Marcia’s Law – Be the Change
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
We arrived at our destination late at night, so we did not immediately appreciate the paradise we were in. Early the next morning, we were elated. A paved walkway through the jungle led from our building to the main lobby and onward to the beach. Our daily treks meandered past flowering plants, colorful birds, iguanas, and a troop of mongoose. What a change from the bleak winter landscape we had left behind.
We visited ancient ruins, snorkeled at a water park, shopped in an ancient city, and immersed ourselves in as much culture as we could. And, I talked to people. I struggled to communicate with my limited Spanish, and they attempted to speak English. Sometimes, we managed a limited conversation. Other times, I negotiated prices. Mostly, complete strangers and I laughed together and enjoyed the moment.
As expected, there were many Americans where we stayed. But, surprisingly, there were even more Canadians. They came from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, and except for the distinctly Canadian accent, by their appearance they could have been from Michigan, Wisconsin, or North Carolina. But they were different from us. And the difference became readily apparent when I brought up the subject of gay marriage.
There was no reticence about the subject. In fact, I was corrected when I asked about the impact gay marriage had on Canadians. I was told that it was simply considered marriage and that marriage equality in Canada was over twenty years old; it was part of the culture and totally accepted. There had been no social upheaval, no compromise of religious beliefs, and more importantly, it had proved a boon to the economy.
I wished Americans could accept the change Canadians embrace so easily. But, I am heartened by the polls that show 53% of Americans now favor marriage equality and that acceptance is gaining by about 2% a year. I am encouraged by the President’s strong position on gay rights at his Inauguration. Mostly, I feel confident now that the day will come where equality for all Americans is a fact of life.
I feel positive that the change will come. The day after I arrived back home, I had the pleasure of speaking to two separate groups of high school students about LGBTQ issues. I asked the students to put themselves in the place of someone who had a secret they could not share with anyone for fear of being rejected. I talked about my own long journey of coming out as a parent; the mistakes I made; the hurt I caused; and, I shared the misunderstandings, my pain, and my growth. Then, I asked for questions.
The questions came slowly at first, but soon the floodgates opened. They asked everything from information about homosexuality to intensely personal experiences. They wanted to know about my extended family, religion, and my feelings about missing out on the traditional occasions. They were curious, open, honest, and amazingly thoughtful.
Sharing with these high school students gave me the real sense that change is coming and coming soon. These young people understand that the boy sitting amongst them might be gay and that a girl in one of their classes might be a lesbian. There might be someone they know who is struggling with his/her sexual orientation or identity. They know it, and they accept it. They embrace differences; they don’t reject someone because of it. They understand that their parents’ or religious teachings against homosexuality do not address the reality of modern day America. They are much like our northern neighbors in their ability to embrace change. And, happily, these teens are our future.
This very large demographic of young people will soon become voters. Importantly, there are many more of them than there are those who wish to hold us back, keep us to archaic standards, and discriminate against those who are LGBTQ. This demographic will shape the change they want to see in the world. They want equality, and it is equality they will get.
Yes, I was inspired by my conversations with the high school students. Little by little, generation by generation, we are becoming more tolerant, more accepting. I am convinced now that the momentum is growing. Nothing can stop it. There will be no turning back; not with these kids leading the way to our future. They are the change we want to see in the world. And I say, “Be that change!”
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…