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Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy and Proud

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

I would guess that most remember when they came out, who they told first, and I’d also guess that those you spoke to first also remember that. I recently received a post on social media. It said, simply, “I am gay.”

For anyone sensitive to human emotions, it’s not difficult to feel for a person making any kind of a declaration that has to do with who he/she is or what they are dealing with. “I am sick” or “I am in a relationship” or “I have a new job” also carry an element of honesty and transparency coming from the heart. These statements emerge out of a need to share one’s status with others. As such, they are not guaranteed of a certain kind of response, namely positive, so do involve some level of risk in how the recipient will react. But the relief and satisfaction in sharing, a form of behavior that brings out our humanness and unique ability to communicate, is expected to override the fear and anxiety the risk entails.

That relief and satisfaction is immense when the statement is met with acceptance and caring. What contributes more to one’s sense of self more than love and affection from those we care about? Being accepted for who we are underlies the sense of identity, self-worth, confidence, and self-esteem. When I hear adults talk of their childhood filled with criticism, put-down comments, and general neglect, the clarity of the damage that has been done is obvious. Parents provide the first and most important role models we face. Their opinion and behaviors toward us shape our core.

So it is fitting that there is a Pride Month, Pride Parades, and celebrations of this diverse group of people. The happiness one gets out of not being any different from an Italian or Greek celebrating their ancestry, enjoying rights that used to be unavailable, and letting the world know that you are who you are, is definitely a cause to be joyful about. This is also extremely important for those children, young people and others who are struggling with their sexuality. If you have read the New York Times piece, “The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning, you can see the familiar conflicts and pressures in self-acceptance. This is not to condone or condemn her actions in the leaking, but to relate to the tragedy involved in her life from a small town in Oklahoma to today.

However you have reached to where you are today, it’s a time to feel good about marriage equality and all the other aspects of progress in recognition of non-binary perceptions. Judgmentalness of other people’s lifestyles never brings positive thought, good relationships, or happiness. Although I understand how and why people become negative, critical, and unhappy in their insecurity, one has to deal with the fallout from less-than-ideal upbringing, and as an adult, take measures to aim for a more positive and contented way of being. We affect others in our happiness as much as in our unhappiness. It is good to remember that no one lives in a vacuum, and we have a responsibility to our fellow beings, even if one may come to terms with one’s own negativity.

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