Not About Me

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday, many of my Facebook friends turned their Facebook profiles “rainbow” in celebration and solidarity. I did not immediately change my profile picture, because it was my daughter’s 19th birthday and I had posted a picture of the two of us that I intended to leave up for all of June 26.

Early Saturday morning, I “rainbow’d” myself. Shortly afterwards, I posted a status that wished Tallahassee runners good luck in a 5K being held that day and commented that I was glad the race supported high school cross country, which was a great cause. It was my first “post-rainbow” post. An acquaintance immediately commented, “Oh great so YOU’RE on that bandwagon now too. Weren’t enough people already?” I responded “I am proudly and unapologetically ‘on that bandwagon’.” Then another acquaintance chimed in with a commentary about the confederate flag. The two of them exchanged barbs that had nothing to do with running. After once asking that the thread be kept to support of runners, I decided to take back my own Facebook page. I deleted the entire comment thread and stated that I was rebooting the thread to “support 101” so that the focus could be kept on running. The phrase “on the bandwagon,” though, had gotten me thinking …

About the road to “that bandwagon”:

When I was in high school, I loved someone. This relationship was one of the first intense loves of my life. I seeded the short-term, unseasoned reality of this teenage relationship with unrealistic hopes and expectations that it would last a long time; this relationship was central to who I thought I was.

When he told me, somewhere in our first couple of years of college, that he was gay, I was crushed and disbelieving. A close adult friend consoled me by sympathetically saying “you’re not strong enough for that” (as if a “stronger” person could overcome this particular reason for a relationship ending). More than one person empathized, “you don’t even get to use femininity to overcome this.”

In an attempt to gain some semblance of hope for the future, I went to a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting here in Tallahassee. This was before “B, “Q,” and “T” (for bisexual, queer, and transgender), among other letters, were part of acronyms for groups like this. What the facilitator said was not what I wanted to hear:

“THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU”

One of the facilitator’s central points was “he has his own work to do, figuring out this part of his identity, and he could use your support as opposed to your misguided anger.” Although it took me decades of life experience after being told “this is not about you” to fully comprehend what that meant, I got there.

I got there when my volunteer responsibilities (and subsequent paid on call supervisor responsibilities) made me one of the first counselors on the Florida AIDS Hotline (since our crisis counseling service held the contract for the AIDS Hotline).

I got there when I became more involved in the FSU Film School community and was witness over and over to acceptance among people representing ALL the letters of the alphabet: L, G, B, Q, T, S – whatever.

I got there when I had the opportunity to be involved in making this:

I got there when time moved on and I realized the person who I thought had broken my heart in the early 80s had actually been fate’s way of squeezing a wedge in a closed door of my heart and beliefs. This wedge let the light in and created a spectrum of color where previously only black and white had existed.

Not About Me