I’ve become numb over the years to homophobia. While the world is definitely changing for the better, it’s still out there. In fact, it seems the more progress that is made toward equality for gays, lesbians and bisexuals the more outrageous homophobia becomes. Nevertheless, like a lot of my gay, lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters, I cover my heart with a shield and let it bounce off of me. Recently, a North Carolina preacher was alleged to have said that kids whom show signs of being gay should be hit. That daughters who act too butch should be made to walk, talk and smell like a girl. Unfortunately, my trusty shield didn’t protect me this time.
His words cut through and hurt as if I were that ten year old girl again being made to feel like an evil alien simply because I was a “tom boy.” What hurt the most though is that in my rebellion against those kinds of words, I buried important parts of me that took years to unearth. As I child, I was accused of wanting to be a boy simply because I played sports, got dirty and despised wearing dresses. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. In my heart I was pure “girl” and refused to bend to a definition that had me in long hair, a dress and baking cookies instead of playing outside and getting dirty. That was all fine and good until I allowed myself to begin to believe that I had to be a certain way in order to be true to myself. I climbed into that box that I created for myself and stayed there for too many years.
Fortunately, those parts of me that I buried would not stay silenced forever. The beauty of trying to learn to live with an open mind and heart is that second chances always arise no matter how much time goes by. That little girl in a dress with long hair was reborn in me as a woman and I love her dearly. Yes, I still play outside and get dirty. Jeans, a pair of Frye boots and a t-shirt are staples of my wardrobe. But, so are dresses and skirts. They make feel pretty and delicate like a butterfly. Sometimes the most interesting journeys are the ones taken inside ourselves. I’m more whole now that I’ve allowed myself to rediscover all the parts of me without regard to what others think I should, or shouldn’t be.
Happiness comes from being true to ourselves and letting others around us do the same. So my message to those sweet souls who may be hurt by the alleged words of the North Carolina preacher, you’re beautiful no matter who you are, or how you express yourself. Reach deep and find your authentic person. To the preacher, just so you know, I’m a proud woman loving woman who can rock a dress as well as a pair of jeans and boots.