(by Kailyn Allen)
Find your center.
I know you’ve heard the phrase a million times. Even those of us who use our yoga pants as a uniform for everything but yoga are familiar with the idea of one’s “center”.
It seems to me, much of our time, as humans, is spent going around in circles, thinking in circles, spinning in circles, talking in circles, dancing in circles around our shoes and purses. Some of us even knit in circles. We have life cycles, lunar cycles, vicious cycles, and bicycles.
We also tend to look for ways to connect with others who are like us and add them to our “circle of friends”, or meet at a community center, like the Pride Collective.
We’re kind of a center-centric society.
We seem to agree as a whole, that the stuff that matters the most is kept in the midst of these circles. We look for the ‘hub’ of our communication to network effectively; we look for the ‘core’ of our problems in order to solve them, we look for the ‘heart’ of the matter …well, pretty much, always.
It’s almost as if intuitively we sense that most things can be fixed, as long as its center, its heart, is ok.
Recent changes being made to discriminatory laws, which deny rights to same gendered couples, has shined a bit of a spotlight on the LGBT community. This is great in some ways, but it’s not all glitter and rainbows. There are still a lot of destructive misconceptions being propagated.
One thing that may not necessarily be obvious to a non-LGBT person is that we are not a homogenous blend of like-minded fabulous clones.
Oftentimes LGBTs are represented in mainstream media as being a cohesive unit, usually labeled as ‘gay’ (as in “gay marriage, gay rights, gay agenda”). We do have a certain level of unity among us because we share something sacred and universal at our core. However, for some of us, that’s all we share.
Not all transgender individuals are gay, some gay people have no interest in getting married, not all lesbians are liberals (or mechanics), some bisexuals like to cook and others would rather just order take out. Some of us don’t even have a ‘letter’ to represent us. We aren’t all friends, and don’t all know each other. We are as diverse and varied as everyone else.
We struggle to feel safe and accepted in a society that can be cruel (and even deadly) to those who are not understood, and where understanding is constantly clouded by sensationalist journalism, and exploitative entertainment/media. We also struggle to feel accepted and understood by one another within the LGBT community.
Often, it feels like we are seven different soldiers, in seven different battles, but with only one sword and suit of armor to share between us.
So why are we all trying to fit under this little rainbow umbrella? What is there even about us, that makes me keep on referring to us as an “us” if we are so different?
It’s that ‘something sacred and universal’ at our core that I mentioned earlier.
Today, I brought my children to visit my Nana, who has been the single most important role model I’ve had in my life.
She taught me everything I need to know to be a good mother, and set the standard just out of reach enough, that I will have something to strive for as long as I live. I may remember how to properly season an iron skillet, how to sooth an earache at three in the morning, how to cut the green hair off the cheese and “call it good”, and how to “just say a prayer and keep going”, even when it hurts; but she set the bar pretty high. I’ll never be able to fully capture or pass on all of the ways she is a blessing to our family.
We may be able to tie on the capes of our heroes, but we rarely ever fly as high as they do in our minds.
I did my best to prepare them, but nonetheless when the kids saw Nana, they were a little uneasy. Having just had two heart attacks after a foot surgery, she was not herself. My youngest daughter asked her if she was feeling better. “I’m fine.” She said, in true Midwestern fashion. “My foot still hurts,…but I’m tough.”
“Yeah.” my daughter said, “…and your heart is tough too, huh?”
What does this have to do with being gay (lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, etc)? Nothing.
Neither does the reason we all huddle under the same umbrella seeking shelter from the storms of hate and intolerance. It’s not about being specifically gay, lesbian, transgender …etc.
It’s about being human.
We may have our struggles amongst ourselves, and we definitely have a long fight ahead of us before each of us are treated with dignity and humanity by the whole of society; but at our center is our irrevocable intrinsic worth as humans. That is a pretty solid center.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be all glitter and rainbows, but we can handle it.
Our hearts are tough.