THE JOURNEY OF BABY TURTLES
Last weekend Mr. Beers and I were thrilled and honored to receive the Community Ally Award at the HRC Gala in San Antonio. They asked us if we'd like to speak, and speak we did. Well, just a little bit. Here's a paraphrased version of our remarks.
Just about a week ago we were on a plane, on our way home from an amazing vacation in Puerto Vallarta. It was a true vacation by anyone's definition, but mostly by own own. The most difficult decision we had to make everyday was not whether to hang out with the Dallas Bears or the Atlanta Bears. It wasn't the decision of which app to use - Grindr, Growlr, or Scruff. The most difficult choices we had to make everyday were 1) which swimsuit to wear and 2) what drink to order once we got to the pool.
It was a wonderful, relaxing time. Every morning we would get up and walk for a mile or two on the beach, enjoying the quiet, enjoying the ocean... And almost every morning we would encounter newly hatched baby sea turtles, making their way from their just-opened shells toward their vast new oceanic home. It's not an easy journey for those baby sea turtles, and some mornings we saw the sad remains of little ones that didn't make it. They may have gotten sidetracked, lost their way, baked in the sun. Or maybe they became the prey of the local birds who looked at them as snacks. Any number of things can happen to them.
And once we got home and began remembering our trip, we started thinking again about those baby turtles. It seems that the journeys of those little ones are not so different from the journeys that a lot of young LGBT people have to make at different points in their lives. In the past year or so we have seen close-up, and have been personally involved in, some of those difficult journeys.
Earlier this year we were able to play host for a couple of weeks to our transgender nephew Kaden and his fiancé Madison. They spent two weeks with us this summer when Kaden was in town for breast removal, chest reconstruction, and recuperation. Kaden is becoming the young man he has always felt himself to be - always known himself to be. We look forward to watching Kaden and Madison build a wonderful life together. They are great kids. We love them. And they are making their journey together with strength and pride.
A few months ago an old college friend contacted us through Facebook. He asked if we might talk to his son. "He's just come out to his mother and me. We are fine with it, but he seems to be having a really hard time. He feels less than and undeserving." We exchanged contact information, and later that night we spent two hours on the phone with a 19-year-old college sophomore. He's a bright young man who aspires to go into public service. His fear is that once people find out he's gay, they won't take him seriously. He is afraid that he will not be able to have a political career. He is anxious, and believes that his abilities, his intelligence, anything he has going for him, will be discounted by the fact that he's gay.
Most recently, a close friend of our family had a child come out to them. A 15-year-old son in the rural South came out to his parents. In 2014 some of us might think this is a non-issue. Some might even think, "A gay son! That's wonderful! Finally someone with taste in the family!" But no, it's not like that. The coming out is not going well. The kid left the house the night he told his parents and went to spend a few days with relatives. The parents in this case have decided to home school their son to protect him from the certain bullying that awaits him on the public school campus at their country school. They are also attempting to keep him from coming out to the rest of the family to protect him from the ostracism they are sure he will encounter from some aunts and uncles and at least one set of grandparents.
When we hear about and/or come in contact with young people like these - young people who are still struggling in 2014 to be able to live their true lives - we are convinced that the work that HRC is doing is important and relevant.
We are honored to receive this award from HRC in San Antonio. We are lucky to live in a great city - to be able to live our true lives in a place and in a time in which we continue to be thankful for the love and support of so many wonderful people. And while we're thankful for this recognition, we know that it really belongs to the whole San Antonio LGBT community and our allies. Owning and operating W. D. Deli affords us the opportunity to see just how strong and loving and supportive our community is, and to see how we truly stand together. Thank you for standing with us.