While there is still much more work to be done, I’m proud of how far this country has come in its views on sexual and gender orientation. But mostly, I’m proud of those who identify as LGBTQ+ and courageously express themselves freely in a world that has yet to learn how to truly and fully love.
I spent my growing up years in the 1970s and 1980s in the San Fernando Valley, a northern section of the city of Los Angeles. I attended a large, public L.A. high school. I loved those years. It was a period of time during which my character was being shaped, largely unconsciously. It is only with some reflection that I have begun to appreciate the impact of these early years. One particular character-forming memory stands out. I was a senior and was running for Student Body President. A few days before the election, I arrived at school to find the campus plastered with “VOTE GOLD” posters. There were literally hundreds of them. It was the handiwork of a small group of students who had formed a sort of unofficial campaign team in support of my candidacy. I was blown away, slightly embarrassed by what I thought was undeserved support, but mostly deeply grateful. I remember the day that the results of the election were announced letting me know that I had won. As I walked with friends getting ready to leave school for the day, I noticed a letter slightly protruding from the inside of my locker. I pulled on it, opened it, and began to read it. It was a letter of congratulations written by one of the members of the group of students who had plastered the school with posters. It was also a love letter to me from a boy who I barely knew at a time when differences in sexual orientation were frowned upon, to say the least. I recall the shock on my friends’ faces and their unkind words. I have to admit that I was startled as well. There was very little space in the culture at the time for consideration of difference. And as a seventeen-year-old, I didn’t yet possess the experience and maturity to fully honor that boy and his letter. Yet, I also remember turning to my friends and saying something to the effect of, “What’s wrong with that?” I was not being self-righteous, but rather expressing a true sense of wonderment. In that moment, I recognized the courage that that letter must have required. And most importantly, I felt a deep inner compassion and knowing that all human beings, without exception, have a right to love and be loved.
I look back on that day as a moment of pride. Proud of winning the election, for sure. But prouder yet of the character that I was forming. I’m proud that I continue more consciously to shape that character, knowing that there is even more I can and must be doing to support those who remain to this day marginalized. While there is still much more work to be done, I’m proud also of how far this country has come in its views on sexual and gender orientation. On June 1, President Biden issued an official proclamation establishing the month of June 2021 as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month and calling “upon the people of the United States to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, to celebrate the great diversity of the American people, and to wave their flags of pride high.” Mostly, I’m proud of those who identify as LGBTQ+ and courageously express themselves freely in a world that has yet to learn how to truly and fully love. Finally, I guess I’m just proud of being proud.
Frank Bruni, the long-time New York Times columnist stepped down to pursue a career in academia and writing. In his last opinion column, “Ted Cruz, I’m Sorry,” Bruni makes the much needed, albeit belated, case for more ambivalence, ambiguity, and nuance in journalism.
This was a really cool read. The music critic Ted Gioia describes how he decided to become the “honest broker” in an industry in desperate need of one. It has me thinking of what that role might look like in each industry and what it would be like to truly embody it myself.