I am lucky to live in Burlington, Vermont where we have a vibrant LGBTQIA community. Not only do we celebrate Pride month in June with the rest of the world, but Vermont also has a week-long Pride celebration in September every year.
The Burlington celebration culminates with a parade and festival where I am among many parents celebrating Pride with our kids.
I like to consider my son’s first Pride to have occurred before he was born. I was enjoying Vermont’s early fall during my pregnancy when I walked upon the city’s Pride Parade on Church St. What a happy discovery!
Now that my son is older, we get to experience Pride together. We talk about the event and plan our outfits ahead of time. At the festival, he loves to watch the drag queen performers and see their beautiful ensembles. We also always make a stop to the park’s playground where kids are playing decked out in their rainbow gear.
Last year, my son asked me something.
Mom, what’s Pride?
My son had previously shared with me his understanding of life: “We are supposed to love everyone.” I took a moment to explain what Pride means to me in a way that a five-year-old would understand. I told him that Pride is a celebration where people are free to be who they are. I reminded him of what he told me, that people are supposed to love everyone. I then explained that sometimes people are mean to others and some people get bullied for who they are. Pride is meant to be a time and a place where people can celebrate who they are and who they love, appreciate all of our beautiful differences and feel supported and loved.
My son does this wonderful thing of using a new word in a sentence after he learns its definition, and I’ll never forget what he said next.
I have pride that you are my mom.
I could tell he understood the meaning of Pride and that he meant what he said. Of course, this mom got teary-eyed and hugged her little one.
Embracing the Spirit of Pride Throughout the Year with Our Littles
Located in Burlington, Pride Center of Vermont is a comprehensive community center that provides programming, advocacy, and health and wellness resources, as well as networking and social events throughout the year.
Vermont also has two great queens who do Drag Queen Story Hour throughout Vermont. We attended one of their events at our local library. The Queen City queens read a couple of stories infused with humor to children and families in attendance, and they supervised a crown-making craft afterward. As a constant borrower of my jewelry, my son was awed by the sparkly jewelry when meeting one of the queens.
While Drag Queen Story Hour was a fun experience for the families who attended, the event isn’t without controversy after an online commentator tried to call for libraries to cancel the events in Vermont. Despite encountering online “haters,” the wonderful thing about the event is that children simply enjoy themselves listening to stories, crafting their crowns, and meeting the local drag queens. They know nothing of controversy or of hate and have a deep appreciation for sparkles.
November is Transgender Awareness Month and celebrates transgender and gender-nonconforming communities and individuals. It is an important part of celebrating Pride with our kids.
Despite Burlington being such a welcoming place where we are able to enjoy celebrating Pride with our kids, I have encountered people who are close-minded. After having a conversation with a parent at one of my child’s activities recently, the parent, completely unsolicited, shared with me their feelings that public schools shouldn’t be trans-friendly. People often share homophobic or transphobic comments or downright slurs while in my presence, assuming that I’m straight and not an ally, as I have a child and apparently “look straight.” Therefore, I am aware of the intolerance that still exists in our community and, thus, I feel that it is important to be a safe place for others and to show my support.
The rate of homelessness and suicide among LGBTQIA youths is believed to be almost 10 times the rate of the general population.
The Trevor Project is an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth.
During National Coming Out Day this past October, I wore my “Free Mom Hugs” shirt. Free Mom Hugs is an organization started by mother Sara Cunningham. Among other work, including advocating for equality, volunteers with the organization give away free mom hugs and high-fives at Pride events, providing affirmation to people who don’t have that support from their own families. It makes me sad that there are parents who don’t accept their children, and I want these kids to know that they deserve unconditional love and acceptance. As a parent, celebrating pride with our kids is especially important to me.
Being queer isn’t without its challenges, but I am grateful to live in such a beautiful, accepting place, and I feel blessed that I get to share Pride with my son every year. I wouldn’t have it any other way.