For a straight woman, wife and mother of two small children, I had somewhat of an unconventional getaway this summer. I went to Provincetown, MA, commonly referred to as P-town, which is a small town on Cape Cod well-known for catering to a largely LGBTQ community. It also happens to be an insanely picturesque landscape full of hilly dunes, sprawling marshes and soft, sandy beaches.
I’ve been to P-town before because I grew up on Cape Cod and would periodically take the odd day trip with friends to explore. Once a summer or so, we’d drive all the way out to P-town to walk down Commercial Street, the main drag, chuckling at the sights, looking in the windows of sex stores and meandering in to visit a psychic for $10 or so. I distinctly remember one psychic in P-town telling me I would marry a brown-haired man who’s name began with a “D”…..wrong.
This past trip to P-town was a different experience than my high school excursions, and it wasn’t only because I’m 21 now (though that part 100% made the trip a shitload more fun). This trip, I went with my cousin, Matt, who is one of my best friends and happens to be gay. He’s been traveling to P-town for summer getaways for a lot of years now, and I was able to accompany him for two very, special days. It was P-town’s “Carnival”, which is probably the craziest, most flamboyant week of the summer. The place is packed and there is a big, gay parade on the Thursday, which always has a fun theme allowing for a bounty of outlandish outfits and behavior – right up my alley. This year’s theme was “Mardi Gras by the Sea”. Matt took me to all his favorite spots, and I was able to meet a lot of people he’s gotten to know during his summer stays. Because I was with Matt, I was rolling with the insiders of P-town; he’s friendly with the staff at the inns, the trans-woman who owns the beauty store in town, and the guy who plays at the piano bar and, aside from the myriad friends he introduced me to, I met a lot of new people on my own.
Amongst the dancing, drinking, joking and ass slaps, I managed to fit in some heartfelt conversations with the people I met, too. Almost everyone I spoke to was willing to share personal details of their lives with me and, without fail, a portion of those conversations included a snippet of their “coming out” story and, most resonantly, their loved-ones reception to their sexuality. I’ve thought about this all before, but hearing so many first-hand accounts in a short period of time really affected me. The excruciating process of discussing sexuality with your family, coupled with the ever-more challenging factor of a deviating sexual attraction would be a dreadful process for anyone to endure.
I’m not idealistic. I realize there are many people who are still uncomfortable with homosexual, trans, or gender-non-conforming people. I’m definitely not uncomfortable with alternate gender or sexuality, but I am self-aware enough to admit that I think twice about someone else’s sexual orientation if it isn’t hetero. I want you to love who you love, but I’m curious about you if your sexuality differs from mine, and that is just me being totally honest.
My trip to P-town got me thinking about what it truly means to accept people for who they are without judgement and, truthfully, I think everyone from my generation (and certainly generations before mine) still pass judgement on the LGBTQ community. I would personally like to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to being a good person and do my own part in changing the future for other friends or family in the LGBTQ community. I have decided to talk very openly with my kids starting now, in age-appropriate terms, about the fact that people have a range of preferences. If we truly want to be good people, we have to go beyond tolerance or personal acceptance; we have to help remove judgment from the get-go by educating our kids. We need to stress that being kind is being cool and, let’s be crystal clear, I’m not here to say “everyone gets a trophy”, I’m just saying everyone gets a chance to step on the damn playing field.
Society has made it so painful for our LGBTQ members to be themselves that many members of this group have considered and attempted suicide….SUICIDE. As a parent, if one of my kids was a member of the LGBTQ community, I’d sure as shit like them to want to stay alive at the BARE minimum. Ideally, I want my kids to live in a world where being who you were born as doesn’t have to be shameful or difficult; I’d love for them to live in a world where being nice (or funny) and hardworking are valued beyond all else; I’d adore for them to live in a world where, if you have to go through some shit experience as an adult or a parent, you can at least do it alongside the person you love without having to first make a presentation to everyone you know about the gender of that person.