A staff member at my son’s school emailed me shortly after classes returned in August. She listened to me on the radio back in the day, and we’ve gotten to know each other in recent years, so the email was more personal than professional. “I thought you’d appreciate this,” she began.
She was visiting Mr. Carter’s second grade classroom and didn’t want to interrupt the lesson, so she stood to the side until it was over. A few of the students were telling something about themselves to start the new year. When it was my son’s turn, he announced he had two moms.
“You’re so lucky,” said one of his classmates.
“I know,” was his reply.
That staff member knew what it would mean to me when she described the scene in her message and relayed that she herself was touched by the experience. And she was right in her assumption; I cried.
I cried not because it was the first time he had said that in public, since he tends to let everyone know who his parents are. He tells everyone from the grocery store clerk to the hairstylist. I cried not because he hasn’t received a positive response to this declaration, since most I’ve witnessed also say he’s lucky to have that kind of family.
I cried because I don’t take those moments for granted. It is my belief that if you experience something harsh or offensive, you should recognize the good that eventually comes from it because it shows your inner wish has come true. The fact that a straight women was sharing how wonderful she thought the moment was also wasn’t lost on me.
If you had told the 22-year-old Melissa who had just moved to Atlanta this story in 1992, she wouldn’t have believed you. She was too busy wrapping her mind around the mass of people gathered at her first Atlanta Pride. I can still remember my reaction to the vast number of friendly faces, all adorned in rainbow colors and cheering the supportive businesses and politicians that passed by on the street. That Melissa would often reflect on the times in high school when she thought she was the only lesbian in the world. And when the crowds followed the end of the parade back to Piedmont Park, young Melissa was right there with them. A baptism of sorts, it was the first time I felt a part of a larger LGBTQ group and knew a new chapter in my life started that very day.
As we return to a more normal way of life and gather again for Pride, let’s not forget the importance of the occasion. Without Pride, so many of us would never have had the confidence to come out. Without Pride, many straight allies would never have understood the need for their support. And without Pride, we wouldn’t be in a place where a seven-year-old boy would have the confidence to stand tall in his claim of who his parents are and be envied by other children.