Choose pride. Choose love.

In honor of pride month, I am going to attend a pride march for the first time ever. Thanks to the wise teachings of my father, gained both from his academic research and love for his gay brother, I have succeeded in being straight but not narrow most of my life, though I continue to learn more about how to be an ally, a process not a destination.

I haven’t attended pride rallies in the past because I sensed there is strength in spending time within a unique community. That is, I didn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.

But I’m called to attend today because I have watched in horror as politicians go out of their way to attack vulnerable children—children!—with legislation that literally seeks to do harm rather than to benefit the people of their states (Florida. Texas. And yes, the stupid North Carolina legislature is trying.) And the current rise of harassment and intimidation must be stopped.

I know the horror I feel about this week’s ruling to deny access to healthcare to half the population—horror and grief that is already echoing in the LGBTQ+ community.

So I want to be there. As usual, I’ll be a quiet presence, mostly on the sideline. But here’s what I will be thinking. Be proud. Choose pride. You are beautiful. Some of you are, frankly, adorable. You show us all the way to be ourselves, and we need you desperately just as you are.

And for those who struggle to understand, I beg you to choose love, not hate. Reject the heavy burden of hate that politicians and con men on the airways and social media have dumped upon you in their cynical pursuit of money and power. Look this time with the eyes of love. Accepting others for who they are does not mean you have to stop being who you are. You just have to let go of hate, and the unbearable pain that goes with it.

Choose pride. Choose love.