My family is not typical at all. I’m a Latina immigrant with brown skin and a very distinctive Latino accent who happens to be the divorced mother of two biological children with Down syndrome who have a much lighter skin tone and blue eyes.
This complex combination of circumstances has people assuming many things about me and my family. Probably the most common one is to believe that because my children look “white” compared to me, I’m not their mother but their nanny. Another is that, because both of them have Down syndrome, I have adopted them. Further, because of what people see, they assume I’m welfare dependent and that I’ve had no opportunity to ever be personally or professionally successful. I’m happy to share none of these are true.
Still and even though, these are usually people’s first impressions of me, the learning experience has always been more significant than the intentional or unintentional hurt that judgment or prejudice brings to my family and me. From all those assumptions, I have learned the most important lesson: If you in fact care, you should take the time to meet the individual and to listen to his or her own story. If you don’t care, what does it matter to you anyway?
These atypical features that characterize but do not define me, make me feel increasingly connected to my best friend. This man faces his own set of assumptions from other people, as I do – not because of his children or the color of his skin, necessarily, but because he is gay.
- I love him because his constant fight to prove himself worthy is like mine. It’s not easy to feel a part of the statistics and to be judged based on data or discriminatory statements from those who hide their prejudice under political or religious beliefs that they call values.
- Our choices make us vulnerable in many ways. Even though the choice of loving should be always celebrated, it’s not like that in our society. As much as I’ve been judged for deciding to give birth to my own children, the LGBTQ community is constantly judged for embracing love.
- There is nothing more absurd that to be watched twice. There is nothing more abusive and disrespectful than to be observed or analyzed by a stranger, and still, it happens all the time when you look different than the rest. It is ignorant to discriminate based on your own lack of knowledge, but still, social media is full of heated discussions regarding realities that people judge without understanding.
Speaking on behalf of leaders behind similar fights for equality under different circumstances, I would say, none of these things make us weaker, less valuable, or less happy because judgment can be the best incentive to grow a thick skin and to learn to love yourself and the ones who love you. Many times, rejection becomes the best reason to ally up in the name of acceptance. Facing the reality of being pre-judged as individuals who belong to groups facing oppression and discrimination gives us reason to believe that together we can change the future.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. – Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/
Pride month should be universal because love should not be defined or limited by the expectations of those who haven’t discovered yet the greatness of loving in the face of challenges, through tough times, in ways that are judged by others. Pride month should be time to reflect on our obvious differences, but our undeniable similarities when it comes to the promise of building together a world of equity and equality for all, regardless of race, skin color, ability, gender, or sexual orientation.