I had always thought that “Pride” was a negative word. I used to live in Arcadia, Calif., where there were a lot of peacocks that strutted down our street, ate my flowers and pooped on my driveway. And though they are beautiful birds, the phrase, “Proud as a peacock,” seemed to fit their arrogant ways and disregard for my property. I also know that “Pride” is one of the seven deadly sins, along with envy, gluttony, greed, avarice, lust, sloth and wrath. Yikes, who would want to align themselves with those seven qualities.
Yet, June is considered Pride month … a time to celebrate and embrace all of who you are. And how can that not be a positive thing. A highlight for me this month is the second Pride Flag raising in San Francisco’s Japantown by Okaeri NorCal, which took place on June 4. In Los Angeles, Okaeri held its first-ever Queer Obon on June 17 at the Terasaki Budokan. These are just a few of the many things I am proud of.
Also, recently I got a text from a grandmother, Mary, who I had talked to over a year ago about her transgender grandson. At that time, she was scared, sad and uncertain. I could relate to all she was feeling. I heard all those feelings in her voice, but what I also heard was love for her grandchild, which you could feel ran deep. Now, she sent me a photo of her grandson with his friends at a Pride Parade and simply said, “Call me anytime.” So, I gave her a call.
Her voice was different now. It was filled with joy and awe and happiness. …
Her grandson, Tommy, has opened up her eyes and expanded her world.
When she doesn’t understand something going on in the LGBTQ+ community, he will patiently explain things to her. She is learning and growing. Tommy has friends that care about him and will correct the teacher who uses his wrong pronoun. He is going to summer camp, and all the camp people are looking out for him and his other friends, some of whom are transgender, too.
Mary’s gratitude is unmistakable.
Tommy’s parents are standing by his side, and even without a playbook, they are following their heart. When Tommy was getting bullied at school by another boy, they did not tell their child to “buck up.” Tommy’s parents set up a meeting with the other boy and his parents. The bullying has stopped. I could feel how proud this grandmother was of her son and her daughter-in-law.
And Mary says, “I just can’t get the pronouns right.” But she tells me that Tommy says, “It’s OK grandma, I know you are trying and that you love me.” Tommy is still proud of her, and though she may struggle, she says, “My family and I are on a journey that is going in the right direction.”
And so this month, if you have an LGBTQ+ child, grandchild, friend or family member, I hope you tell them how proud you are of them. Share the ways they inspire you to live more authentically and courageously. But most of all, share how much you love them. We all want to be proud of who we are, but we all want to be loved.
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”