Here in Boston, it’s Pride Day, a day to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Pride events are fun and joyful, but they’re also serious. They happen in June to commemorate Stonewall, a significant event in LGBTQ+ history and a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to ensure acceptance and equality for all.
About five years ago, my kids were among those who founded the Boston Area Homeschoolers’ Queer Straight Alliance. With the help of adult adviser Anna Watson (BTW, you should check out her new book, Girl from the Queendom), they brainstormed a mission statement that included offering support, doing social justice work, educating each other and the community, and planning social events.
At their first few meetings many remarked that they had never experienced feeling unaccepted or discriminated against in the Boston homeschooling community. Then they planned their first event, a bake sale at park day, and the flood gates opened. They learned firsthand about the ambivalence, discomfort, and outright bigotry that had been lurking in their own community, and they felt galvanized and committed to go forward and work on it. Despite the controversy, they went ahead with their bake sale and have been going ever since.
Last month, I had the good fortune to chaperone their drag-themed prom, at which the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made a generous appearance. I even got a photo with them.
It was a great night, full of music, dancing, dress-up, and proud strutting. The BAHS QSA is now part of the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network, working to ensure safe and supportive environments for youth.
Violence against queer youth and suicide rates among them are tragic and unacceptable. Simply by providing safe spaces, we can make a huge difference and potentially save lives. I remember an experience from years ago. I was facilitating a creative writing workshop for teens and a girl who had just dropped out of school joined. Sullen and defiant, she came to the first meeting with arms folded over her chest and long hair obscuring her eyes. She loved to write, her mother told me, but at first she didn’t. After listening for some weeks, she started to share her own writing. When she began to feel safe, her pieces started to get more personal. By the end of that year she had cut her hair short and found the courage to come out. The closed, morose posture she had come into the group with was gone. She stood tall, bright-eyed, and happy. Isn’t that what we all deserve? That’s the crux of my favorite BAHS QSA endeavor, the HEDA Project, which stands for “Happy Endings Deserved By All.”
Whether we go to Pride events or not, we can still support the LGBTQ+ community and celebrate the love and diversity they bring to our world, our families, and our homeschooling communities. For me, being an ally has been rewarding, meaningful, and sometimes, when faced with the harsh realities of intolerance, difficult. It’s also a work in progress, requiring love, patience, and an openness to listen and learn. Today, on Pride Day, I commit to keep on being the best ally I can be. I hope you will, too.