There are a number of things I could write to you about today. I could write about how on this day last year, I was on Day 4 of a 5-day hospitalization; your father and I scared that you might be taken from my womb prematurely, and that you might not be the perfectly healthy little baby that you are. I could write about how we just enjoyed a weekend of beautiful, sunny, 80 degree weather, and how the very same weekend last year, it snowed! I could write about how today is Columbus Day, and how the story you’re likely to be told about Columbus in school is grossly inaccurate and incomplete. I could write about the fact you are 11 months old today and that your newest skills include waving, saying ‘hi’, and yelling at the cats. Those topics range from emotional, to trivial, to rage-inducing, to exciting, and while they are all important in their own ways, the topic I’m choosing to write about instead might be more significant than all of them.
Today is National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate and bring awareness to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) rights. As I write to you today, our LGBTQ friends do not enjoy some of the same rights and privileges as our straight friends do. I hope that by the time you are reading this, that will have changed, and that you will be living in a society in which a person’s choice of partner or their gender identification will not be a source of discrimination or a means of oppression. I hope that you will be living in a time when diversity is not merely “tolerated”, but truly celebrated.
Your father and I will do our best to raise you with values that recognize and appreciate love in all of its forms. We will teach you to be aware of the privileges that you receive based on factors beyond your control (like your white skin), and to understand the ways in which you and others are oppressed based on factors beyond your (and their) control. We will help you to discover your own biases, and be honest about ours, and we will all work through them together.
“Tolerance” is a big buzz word these days, and one I am known to use with frequency. It has begun to occur to me; however, that pushing for “tolerance” isn’t enough. Tolerance is a start, and a noble objective, but it shouldn’t be our end-goal. Tolerance means that we will allow diversity, while still leaving us room to judge the differences in others. If I tolerate your father’s tendency to leave his dirty socks next to the hamper instead of inside of it, it means that I’ve chosen to live with it, but not that I think it’s okay for him to do so. It’s not enough for us to “allow” others to be different. That implies that we are “normal” or “right”, but that we will put up with their “abnormality” or “wrong-ness”. We must push beyond tolerance and truly appreciate that people are diverse, and that who people are is who they are meant to be, and does not make them more or less right or normal than anyone else.
Delilah, you will be loved, appreciated, valued, and celebrated regardless of where you end up on the continuums of sexuality and gender identity. You will be free to make your own choices in matters of love and relationships with our full support, so long as those choices do not pose a threat to the health and safety of yourself or others. I’m sure that as you grow up, you will open our eyes to issues that we haven’t considered, and we pledge to approach those issues with an open mind and open heart.