I really showed up to say that I RESPECT and LOVE anyone who is willing to put their life on the line so we can be free and safe. I think that is an incredibly impressive thing for a person to do, especially for a career. Call it work, or service, or whatever. Most of them make the world a better and safer place for my kids and grandkid. I’m appalled that the man chosen to lead our country would communicate that Transgender members of the military are not worth the skin they’re in (essentially). He claims he won’t even send them into battle. They have prioritized the discipline of their bodies and minds and even their spirits. Many have ventured far from home and loved ones, serving for multiple tours and in doing so, they have suffered great emotional and physical harm. Now they’re suddenly not what? Strong enough? Cheap enough to insure even though the military spends more on Viagra? Straight enough? What exactly is it? I can think of no greater insult for these heroes. I proudly call myself an American even though I was just lucky enough to be born here……and I’m embarrassed of our Commander in Chief and the way he treats the people who serve this country.
As if his words on the topic of Transgender people in the military aren’t harmful enough, they may communicate to every young trans person who is all too aware of how different they are from everyone else, they are officially less than human. Dogs serve in the military. Now these people can’t? How does that strengthen our nation? How does it foster us ever working towards understanding these amazing souls (aren’t we all full of amazing possibility)? Do his words point us towards one another, seeking peace and respect or prompting kindness despite our differences? Or do they blow up the frail bridge that extended between those already deeply divided in our nation? How does it lower the suicide rate? How does it communicate love and acceptance of the person regardless of how they appear or how they define themselves? Is that the message we want to send our kids? What are we willing to do about it? Will we ever reconsider how we approach those who are so different from us (in all areas of our lives) but made by the same God (for those who believe)? For some reason, there’s enough inequality and inhumanity that we are still spending time on this even though there are kids starving to death all over the world. I’m not finished trying to be a bridge between those who harshly judge LGBTQ people (as I once did). However, I am done communicating as if I am apologizing for my passion for living and breathing people who are different. If you want to exit here, I sincerely respect you, but don’t tell me how sorry you are when the kid who usually sits on the front row in church is found dead in his bathroom next week because his pain and torture over your inability to accept him as he was became too great to bear for one more night. Are you willing to have this conversation? It takes every single one of us to do our part. You are either helping to marginalize these people or you’re working to understand what you don’t know and what frightens you, bringing Transgender people into your circles of worship, friendship, and family.
I know young people who seek out opportunity to honestly express themselves on the outside in a way that matches up with who they feel they are on the inside. Their BRAVERY outshines most people in our country. Simply said, every single person deserves the right to be the one and only person who defines themselves. I know I do! I want that for you and for the kids in our nation and moreover in our world! THAT, my friends, IS FREEDOM. It’s no wonder that when I went to friend @Kristin Beck (retired Navy SEAL Team 6 transgender hero) on FB, she had reached her limit for friends! Way to go, woman! I hope THAT tells our kids something! Bravery and honesty should be synonymous with HONOR and PRIDE. So listen up kids! If someone doesn’t agree with you or like you, go find someone else to play with, but DO NOT CHANGE the presentation of who you are. Being yourself is part of how you silence the recordings in your mind of harmful words spoken about you or others like you. You keep leading the way for the rest of us by being exactly who you KNOW you are! Walk with your head held high and remain full of courage! I’m pretty sure you call that being savage! You keep living your truth! Surround yourself with those who will encourage the person you are to come forth. Work on making your will like that of iron and caring less about what others think (I still struggle with this and if everyone was honest, they’d say they do as well from time to time). Though you may have been victimized, work to shake off a harmful and bitter victim’s mentality, choosing to see yourself as something greater than a victim. Your fight for equality will take less effort when you don’t walk like a victim. Being brave costs something, but you are NOT alone and I’m willing to pay a cost (clearly smaller than yours) to stand by, continually learning and understanding how to make life better for you and to bring those whom you love closer. You keep ignoring the haters as best as you can and blaze that trail for the kids in the next generation. WE ALL NEED YOU TO BELIEVE YOU ARE POWERFUL!
And here’s a little nugget for those who practice being faithful…..
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-38
If you need help now and are struggling to choose life, please visit http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now
I spent the weekend in WeHo for all the kids I know. We went to the PRIDE Festival on Saturday and I suddenly wished I was 20. After a burger and 30 minutes of an amazing experience, I left and went to bed! (#old) Sunday morning when we joined the Resist March, I paused for a minute to thank the police officers and sheriffs standing by. Through a few unexpected tears, I told them if it weren’t for their presence, I couldn’t try to make the world a better place for my son and that I needed a peaceful, safe place to do just that! So my makeup was a mess from the start! Then Coop and I met our newly married gay friends plus more of their friends and we stood at the pre-march rally. After many a speech, they held a moment of silence and released enormous purple balloons. Each balloon represented one of the Pulse Orlando victims. The balloons were released by high school students with the hope that they will remember the history of the lgbtq community, see how far it has come, hold on to hope for equality. They encouraged us all to respond to unkind and even hateful people with love, standing firm in the knowledge that they are more than ok and that together we can continue to make great strides for all of humanity. We paused to remember the Pulse victims, the 12 transgender people of color who were murdered this last year, and even some individuals like the “young man” who years ago was tortured and left to die all alone tied on a fence. It was not that long ago. Matthew Shephard’s name a face flashed through my mind and tears spilled onto my face at the thought of his precious and harmless life being cut short in such a horrific way while my own gay little guy was running around in a diaper. All those who have passed so tragically still matter today. Tears welled up and you can bet I marched for that young man! I NEVER want another story like Matthew Shepherd’s to exist again. We sang the national anthem and BOY did they sing pretty! For the first time singing that song, the words, “land of the free and the home of the brave” meant more to me than citizens and our soldiers. It meant to me, everyone responsibly trying to make a good life for themselves AND of course those who are willing to defend us all. WE MARCHED and I held a sign asking on one side for people to stop shaming each other, and on the other side reminding them that tolerance is not love.
