Recently, I was on my way to Little Rock and stopped at the Starbucks in Searcy, Arkansas. At the checkout counter was this awesome large cup that reminded me of the sixties and seventies (my childhood years). It is white with rainbow stripes. At first glance I thought it said ‘OM”. When I got closer I realized it said LOVE. It is groovy and celebrates Gay Pride Month. Honestly, I really love this cup and what it stands for. You see, growing up in the South and living in a conservative community, things like Gay Pride can make some people nervous or uncomfortable, even me. Why would it make me uncomfortable? I have numerous gay and lesbian friends and have for years. My first business partner was a gay man from Jonesboro who contracted AIDS. I was glad that I could learn and share with my children about this disease and having compassion for others. Unfortunately, he passed away just before the birth of my son Wyatt.
Michael was a great teacher for me and in addition to learning how AIDS is not spread, I learned about tolerance and patience. Unfortunately, I also learned a lot about judgement, hate, gossip, ignorance and fear. I saw how being gay could tear a family apart. I have always told my children there is nothing they could do to make me NOT love them. What I told them about being gay and or being “different” is that the world is cruel. People can be mean. Being different can affect your job, your home and your friendships. My children know that I believe in standing firmly in who they are and that I will always make a stand for them, regardless, but the world can be a motherfucker. Yes, you read it right, I said it. This doesn’t just apply to sexuality, it also applies to religion, race, politics, socioeconomics, gender, diet, meat eating, body type, fads, hair style and whatever else someone is making a stand for.
We now have social media and the internet. Anyone, including me can make a post or write a blog giving an opinion. Often times we write or say things as a response to a trigger. We fail to realize that in our righteousness, we are making others wrong. As well, we tend to react with just as much righteousness when someone shares an expectation, opinion or lifestyle that we disagree with. That
all comes from somewhere. Reaction is your bitch, inaction is your Buddha allowing you to just hear and move on.
Recently I was in a local restaurant and did my normal “Hey girl!” to my young friend who works there. A moment later this person, Lacy, walked back to the table and shared that they prefer gender neutral pronouns when being referenced. My husband and friend were with me and of course we agreed and asked what was preferred. It opened a great conversation and yet, for me, I got hot in my body. I had a physical reaction because I really adore this person and under no circumstances did I want to offend. To be completely honest, I was annoyed a little bit too. That made me very uncomfortable. I was annoyed because anyone that knows me knows that my mouth has notoriously given me trouble. Sometimes I speak too straight (reaction) and this was one more thing I was going to have to watch now.
I am a 55 year old woman who grew up in Memphis, Tn. In my youth, women and men had their places as did people of color, sexual preference, etc. I learned many things that I continue to have to unlearn today. We are all conditioned or domesticated as children, whether we believe it or not, to see things a certain way. From birth we are told how we should be, act, identify, believe. It is typically done in good faith because as parents we want our kids to be happy and safe. As we pass through life we experience mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, teachers and schools, preachers and churches, college and professors, jobs and bosses, relationships and friends. Each of these people and experiences create the lenses through which we see the world, creating what we believe to be the truth. All of this creates our language as well.
Bad habits are hard to break and as sad as it makes me, I have used words or terms to describe people that now I choose not to use. In the past, many words have been used as if I was given some sort of privilege or permission because I was “normal”. What I know now is that just because some stories or words were okay to tell in the past, today those words and stories have the capacity to hurt or offend.
So what does this have to do with a cup I thought said “OM”, that actually says “LOVE” and represents Gay Pride Month? The word Om is Sanskrit for “source” or “supreme”. Among many other things, it represents the past, the present and the future. It is the universal vibration that unites us into one. Gay Pride Month is in June and commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and more importantly to recognize the impact of LGBTQ people in our world. It represents tolerance no matter how different we are from one another. It is about what the cup actually says, LOVE.
Love everyone, yes EVERYONE, including the ones that scare you the most. Love gay, straight, black, white, soldier, peacemaker, meat eater, vegan, asshole, angel, religious, atheist, rich, poor, skinny, large, loud, quiet, and even love Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to love what they do, it means we love them anyway. It is about being patient with
others as we navigate these new ways of being. As we work the muscles of tolerance and change, we love one another and assist each other with the proper language, pronouns, courage and support. It means we don’t hold swords over each others heads and point fingers. It means we move away from our default reactions that come from our conditioning, our ignorance and our fear. It is about the golden rule and doing unto others what we want done to ourselves.
All great philosophies and faiths speak of being one. For me, that means we are all created in the same likeness. Think about that. When we close our eyes and really listen we can feel the sound and vibration in the world around us, in our bodies and in our souls. There are no words, it is just our vibe. The song of one humanity, of pure love. It is the sound of Om. Yes, it’s groovy baby, like
rainbows and love.