When I started this blog, I gave myself the pseudonym “Proud Mom”. I deliberately chose the word “proud” to describe myself not only because of the semantic use of the word proud (adjective: feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated) but also because of the popular use of the word “pride” or “proud” within the LGBT culture. To quote wikipedia:
Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements throughout the world. Pride has lent its name to LGBT-themed organizations, institutes, foundations, book titles, periodicals and even a cable TV station and the Pride Library.
June has been designated as LGBT Pride month and since the month is coming to a close, I feel like it is a good time to reflect on the past 8 months since my son came out and state not only what I’m thankful for but also what I am proud of.
If this were a David Letterman Top 10 list, I’d start with the things I’m least proud of and end with the things I’m most proud of. But my brain isn’t quite as organized as that, so in no particular order, minus the fact that I’m putting what I’m proudest of first, I present my list:
- More than anything else, I’m proud of my son. Sometimes I worry that I sort of forget about him as an actual person when I write this blog because I’m so focused on “the cause”. But I am so proud of all he has accomplished over the past 8 months. Obviously, his story begins a lot longer than 8 months ago. But since he came out to us, he has changed remarkably. In a good way. He has actively worked on himself to not be so angry at Judaism. He has realized and actively tried to give people the same respect that he feels he deserves, even when he doesn’t agree with them. He has become more communicative. And he has matured beautifully. I look forward to only good things from him in the months and years ahead. Life won’t always be easy. But we survived some tough times and we will continue to do it together.
- I’m proud of my relatives and friends who have showed how supportive and wonderful they are. Some of them have had to sit through countless conversations with me while I wax poetic about the future of Orthodox Judaism as it relates to LGBT issues and they don’t act like they’re getting tired of it yet. I have friends who send me links to interesting articles about LGBT issues, friends who let me know when they hear about another gay kid coming from an Orthodox home, let me know when they go on vacation and encounter an overwhelmingly LGBT friendly city (“Tell your son he needs to check out Seattle when he’s older. He’ll love it!”). All these things – as small as they seem tell me that my support system wants to support us. And it’s amazing. Obviously the serious support means more to me than I can possibly put into words. But I am so thankful. And proud.
- I’m proud of how far the Orthodox world HAS come with regard to this issue. Several of the other Orthodox parents of LGBT people who I have met who have older kids (kids in their 40s and 30s) talk about how they felt so alone for so long. The fact that there are organizations like Eshel and Temicha that have programs for Orthodox parents of LGBT people is amazing. I can lament about how Orthodox Judaism needs to be more progressive about LGBT issues but the fact of the matter is, its come a LONG way and I have to remember that and not get bogged down in the frustrating times. The fact that so many people ARE accepting as they are is amazing. Can it be better? Definitely. Can our schools do a better job? Absolutely. Can the community as a whole change its attitudes? Hopefully. But we can’t be unappreciative of the fact that progress HAS been made and will continue to be made.
- I’m proud of the leaders who do SO much for the Orthodox (and formerly Orthodox) LGBT community. I have mentioned many of them by name before on this blog and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them whom I’ve had the privilege to meet over the past 8 months. I do not think that we would be in as good a place as we are if we hadn’t met these wonderful people. I am proud to call so many of them my friends.
- At the risk of sounding like the person at Thanksgiving dinner who is thankful that THEY do so much to help the world, I’ll end this by being proud of myself. Over the past 8 months I’ve gone out of my comfort zone in so many ways. This blog takes me out of my comfort zone. Not the writing, but the writing so many personal things (even though I do it anonymously). I’ve gone out of my comfort zone to contact people I may not have otherwise met and contacted. I went a a retreat with 30 people I NEVER met before and I had an amazing time. I can’t stress enough how not “me” that is. I’m mostly proud that I have figured out that if I want change, I need to be part of it. And I’m willing to be part of it. Can’t say it doesn’t frighten me on a daily basis because I really prefer not to put myself “out there”. But if I want change, I can’t sit back and think that everyone else will make it happen. Mostly I’m proud that I’ve become much more communicative with my son and our relationship is so much better than it was.
So that’s that. I hope other people have had what to be proud of this month. And always.