Cooper held a sign that would be less of a bridge building communication so we will leave his out. 😅😜🤓
It is a disappointment to say the least to realize the parade was cancelled because the need for the Resist March was greater. By the way, to those of you who think the pride parades are just a bunch of naked people, you are misinformed. So how on earth has equality come down to politics? And yet it wasn’t that long ago that even I was so busy in my happy bubble that I couldn’t see to need to recognize that injustice was all around me and
deserves a chance to live without fear of judgement from others, in freedom and truth, able to say, “THIS IS WHO I AM.” It feels like yesterday in a bad way and I still have blind spots! I asked myself why was it so hard for me to simply focus on myself and let others walk their own path without judgment, and yet it is so easy now? The answer has far less to do with Cooper being gay and far more to do with my expectations of humanity, and my own life’s circumstances forcing me to look humbly at myself and faith from a more honest place. I see a lot of people less willing to simply buy into what they’ve been told. They are doing the heavy lifting of reconsidering. I believe one day at a time, we mobilize together and step towards progress! It’s a GREAT TIME to be ALIVE! It really is!
We were just about to march when I saw this little friend! Her sign choked me right up! I peered into her quiet eyes and sensed a gentle heart. I met her calmness with a tempered version of the same (for as long as I could hold back) and I pointed to her sign and told her, “You are right and I am SO proud of you.” I hugged her. When I stepped back, I realized there were three young girls together. In classic, slightly loud, and very excited Allie fashion, I said, “Oh my gosh there are three of you!!! AND YOU’RE KIDS!!! I’m SO excited you’re here!!!! HAPPY PRIDE!!” They all smiled and I literally wrapped my arms around all three of them. They looked a bit surprised but I could feel the love in their arms as they held me tightly. I want so badly for our kids to have an increasingly kind world. Asking someone to pray away the gay is like saying you can pray away your freckles! I LOVE THAT SHE KNOWS SHE IS EXACTLY AS SHE SHOULD BE. I want “the land of the free and the home of the brave” to have more people like that, gay or straight! Be you, bold in your own way, and full of courage!! Sometimes we parents and adults need a little time to slow down and remember how important it is that you be free to be who YOU want to be, who you were created to be, not who we have expected you to be from the day you were born, living out the future we think is best! How boring! Fear and arrogance is often the driver of that kind of thinking, wanting everything to be just so. Been there, done that! Still do it sometimes!Trials will come and go but equality shouldn’t be one of them! There are many ways to overcome and stand up strong after being knocked down! I love the verse this young lesbian has on her arm as a reminder that life can be hard but freedom from fear is coming, and in her case it involves her faith. “I SOUGHT THE LORD, HE ANSWERED ME AND DELIVERED ME FROM ALL MY FEARS.” Yes, you can be gay and be a person of faith. Some people are afraid they can’t and this girl obviously reconciled the two. YAY!
The march finally ended and I hit the festival and some clubs! You know, I never even went to a bar until last year! As much fun as I am, I left one really rigid life, friends! I laughed inside at how five years ago I would have been leading a bible study and now I’m out living it. Unafraid for the most part and thinking for myself. I am so incredibly grateful for my imperfect life and the freedom I give myself and others to not have everything figured out! It’s free, full of irresistible grace, love, and even peace. I know this the most when I am with people who are marginalized. All I can say is I feel alive and right in the center of part of my purpose. So the fun continued! I got a few pics with people of various ages who know I’d do any thing for them…. and they all come from Christian homes (some accepting and some not). We stopped on the streets and talked to homeless people and gave hugs and love. We danced (and I have no business dancing)! We sang. We sat while some shared with me in such vulnerable ways, that I am forever marked by them as individuals on the whole.
I ran into a few people I barely know but share a depth with like *Brian Terada (you know young people…..always snap chatting! I think it is so funny when they want to take a pic for their Snapchat so I play along in an unpolished way loving every second)! We had a GREAT day!
