Every summer, our family celebrates.
The return of sunshine. The freedom of school being out. And just as the season officially starts, we celebrate PRIDE as part of the LGBTQ community.
When my partner and I became parents 13 years ago, Pride was already a summer highlight of ours. It was a chance to see old friends and feel at home. And the excitement of seeing a huge colorful parade filling up the street and sidewalks – it’s always inspiring. That’s our huge, colorful community. These are our people.
Our kids have always looked forward to Pride too. (I mean, what kid doesn’t love a parade?) From families with young children to flamboyant drag queens and everything in between, it allows them to see the spectrum of the queer experience. We hope that this kind of broad celebration reminds them that you can love anyone you want and express gender in the way that feels right to you. It’s so important not just for our kids, but for all kids to celebrate these differences, and to feel like they’ll always have a safe place.
A big part of creating this safe space is building a network of supportive families – both queer and straight. We met a few when the girls were in preschool; others we’ve known since before any of us were parents. Our kids have grown up together. They’ve grown up seeing families who might not look like theirs, but who operate from the same basis of love.
So many kids grow up without this love and encouragement to be themselves. They feel trapped by ideas of “how boys act” and “being a good girl” and struggle to find a place where they fit in. The queer community has been that safe place for my wife and me. Celebrating Pride with our family every year allows us to be visible to the next generation of LBGTQ parents – we’re evidence that it gets better.
This visibility benefits our kids too, as they grow up and find themselves. Part of our parenting is to instill a deep sense of empathy and inclusion – we want them to recognize that not everyone has the same advantages to grow into their best selves. Pride allows us to foster gratitude. It reminds us that we should work to create safe spaces for kids. Whether by immediate, extended or chosen family, we all need to feel loved.
In our everyday lives, we’re a family just like any other — we do homework, have movie nights, play catch, make dinner together. Having two moms is as normal as peanut butter and jelly for my kids.
Part of celebrating Pride is recognizing that we get to have this normal life. We get to be honest about who we are and who we love. It reminds us to be grateful for pioneers who paved an easier road for us and get inspired to make our world a better place together.
Jen Licón-Conner is part of the Highlights for Children creative team. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her wife of 23 years, Mandy, two daughters (ages 10 and 13) and one ornery dog.