PFLAG Moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, temperaments and advocacy styles. One of my all-time favorite PFLAG Moms, Lisa, has a personality and advocacy style that are quiet, gentle, kind and steady.
She’s an elementary school teacher near our home in Orange County where she runs a gender expansive classroom. Better than gender neutral environments, gender expansive environments affirm all children no matter then gender identity or gender expression and allow them to express their interests, find confidence in their strengths and expand their conventional understanding of gender.
PFLAG Mom Lisa helped me create the “Tips for Educators” found in the back of my book and which I use when I speak to youth serving professionals.
Following is a letter she wrote to our local PFLAG chapter. The letter shows Lisa’s spirit, her way of educating and that every voice can be powerful no matter its volume.
“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank
I love those quizzes on Facebook. You know the ones… you answer a series of random questions and it gives you your flower, the personality you most embody, your spirit animal, etc.
For the record, I’m a sunflower, lawful good, and my spirit animal is a buffalo. They tell me what I already know about myself. I’m somewhat reserved, not a mover or a shaker, but passionate about justice, and a peacemaker. Sometimes, I wonder how to reconcile my rather sedate personality with the need to be an activist for the cause of LGBTQ equality.
Last week in the teacher’s lounge I sat with my colleagues having our leisurely 25-minute lunch break. We were talking, as we often do, about our children and what they are doing. I mentioned that my son and his boyfriend had just gone to Catalina and had a great time. A couple of my colleagues visibly twitched at the phrase “my son and his boyfriend.” One of them said that she had trouble with the whole “gay thing” because she was a Christian. I mentioned that I was Christian too. She asked respectfully, “What kind of Christian are you?” I replied, “The good kind!,” we all laughed, and that was that. There was a quiet understanding that maybe Christianity has a broader definition. There have been other conversations, and there will be more.
Each of us, living our lives and sharing our daily experiences with others, taking advantage of those “teachable moments,” is quietly making a difference. We’re helping others understand that we, and our loved ones, are not necessarily who they think we are.
Don’t get me wrong. We do need equality activism. We need strong and aggressive attorneys to fight for the civil rights of our LGBTQ loved ones in the classroom, in the workplace, on the athletic fields, and elsewhere. We need Pride Parades and rallies. But, we also need the gentle activist. It’s all necessary and important.
I know there will be many other conversations, but even that brief conversation gave my friend and other colleagues some food for thought. Living our lives without shame and having open conversations without filtering them is one way to open hearts and minds.
I’ll be marching in the Pride Parades for years to come. I’ll be walking at the AIDS Walks. But, I’ll also continue to have lunch with my colleagues and chat about both of my kids, because it’s a good way to spend 25 minutes and begin to change the world.
I may not be a rose and my spirit animal is not a lion, but I’ll embrace my inner sunflower and know that quietly proud can sometimes get the job done.
PFLAG Mom Lisa