Wrapping up this post, I would never push my belief on you, but I would like to think we all belong to a divine creator who made us with great purpose and incredible potential! We can make a world that allows space for each to be free and to walk with Pride in who they are every day! Go create the life you want for yourself in this world and CHASE IT, my friends! XO
❤️*NOT EVERYONE who is gay has difficulty in their social circles or their churches. Check out my friend Brian’s video and you will BE SOOOOO HAPPY AND HOPEFUL! His upbeat ways and loving heart are nearly tangible and I promise you will be happy for him!!! Let’s end this on a good note!!❤️
Part of my purpose is to serve as a bridge of love, hope and healing between the church and the marginalized. It isn’t something I desire to do forever. There’s great pressure involved to treat both sides fairly and that sort of goes against human nature when you feel like someone is in need of justice. It requires being willing to walk together, extending hands to both parties, knowing there is terrible pain and disagreement on each side of the bridge and each person is valuable. It’s costs my comfort within the walls of some churches and in almost all of my oldest social circles. It cost me a spot on the worship team at my old church, which at the time was one of a very few things that brought me pleasure to be a part of and made me feel useful in faithful circles. It costs my physical well being as the tension can be so great….but it made me find yoga! Many of these people who are costing me something don’t know they’re hemorrhaging toxic attitudes as the rest of us can’t help but feel they have harshly judged gay people and their allies. Most are generally really good humans and they often help those in need. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Now I go to a church where although it isn’t affirming, I am encouraged to love the marginalized and my pastor is trying to move people towards empowering women as equals, protecting the refugees, accepting not just tolerating lgbtq, and shining a light on the real and appropriate questioning that exists in faithful people when they look at the pain in the world. All these other people on the other side of the bridge, some in my church and most in other churches, they often communicate their “love” for marginalized, but limit their contact with them and won’t give them positions of leadership because they call their behavior sinful. I am therefore limited in my role to one of simple presence and that is really ok because it’s made me maximize my desire to run towards those set aside in even the slightest way. I chase after broken hearts. I race toward those who are older and have survived the repeated blasts sent their way by family, friends, and so-called Christians. I seek to understand what hurts the most so that I can effectively communicate with anyone who doesn’t want to bury their child over something small. Often people don’t realize gay people simply want to love someone who is the same sex….they want to build a good and productive life with a partner, having close circles of gay and straight friends, and possibly showering their own kids in love. Sometimes it’s not that simple, but simplicity still exists if you remain mindful that we are ultimately talking about your kid, my kid, the neighbors kid, and our future generations of humanity. You’d think pro-life, kind hearted people would get that, and it makes me terribly sad that they so often don’t. 😦
In the last year, I’ve seen that most young gay people are desperate to know their parents love them as they are. Completely. Not hoping they will change. Though I sit for hours with these young people, mostly in their 20’s, it only takes minutes to see that often, their eyes hold a story becoming all too familiar. I’m thrilled when this is not the case! I have only found it two times. I see parents don’t even realize this child of theirs wants to walk through life close to them. They feel their parents are inching away because of their sexuality. Maybe some just to figure out how they feel as individuals. But often for longer than that would seemingly take and without much reassurance or relationship. So I find myself listening and holding the adult hand of men and women. We talk and sometimes if they initiate it, we pray. I see the hands I believe God created and the hearts He would never abandon. The same hands were once tiny, chubby, satin soft and dimpled. Some parents held those hands through incubators praying for that little heart to keep beating. Some bent their backs for hours holding those tiny hands while fat baby toes squished in the sand and fatter feet dipped in the edge of the ocean. Those parents hands kept their beloved baby safe in many a setting, holding tightly. They opened up to express love and were an entension of arms that hugged those kids with such immeasurable pleasure and delight! They established a parental trust. Those babies grew to be kids who knew they were loved immeasurably. Parents managed the ups and downs of babies and toddlers, preschool all the way through high school, and all of the experiences. They advocated for their kids when bullied and agonized over it all in the night, only to wake up and relentlessly do it again the next day. They did school projects and lots of first aid. They celebrated achievements of all kinds; sports, academics, the arts, etc. They survived failures and heartaches. This is living, and this is what we do as parents. We send them off to dances, driving, and dating. There are times where we don’t always like them. Yet we remain faithfully present. We want to hear about who they like and why, or what class they’re enjoying or hating. Whatever they want to share, we want to hear! Until they tell us they’re gay or transgender. Capable hands held so tightly often end up opening completely. Feet that led step back and away. Only now these kids are grown enough to feel they’re being rejected. Some are adults and they know they’re being rejected.
Too many kids find themselves sitting next to a red haired woman asking them to tell their story because they are different and she seeks to understand. Why? Because too much of the world feels that what they do in their bedroom defines their overall worth. The hands that should be resting in their parent’s now rest in mine from time to time. That step back that parents and pastors and people of all kinds thought was a tiny quiet one will forever be remembered as a thunder that shook the heavens and the very foundation of established trust in the heart of their child. The longer that person feels their parent has stepped away, the more war-torn their heart and mind become until one day they give up in one manner or another. Give up on family accepting their sexuality, give up on the relationship, or give up on inhaling and exhaling pain for one more day. That’s not always the case. Sometimes parents work hard to understand and the distance becomes minimal or nonexistent. Too many can’t wait indefinitely, as it is hard for us all to deal with the uncertainty of when things will improve. I see no one who would choose this. Going home starts to hurt. Going to church feels like walking around with a scarlet letter on their chest. Unless we all cultivate places that feel completely safe.
