Some of you will know this and others won’t, but June is considered Pride Month for the LGBTQIA community. It’s a time where those of us who are lesbian, or gay are encouraged to come out and be visible to our family, friends, neighbors and enemies. It’s not that any of us want enemies, but those who would do us harm are many. We simply want to live a life that is authentic to who we were created to be.

I am more fortunate than many because my family does still talk to me although they wish things were different. There are those who are ostracized, teens thrown out of their parents’ homes or are treated in other violent ways. Although I have been out as a lesbian for several decades, I cannot truly say that I am “proud” to let you know this. Mostly, because it makes me afraid. Yet, I want that fear to change to trust in the goodness of humanity. More importantly, I want our world to change where all people know of their value as a loved human being.

My letter is a call to love. Let us love one another as in working for each other’s well-being. We can disagree about the way life happens or another person’s life, but there is no need for violence or condemnation. In this society where mass shootings are a norm, why would we judge a person for merely loving one another?

Scripture is too often used to demean and belittle many, but especially the LGBT community. Yet, when we look at Jesus’ words, what does Jesus have to say about it? Nothing. Yet, Jesus repeatedly talked about the importance of loving one another, feeding the hungry, choosing to be humble. Jesus’ harshest words were for the religious establishment of his time. He was most often ostracized and condemned for loving and spending time with the outcast.

As a native of a rural North Carolina community, I encourage you to love. Not only to love those who are like you, but to work for the well-being of those who are different. Sometimes it’s as easy as not saying anything harmful. Sometimes it’s as hard as writing a letter. Sometimes it’s as difficult as coming out to a parent or friend. If someone comes out to you this month, it is because you are loved and you matter to that person. I encourage you to be brave enough to love in return. They are trusting you with love and hope.

Robin Whitley

Beech Mountain

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