Pride Month: What If LGBT People Met One Another for the First Time?

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The sequence in a romantic drama/comedy can go something like this: Couple goes through enormous, lovey-dovey highs, there is some sort of betrayal, and a fallout takes place.

This relationship, once kindled with romance, seems to be on the rocks, unable to be brought back to life. Time passes and the former love birds cross paths by accident or by fate. Even in the midst of hesitation, they introduce themselves to one other as if it was the first time.

The past hurt, erased. The slate is clean. The anger subsided. There’s a curiosity in meeting one another, again, for the first time.

Granted this is a storyline we’ve all seen at least a time or two in the movies (i.e. not “real life”), I’m wondering how this could apply to LGBT people. Over the years and in our own lives, there’s been heaps of hurt piled on one another.

Discrimination amongst ourselves. Hurt feelings. Hurt hearts. Hateful words exchanged. Some were elevated while others were shamed for their skin color, body type, age, economic status, upbringing, and the list goes on. In whatever form, we’ve scooped up the hurt dished out to us from society, parents, culture, each other and dropped it right on others who identify at LGBT.

There are well-meaning calls for LGBT people to address the hideous ways LGBT people can often treat one another. To resolve to move forward in a new way.

Too often all points of view go unheard. There’s too much pain and hurt wrapped around our ears and hearts. Everyone is yelling. Everyone is angry. Nothing changes. The truth is that just about everyone is hurt. We are a wounded people.

Perhaps this is my fanciful, wishful thinking, but what might it look like to “meet” one another for the first time? To look at our fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters as if the hurtful history in which we’ve pummeled one another is no more.

Is it possible to hit a reset button? Is it too much to ask, “Can we all just start over with one another?”

I hope we can all agree on one thing: How LGBT people treat one another is not as it should be. Far from it. What if we tried to build from a new beginning? A perspective of giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Of our default being that we have each other’s backs. What if we met each other in this way?

Can you look at or even think about an LGBT person you’ve seen as the “other” and see him or her as someone you can stand shoulder to shoulder with? Even when you don’t agree on every single thing. Can you imagine this in your mind, even for a moment? Can you say, “I want to give this a second chance.”

My heart goes out to those LGBT people who have been hurt by other LGBT people in ways I will never know. I don’t want to belittle that hurt or pretend it never happened. But I also wonder about forgiveness and reconciliation. They are powerful elements that can transform groups of people and even nations, without pretending the crime didn’t happen or that injustice can simply be swept under the rug. As Desmond Tutu says, there is no future without forgiveness. The same goes for LGBT people.

I guess what I’m wondering is this: What might it look like for LGBT people to forgive and reconcile with one another? Maybe not on a grand scale, a PR-driven press conference, or parade. But one-on-one. Or could something big be the perfect setting? How might we trade years of hurt, exchanged among ourselves, and transform that into love and kindness?

What if we approached Pride Month this year, laying down our hurts, looking our LGBT brothers and sisters in the eye and saying, “You’ve hurt me in so many ways. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m pissed off. You hurt me. I’m so tired of the way you’ve treated me and I won’t carry this hurt any longer on my own. Come beside me. Let’s carry our hurts alongside one another. We’ll probably hurt each other again in some way down the road, but let’s try to do better. Let’s try to be better for each other. Even in the midst of our egos and imperfection. Let’s give this another try.”

Can we acknowledge that these hurts can’t be healed by yet another round of back and forth arguments, where none of us are heard. What if we made Pride Month a starting point for healing the relationships with one another? Relationships among LGBT people. There is no quick fix and all healing involves pain. But maybe we can hit the reset button.

Maybe we can, together, become the joyful people fighting for justice and equality that I know many LGBT people desire to be and already are. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m a dreamer. But I hope I’m not the only one.

Photo credit: Martin Fisch

Written by

Josh Hersh

Josh Hersh, life coach and entrepreneur, works alongside thoughtful gay men to help them craft a life bursting with joy, love, and purpose. He also works with time-starved freelancers and solopreneurs to boost productivity and grow their business. He founded The Thoughtful Gay Man, whose mission is to create a world where every gay man lives empowered and from the heart. He currently lives in Chicago with his boyfriend, Sergio.
  • An older gentleman (55) came up to me at breakfast while I was by myself to tell me how handsome I was. We chatted for a little bit and I learned that he just came out three years ago after divorcing his wife of 20+ years and was out looking for love. I gave him some advice (expanding outside of Grindr!) and a big hug goodbye. He thanked me for my kindness and I realized after letting his compliment in that I was proud to be demonstrating and being how I want my gay brothers to treat each other.