MAKE NO MISTAKE. LGBTQ are strong enough to stand alone if they have to in order to be who they really are. They get tired of being made to feel less than, shamed, or second class. And it hardens their resilience and sometimes makes them angry, as it would anyone. One day they just might walk away from you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So what do I do? What can you do? If you can’t come up with anything, you can try some of these things I have tried. I have patience for a time with parents. I tell their kids what it is like to be a parent of a gay son and the terror we experience as we worry for their safety, their hearts, their acceptance, their love lives, their freedom and equality, their faith, their circles of friends, their family, their emotional well-being, etc. I point parents, friends, and family to helpful support groups like PFLAG https://www.pflag.org/our-story. I tell them they might enjoy Rob Bell’s podcast, as he offers more honest ways to see faith and life. https://robbell.com/portfolio/robcast/. I have lots of books and resources for studying theology for those who want it. Try http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/about-walking-bridgeless-canyon/ . I go to a church that isn’t open and affirming, but is in the process of loving all so I can be a part of the pioneering of something new and good, attempting to be full of grace and love and hopefully consistently safe in the mind of a gay person. I remind them we are all learning and hope they can be patient with us. I sit with gay people and we talk about this aspect of their lives. I hug them and sometimes I even kiss their cheek because they are so dear to me. I cry when they cry, or laugh so hard and loud I nearly lose my ability to breathe. I treat them like everybody else, except I’m not afraid to be raw with them because they often know what it’s like to be raw. We end up sharing all kinds of aspects of life and IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL! (Side note: more gay people have come to my aid offering support on a daily basis than straight people since my straight 20 year long marriage fell apart last year.) I remind them that on June 14, 2014, when my own son came out, I only knew one gay man and was acquainted with another gay man. TWO total. People learn and change very quickly when love, faith, and relationship is the priority and the motivation. Sometimes it takes telling them how their step back makes you feel. Everyone deserves their own experience in the process, parents, kids, and the rest of you. I wouldn’t dream of mandating what that looks like. But I do believe that we are progressing towards more people offering overall equality. Moms and dads usually, eventually realize these kids of theirs want them in their lives. It can be a difficult transition and is hard on everyone even in many good circumstances. I also seek to make it known that we all have to remain humble and full of relational stamina in circumstances where people are truly trying to understand each other. I weep for the division among good hearted people. Pastors, doctors, counselors, parents, teachers, and any person anywhere. Their continued refusal to ruthlessly open the issue and wrestle with it will burn down the very things they seek to build. So I am tenderly and humbly pleading with you for the sake of all of our children. Consider getting to know them before you decide it is a choice. Look for resources to help you along. You can imagine what you would do or what you would say if your loved one came out to you, so that you are ready if they ever do. You can teach your kids to be kind. Remember the sting of rejection you surely felt at some point in your own life and ask yourself if you want to be a part of the blast of dynamite to the soul or not. It’s a yes or no question. You either are or you aren’t. Maybe, there is a very, very fine line of shaky middle ground. I suppose true humility would say there is.
I know for myself what it’s like to begin to embrace political and theological differences instead of letting them divide me and those I associate with. It is incredibly freeing and before you know it you are overflowing with love for all of humanity in ways you never knew you could. As someone who calls themself A Christian, I do not doubt for one second that truly and deeply loving and accepting these people who are so different than me, is exactly what Jesus would have me do. I am increasingly aware that each of us is beyond treasured to a divine God. Our worth to him cannot be measured. And so for now I leave the walls of a church on many Sundays to share that love. Or sometimes I sit with them inside those walls!
Those of you who don’t struggle with this and are already giving equality and making a difference in other areas for those who need justice and love, thank you so much. The sons and daughters of so many need your voice now more than ever. All our kids do really! Please stand with them as allies. We think it’s their world but I have had many a gay person tell me, “We can’t do this alone. We need our straight allies.” PLEASE consider investigating how you can be an ally if that seems right to you. It simply means being a friend. I know we can’t all champion every good cause. But it isn’t hard to just be a friend.
If you’re a pastor, or a person in a position of influence and leadership, would you consider giving us under your influence a chance to grow and think for ourselves by creating visibility and a voice for parents of gay people and MOST importantly gay people themselves. Do this by simply letting gay people be seen as the humans they are instead of just opening your door to them. Why on earth do we care what they lovingly do in their bedrooms? Can’t we just let them be and unite forces for good, chasing after how to care for the sick, the poor, the windows, and the orphans? Or will we all continue to needlessly make our gay people spiritually poor and orphaned?
I can only look at bloodied hearts for so long. I have no college education or training on how to handle the view into the pain of others. All I have is a gay son, a bunch of gay friends, a kind heart and the offering of love. No one is making me do this. It is actually an honor. I am not complaining at all. I choose to be a peacemaker for now. But I am telling a story in hopes that you will be compelled to reconsider your views, your actions, and the facts. For now, I possess the grace to be strong on the bridge between us all as I attempt to live out Micah 6:8 one day at a time.
Micah 6:8English Standard Version (ESV)
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?
I can do that. And so can you if you want.
