Pride begins early

When my daughter was much younger, she declared one day that she found the concept of two men kissing to be “disgusting.”

When my daughter was much younger, she declared one day that she found the concept of two men kissing to be “disgusting.”

It was no surprise that she had spent most of the day at her best friend’s house next door where the family attended a United Reformed Church that — from my limited, outsider perspective — seemed to preach that most everything (infidelity, alcoholism, tax evasion, etc.) was forgiveable, except for homosexuality.

I remember the look of anguish that fell across my wife’s face at our daughter’s sudden declaration as a dozen questions flooded her brain: had we done something wrong? Should we ban her from seeing her friend? How do we break this news to her godfather and his partner?

Before my wife went into premature hysterics, I quickly asked my daughter: “And what about a man and woman kissing?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Disgusting.”

“And what about two cats kissing?” I asked.

She giggled. “Disgusting.”

“And what about . . .” I rushed forward and began kissing her face until she squealed with delight, “. . . dads kissing their daughters?”

“But not outside the house, dad,” she declared.

The three of us then had a family chat about how kissing was a natural expression of affection and love, like holding hands or giving friends a big hug. Full-blown makeout sessions, however, we agreed could be uncomfortable as a spectator sport.

My daughter has grown into a wonderful young woman who is so accepting of others that when her new best friend came out of the closet at the end of high school, she was the first person he opened up to.

It was this thought that ran through my mind as I walked the parade route on Sunday and mingled with the rainbow-adorned crowd at the Pride Festival in MacDonald Park. Everywhere you looked, families — both straight and gay — gathered as participants rather than spectators.

The message couldn’t have been more clear. Pride is about acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves, our flaws and our strengths, as well as full acceptance — not just tolerance — of others.

And someday soon, as this enlightened generation grows, no teenager will be afraid to be true to themselves. M

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