I was in Starbucks waiting on a mobile order the other day, and I saw a sign on the wall that said:
Shortly after I first moved to Vermont, a very close friend died in a terrible car wreck. I was not able to handle it well. The death hit me extremely hard. If you go back in time on the blog to December 2015 and early 2016, you’d probably be able to tell some of the pain I was going through. I bring this up because I decided that along with antidepressants, I needed to see a therapist to try and work through my grief. While I found the therapy to do more harm than good due to the therapist I saw, the therapist did make an interesting point that I think is largely true. I have a lot of hidden pain. This hidden pain came in several different forms. I was closeted most of my life. I hid who I really was from most people in my life. I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and did not seek help when I should have. I essentially hid the pain associated with my headaches because I feared people would not take my headaches seriously. (More women suffer from migraines than men, so men who have migraines often hide their pain because they feel it makes them weak.) I also often hid my feelings. I didn’t want people to know how sad I was all the time. So, I hid a lot of who I was from the world around me for fear of being judged for who I was.
I was one of those people who was doing their best not to fall apart on a daily basis. I am also not the only one who hides their pain. I do try my best to be a kind person to those around me. I put on a happy face, even when I don’t always feel like doing so. I always have, and I probably always will. I want to make other people feel better. Wouldn’t we all like the world to be a better place? We live in a time when LGBTQ+ rights (particularly trans rights) are constantly being attacked and threatened. We have made many gains, but the fight is far from over. Voting rights are being attacked because Republicans want to make it harder for more liberal-minded people to vote. Many religious organizations are pushing for exemption from anti-discrimination laws to legally discriminate against those who don’t follow their narrow beliefs. We cannot stop the fight if we want to make the world a better place.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” The change Gandhi referred to can be significant changes like civil rights, but it can also be small changes like opening the door for someone, giving a helping hand when you see someone with their hands full, paying someone a compliment, reaching an item off a high shelf for someone, giving up your seat to someone who needs it more, or something as simple as smiling. There are so many little things we can do for those around us to spread a little kindness. I urge you today to send an encouraging text, make a phone call to say, “I’m thinking of you,” smile at a stranger, or do any number of small acts of kindness. You never know when that small act of kindness can keep someone from falling apart. Let your kindness be contagious.
June is Gay Pride Month, and kindness should be a part of who we are. The LGBTQ+ community has faced many hardships. Instead of treating others the way we were treated, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Pride has always been an event for the diverse LGBTQ+ community and their allies to joyously declare their presence. Let that presence include kindness and acceptance. Pride had its roots in a rebellion against the policing of our lives. Being LGBTQ+ once meant we had a mental illness, and the simple act of wearing the clothes of another gender was illegal. The Stonewall Riots in late June 1969 proved to be a turning point for the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still more to be done. We cannot rest on our laurels. Pride celebrations are a festive “unity in diversity” that is a hallmark of Pride that continually evolves and responds to contemporary challenges. Most of us have struggled with coming out and coming to terms with our sexuality. We often hide parts of ourselves. Pride Month is a time when we can all say, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”