I would add some practical steps you can take as a call to action:
•Parents of LGBTQ kids, don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation with your kids, but let them set the pace in their readiness to answer. They are more than likely wanting to discuss it with you if they feel safe It’s scary for both sides. Stay committed to loving and working out the relationship over time. Understanding follows patience.
•Go to a Pflag meeting (they’re held monthly everywhere) and just listen if you’re too afraid to speak.
•Ask your pastor how you can help your church be more inclusive of LGBTQ people. Ask him to look at Kathy Baldock’s book in the link above for Canyon Walkers. OR, face the strong possibility your kid will become an atheist because they’re so sick of hearing the phrase, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.”
•Rememeber that the Bible is a book that has been altered in translation. Are you willing to look at that? What would happen if you found it had even one error? That really rattles some. Your kid is worth the work of thorough thought if that is the basis for your lack of acceptance. I don’t pretend to have all the answers for those who seek them. I simply and gently ask you to evaluate how much you are willing to risk over faith verses facts. I am a person of great faith! It is of high value. Ask why you believe what you believe in the first place! That can never be bad.
•Willingly educate and have open dialogue with your kids about who gay people are. When Cooper came out, Jack was 7 and said, “Does that mean you want to wear a dress?” And Cooper replied, “No, it means I want to marry a man when I grow up.” So simple!
•This Sunday, there is a RESIST MARCH. STAND AS AN ALLY in West Hollywood! Message me for more info or google it. THIS IS AN AMAZING CHANCE TO GET OUT THERE AND BE A PART OF THE PROGRESS IN OIR SOCIETY! I can’t think of a better way to spend a day many of you would normally be in church. Share your love! It will multiply!!!
PS – To my GLBTQ Treasures – Hearts and minds can and are changing. GOD is working on your behalf to unshackle you in the eyes of the church. Some churches are already there! Thank you so very much for sharing yourselves with me and loving me in all my inexperience. I stand alongside to encourage you, this month especially, to hold your heads high! Not as victims or those who shouldn’t be seen. But as one with PRIDE, dignity, and great, equal worth. Your courage is astounding!!!! I love you with all my heart. I really do. ❤️
PPS – Parents of gay kids, please do not take this post as a criticism of wherever you’re at in your transition with your kid. It is simply meant to tell my personal experience with gay young people. So whether you’re just finding out your kid is gay or you’ve known for 50 years, I completely respect your individual process. If you have been following this story, you know I come from an ultra conservative background politically and religiously. I have only recently been this loving and open to the gay community. So I won’t judge those of you who aren’t sure what to think or do or feel. I love you right where you are and I know how difficult it is to be where you are. BIG LOVE to you.
Look at all the stuff that WE gave away!!! I let the people at the LGBT Center for Youth know just who was funding all of this. Everyone from people like me who have changed and no longer ignore the LGBTQ community, to a little girl in fourth grade who donated her own money. I let them know that people like me will stand by them and recognize they need allies and friends full of kindness and justice to come repair the damage done to their community, especially when they have no home or family to speak of. Then, I turned over the goodies! WE gave the kids at the center so many socks and long underwear! Another friend went around and bought her own socks and chapstick and gift cards AND all kinds of goodies to donate to the cause. A teenager and his mom and little brother made about one billion cookies (total exaggeration but I gave them out on the street and truly wondered if they would ever run out)! Every person who tasted them in front of me LOVED THEM and it was such a personal touch. I chatted with the young and old on the street and called them by name and in my heart, you donors were right there with me. Furthermore, all these people I chatted with asked me how I was, wanted to know why I was there, if I had kids, why my marriage fell apart and I wasn’t with my family that day, how I made it through such a thought year, and on and on. They became my friends and took time with ME! They showed compassion and love to me. WE gave to each other and for a few minutes in the cold on 12/23 and 24, and even part of 25 and 26, our souls connected. And you KNOW I will be seeing some of them again! I’m telling you friends, even though I knew I could not change their circumstances, it was so moving and energizing just to share life and love and to be able to give and receive this way. Especially when I put the softest, high quality, amazing hats purchased locally for a ridiculously low rate (given especially for this cause) from a non-profit social capitalism brand called Krochet Kids (maybe you have seen them in Whole Foods)! That almost jerked a tear or two also because I was able to use the money to buy from this company that is helping MORE people on a consistent basis (follow them on IG @krochetkids or FB @Krochet Kids int’l to see how they are changing the lives of women in Peru and Uganda). It doesn’t get any better than that unless we rid the world of problems altogether! Since we can’t do that all at once, please celebrate the generosity and kindness shown by fewer than 15 donors and see what WE did on this day in December of 2016 (an otherwise comparably poopy year, lol)! SO MUCH LOVE ALL AROUND, FRIENDS! SO MUCH! Thank you from my whole being!
XO – Allie
P.S. – You will be encouraged to see even greater change elsewhere if you take a quick peek at what Krochet Kids is doing around the globe!
*If you read ANYTHING in this post, please skip a couple paragraphs and click the link to an article written by my friend, Sean Black.
