportive as I can make it. I see you however you wish to be seen, I hope and work for a calmer, easier world for you.