I have five kids. They were sick kids for much of the last nine years. We have been told by doctors three times that they’re looking for cancer and they found it with Mollie. One of the boys was thought to have a brain tumor just a year after her tumor was gone, but after months of being very sick and being in a “declining” state requiring quarantine, we found he actually had meningoencephalitis (meningitis and encephalitis) and was sick as a result for many years. That’s barely scratching the surface of all their health issues, but those two things are enough to make a mom of five be consumed for a decade with just keeping everyone alive, loved, fed, and educated. Looking back over ALL their health issues, those years appear like war-torn rubble. Their health is now manageable. I’m happy to report Mollie is in remission for 8 years this month. She was even able to have a baby, something many women with her type of cancer are unable to do.
While climbing out from under the rock of what has now been 20 years of happily raising kids, I am discovering many surprises, pleasant and unpleasant. My kids are growing and going out the door. Mollie is out. I have three in high school this year. And another one who will be around for awhile. I view life so differently than I thought I would as a mom of mostly big kids. I don’t mourn dances or dates or driving and other various milestones at which teenagers arrive. I’m happy they’re ALIVE and living just as they should. I’ve also come to find great purpose as an individual (outside of being a mom to five). Even in the midst of the sudden devastation of a 20 year marriage, there is great, electrifying hope (although it took nearly a year to find)! I’m among people who enrich my life in so many ways. Everyone has a story. I’m positioning myself to learn from those around me whose lives look so different than mine, and also noticing I may have a thing or two to offer, especially in light of what my kids have been through. While I can’t get those difficult years back, they are beginning to yield radiance and great meaning. I’m growing in a desire to be a part in some way of helping others who struggle with similar challenges. I’m learning about people like the the woman in this link. Please read her story of an illness she carried from birth.
This last October, I did the AIDS Walk LA. If you’re new to this blog, this is NOT a pat on the back for myself because I’m not doing anything you can’t do. I’m much like you. I’ll tell you briefly about that event. I was swamped with life and didn’t heavily fundraise. I simply posted on my FB a handful of times and managed to get one financial supporter in two months of asking and she pledged $50 (Thank you, Kelly Satterfield….xoxo). I went because I wanted to learn about people so far removed from my bubble. I went because I wanted to pop that bubble and walk through life together regardless of religion, age, race, or any other demographic that might typically keep our paths from crossing. I went alone to get in touch with whatever I saw when I looked in people’s eyes and heard their stories because I’ve been so far removed from their stories that I literally couldn’t imagine what it is like to be them. And of course, I went with the idea that many people there would be gay. Guess what! In my opinion, gay people are actually, possibly even more fun than straight people (and I don’t pride myself on much but I do pride myself on my keen ability to sense when there is fun to be had and with whom it can be found). But I didn’t really expect this day to be about fun, and it wasn’t. I just wanted to learn something and maybe make a new friend or two.
First, I met an older woman who was representing Hollywood United Methodist Church. She was handing out stickers that said, “HATE is NOT a Christian Value” and that got my attention. I asked her to slap one on my back (after all the colors clashed with my shirt). I asked about her church and then she began to share that her daughter came out to her after she was finished with college back in the 80’s. She shared her experience with me and I imagined how much harder it must have been for parents to stand by their kids 30 years ago. We talked about how she had to find a new church that would not make her daughter feel worthless, and how she found that in this church for which she was volunteering. She invited me to come. I told her a have a church closer to my home where my whole family is quite welcome and all are “safe to belong”. ( https://www.voxoc.com ) I thanked her for paving the way for other kids and parents by accepting her daughter just as she was. I went on my way after squeezing her as tightly as I could squeeze an old woman. I walked around a little more. I knew I was right where I wanted to be when I accidentally met some porn stars and talked with them about their lives. These days, I am drawn like a magnet to people I might never have otherwise approached. I tried not to act like Buddy the Elf upon discovering why they were there. I know that might seem weird…but then I’ve never cared too much about seeming weird!
The walk began and we were off under overcast skies through the streets of LA. What struck me the most was that it was a mix of happy people and really somber people. There were a lot of people walking together as extended family as well as several companies represented by their employees. Music played and kids dance groups cheered on the walkers. One church had its doors opened. Familiar, live worship music played and the halls were lined with tables of snacks where people munched on goodies while waiting to use their restrooms. Back on the streets, protestors screamed stuff into bullhorns on the other side of barricades, and for once, that was very funny because on our side of the barricade, teenagers volunteering for the walk were intentionally drowning out the protestors with their screams and cheers for the walkers. Finally, being around SCREAMING kids was a good thing (one of the few times they can and should be screaming and naturally mine were at home)!
The highlight of this somewhat uneventful course on city streets was the moment I noticed a man photographing walkers. I was standing next to him for a minute after laughing at the kids completely overriding the protestors. We didn’t talk for more than two minutes. That was all it took for me to confess to him that I didn’t know how he could take photos at events like this, actually absorb the experience, AND do good work! He asked if anyone had taken my picture that day. I said, “You mean besides my selfies? No.” So he took my picture. He gave me his card and told me to look him up and he gave me a A&U magazine. I’d never heard of it, no big surprise to you I’m sure. In case you haven’t participated in a fundraiser like this before, people are always giving you tons of literature. I threw everything away that day except his magazine and card. I finished the walk awhile later, drove home, and plopped down to read it. I was totally blown away by how informative and well done it was. I pulled out the business card again and took another look. Who is this guy? Sean Black, Senior Editorfor A&U AMERICA’S AIDS MAGAZINE. I looked up their Facebook profile so I could follow them and continue to stay informed because I have soooooooooo much to learn. I’m a 41 year-old white woman. How do I know so little about how this disease and how it is impacting the world in 2016? I don’t even want to talk about AIDS because I am so ill equipped. Well, I jumped up and wrote Mr. Sean Black an email thanking him for his work and mentioning to him that he should have hope because I never would have imagined someone with such a conservative background like myself would be coming out to support HIV/AIDS and yet, here I am, a fair amount less conservative, much more loving, and I expect more and more like me will follow. The more kids end up feeling safe enough to come out, the more people there will be to come support the AIDS community, not to mention all the other supporters of those who contracted AIDS through no “fault” of their own. I told him how as the mom of a gay son, I am extremely grateful for his work.
Sean and I sent a couple emails back and forth. He was so kind. A few weeks later, I sat across from this white, 48 year old gay man who is HIV+ because he contracted the disease through what he openly shares were his own “poor choices connected to low self-esteem.” We ate, swapped stories and I made all kinds of confessions about what I used to think and where I am today in my beliefs and my conviction that the God in whom I believe, loves us all extravagantly, just as we are. We laughed, I cried, we connected on a divine level.
I realized that something was stirring within my soul while he spoke about having lost so many friends to AIDS, and he shared what it was like to watch them die week after week back in the 80’s, knowing then there was no cure or end in sight, nor were people in political power paying much attention. I decided I am meant to get involved with people who are suffering with HIV/AIDS in the near future. Nothing huge or grand is on my radar. I just want to make time to be with them and I want to share their lives. He let me ask him anything and answered everything he could. He never made me feel negatively for not already knowing those answers. I told him I had one last question. “Tell me this, Sean, what can the church (and by the church I mean all religious organizations) do for people with HIV/AIDS?” He said, “Hmmmm….I’ll have to think on that. I think that’s a bigger conversation for another time when I can answer more carefully.” All I could think was, “Oh no. Please…don’t tell me you have not been asked before?”
We left each other but we chat on the phone and text throughout the weeks that have since passed. I informed him that ready or not, I am his Forever Friend. And I come with a whole bunch of kids so I hope he’s ready! Sean could have been so angry at me and people who come from the same conservative background. Not one time, ever, did he act remotely angry. And it would have been ok if he had! His peaceful demeanor and love for all people overwhelmed me. He inspired me with his desire to believe in the youth of today in the wake of an election that alarms so many. He isn’t asking for a thing from me or anyone. In fact, he is giving to countless people through his professions and his activism as well. He wants to see people living and living well. He wants to see a cure for AIDS. He’s not bitter at people like me who helped to keep him on the fringes of society because he is gay. He’s walked a brutal road and he’s willing to meet me halfway to help me understand what it was like. Maybe I can tell a tiny bit of his story and you will think of someone whom you can befriend. We would have had many differences years back but we have far fewer now, and I found his friendship and vulnerability to be so beautiful given all the division in our country. Sooner or later, if we really want to, we really can come together regardless of our lack of awareness or differences if we keep love, kindness, and understanding at the forefront of our thinking. It is then that loving people for simply being people becomes possible, at least for me.
I’d love to be a part of a world where Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor aren’t remembered for their AIDS foundations, but for the many other talents and passions that drove them. But that’s not where we are so I ask myself, “What can I DO?” I’m reminded that there are many faces of HIV/AIDS and Sean is just one of them. He is first and foremost a human. There are a lot of other words I could use to describe the man I met in LA that day, but simply being human is enough for me to proceed with action. Many people who are HIV+ or have AIDS seek to be seen as individuals who are quite compassionate and actually really want to help others as opposed to people who just want to take from whomever will give to them. They are of great worth to us all. Many are making something beautiful from their lives despite the shame society has cast on them. They’re often treated as Lepers and labeled as irresponsible or worse, even in 2016. I don’t know what that’s like. I know what it means to carry shame. I have a lot of shame about not knowing the stories of people like Sean who watched as his dearest friends suffered and died from AIDS. That shame is different than a shame society places on you as you find yourself completely in the margins and likely feeling quite alone.
You might think getting involved with marginalized people will really benefit them. It’s tempting to me to look and see how I can make a difference in their lives because I’m passionate about them. Let me be clear. It is without a doubt, a two-way street where both people have something to give and something to gain. Both have great value when they share each other’s lives. Especially when they intentionally let go of their preconceived notions about one another. Just like my Forever Friend, Sean did.
I’m not one to decide for anyone else what they should or should not believe. For myself, I believe that a love overflowing in this almost magical way can only come from God.
1 John 4:19-21New American Standard Bible (NASB) 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
Photo taken by: Sean Black, A&U Magazine
Don’t forget to read Sean’s article about the woman born into illness! You can also see some of his beautiful photos on the Facebook page for A&U AMERICA’S AIDS MAGAZINE.
In 2015, a year after my son came out to us, I took my family to a Gay Pride Festival in West Hollywood. He was 17. More to come later on that experience and how it shook me to the core. I saw so much joy and pain there and I got a lot of ideas that day. One thing I planned to do from the moment I went in 2015, and I saw the angry people screaming hateful things, was to come back as an agent of love. When I was little, the first marginalized group of people I loved were those with disabilities. Needless to say, I’ve added the LGBTQ community, although I really wish that wasn’t necessary. I wish there were no marginalized people and all were treated equally and we could focus on things like making sure everyone has enough food and water, etc. However, to me, being present means looking at the place in which I live and the people around me today! So I knew I was meant to do SOMETHING unusual at Pride 2016.
I went on Saturday to volunteer at the PFLAG booth. PFLAG is a support group for anyone who loves a person that is LGBTQ. Some are wrestling with the person coming out, others are strong allies….and to be honest I’ve never even been to a meeting! But I read their emails and I have been doing a lot these days to just learn about gay people. I tend to just jump in the deep end because with so many kids, I don’t always have time to learn new things beforehand and I end up learning as I go! Hey it’s better than not learning at all! The booth and festival experience was awesome but mostly because I met Shawn who was volunteering with me. He graciously shared his story with me and helped me become less green about a few details. Maybe someday I’ll tell you his story. When we weren’t becoming fast friends, we happily handed out pens and wristbands. I won’t forget a woman in her 50’s who stopped at the booth and recalled something to the effect of being much younger and going to PFLAG to get a hug knowing it was the only place where people knew who she really was as a lesbian and hugged her anyway. Can you imagine her story?
I came home and began to think about what I would do for Pride on Sunday. I knew I wanted to go to the parade and make a sign expressing love. I text three options to a gay friend to explain that this was something I knew I was supposed to do and to ask could he screen my three ideas so I could make a sign. I still hadn’t made my sign when I awoke this morning. But I was pretty sure what it would say. Then I saw the news about Orlando and I knew that what I had planned to say was PERFECT for more reasons than I initially thought. I got ready, and this year instead of taking off my necklace that represents my faith for fear of being percieved as one who would wish to condemn them, I put it on so that they would know that my Christianity is precisely why I love them. In fact the actual necklace was broken and I safety pinned it together. I decided I wouldn’t say anything about my faith unless I was asked. My job isn’t to change anybody. It’s just to love. And I was asked.
A couple of family members knew that Cooper and I were headed to pride and suggested we not go at all because of what happened in Orlando and because of the man in Santa Monica who had just been arrested with explosive chemicals and assault rifles in his car (he was headed to Pride). All I could think was, “If well meaning people just want to call and tell me they’re upset and concerned then nothing will ever change. It would be nice if they would say, ‘I’m concerned, how can I help?’ But because they won’t, I have to. I was reminded of a time when I was like them and I told our cousin who volunteered on a bone-marrow transplant floor at a children’s hospital, “I don’t know how you can do that! I would be so depressed!” And then my own kid got cancer and I sat with those parents in waiting rooms and watched them hand their babies over to doctors and walk away collapsing in each other’s arms. It didn’t take long for me to call that same cousin and say, “I take it back….HOW COULD YOU NOT?! What can I do?!” Part of why I am here on the earth is to attempt to make the world better for my son and everyone like him (and anyone who is marginalized and in my path for that matter). So I continued on the freeway, parked, made my sign, and stood right in the middle of Santa Monica Blvd on the median, where the parade route ended at Robertson.
Can I just tell you what happened? My target audience were those IN the parade. Countless people stepped out of their place in the parade to come give me hugs and kisses, some barely keeping back the tears and holding on to me for so long their group had marched on without them. TONS mouthed or yelled the words, “Thank You” and/or “I love you”, while they blew kisses, made the shape of a heart with their hands, or gave me the peace sign. I couldn’t believe it! I just thought I’d talk to a couple young people who might stop for a hug. Oh NO! I had my picture taken more today than any other day by people in the parade and others standing around me! I was shocked! I became such a spectacle that I got interviewed by ABC news, NBC news, some French channel’s news, and some local newspaper I couldn’t even hear the name of, nor did I care by that point. I thanked them all for raising awareness. By the time I was on my third interview I started feeling a little funny because it wasn’t what I came for. I came to send a message to the people of that community. But these media outlets came to me, I didn’t go to them. On the fourth one, I was right in the middle of a great conversation with a lesbian girl who was raised by southern baptist missionaries and who had attended Biola. I had to go find her to chat more since we were interrupted. I always tell these people I will message them on FB and to remember me because I need their help getting educated! And I do! Then I can love more people! I came to LA Pride with my sign to love people like HER. And people like SHAWN. I came for MY SON! I may have come for YOUR SON! And do you want to know why I really came? I came because I want nothing to do with the intentional marginalization of the LGBTQ community that so many people of faith exhibit. I came BECAUSE I am a Christian and I desperately seek to be an agent of healing from a group who has done immeasurable harm. I don’t have all the answers so don’t ask me a bunch of questions. I just know I love God and I love people as best as I can and I still have to work at it because I am just like you….imperfect. That’s good enough for me for today.
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”