Inclusion is Everything

“We are less when we don’t include everyone” – Stuart Milk

I meant to finish my tale of the Gurski Grad trip in this blog post but something happened in my city a week ago (the day before Ottawa’s official Pride festivities commenced) that fired me up. I feel the need to say something, even if writing on this blog sometimes feels like shouting into a void.

Let me begin, however, by stating that you – dear reader – have every right to disagree with what I am about to type but I will not tolerate any hateful comments on my blog. Please keep those kinds of thoughts to the dark recesses of your mind where they belong, they have no place here.

Last Sunday, an event was held in Ottawa which has become increasingly and delightfully common in my corner of the world: Drag Queen Story Time. This was a family-friendly, open and inclusive event where local drag queen Adrianna Exposee read stories to the children and their parents in attendance. 

This event could have been a lovely moment for the Bells Corners community in West-Ottawa where it was held. Parents brought their children to the free activity looking to teach them about the beautiful spectrum of sexual and gender identities that graces this world (and always has, for those who still think this is a modern-day phenomenon…) and how to be open to and accepting of humanity in all its fantastic layered complexity.

While much of the event proceeded in this fashion, unfortunately a small group of arrogant protesters decided to ruin the fun by staging an unwelcome disruption. As Ms. Exposee stood calmly and tried to tell the man yelling at her to leave, parents either removed their children from the room to avoid subjecting them to such vitriol or stood up to the protesters imploring them to leave what had up until that moment been a fun and inviting event.

I don’t know what I would have done in the same situation but what I do know is that the parents weren’t removing their children from the situation due to the fact that a drag queen was reading stories to them. They were removing their children due to the vile hatred spewing from this man’s mouth. 

Originally, my response to this hurtful and unnecessary intrusion on a wonderful event was to write an open letter to the protesters. However, as often happens when one feels anger, I found myself getting more and more worked-up and beginning to write hateful things myself in an attempt to express how fed up I was with this kind of ignorance.

So, instead, in honour of the little one I am currently harbouring (due in January), I decided to write a letter to our first child. Consider this my promise to do my small part to fill this world with more openness and understanding, one new life at a time.

Dear Little One,

I have my worries about the world we are bringing you into. Though it may never have been easy, being a human on this planet is complicated right now. So many causes and crises need our urgent attention and it is going to take all of us working together to make things better. Far too many people are resisting change with all their might, for many reasons. The protesters at the Story-Time event are just one small example of this – though one that struck a particular chord with me.

As much as I would like to, I can’t promise that you will always like what you see in the world around you. Humans can be greedy, selfish, manipulative and cruel. They can inflict so much harm on the life they share this planet with – often for personal gain or simply the feeling of “being right”.

But here’s the thing, I can promise that your dad and I are going to do everything in our power to show you the other side of the coin: humanity’s incredible capacity for immense love and compassion. It isn’t all bad, even if it might sometimes seem grim.

Know this: you are going to come into the world surrounded by an infinite amount of love. While this love can’t shield you entirely from hate, it will always be a safe haven to which you can escape when you feel overwhelmed or hopeless. And it is, and will always remain, unconditional.

Unfortunately, the world may quickly try to teach you that you have to dress/act/walk/love/believe a certain way in order to be accepted by your fellow humans. We will do our best to show you that this isn’t true. Little One, we already love you so very much and we haven’t even met. We know nothing about you – yet – but this hardly matters. Because, honestly, we are just so excited to love you out here in the world for you – whoever that may be.

As much as I would like to think I will always speak up when I see injustice, I don’t know that I will always have the courage to do so. But this doesn’t mean you won’t. Just know that your dad and I are going to make mistakes in this life, miss chances to make a difference, and you will too, but the most important thing is that you move through the world being as kind to others as possible and loving yourself fiercely as you are – because you, my dear, are precious. Don’t you ever let anyone tell you otherwise; they’re wrong.

I hope you will enter a more tolerant world by the time January comes around but, truthfully, this place we call home is still a work-in-progress. Despite this, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, people around the world are working to build a more inclusive and open society, and it’s paying off.

Little One, this past weekend we took you to your first Ottawa Pride. Though you couldn’t know it, we were so proud to have you there with us. We hope this will be the first of many events we can share with you to help you see and experience the beautiful mosaic of humanity. And know that no matter how you identify, who you love, or what you believe, we are going to love the heck out of you. All that we ask is that you afford others the same acceptance. As a wise man once said, we are less when we don’t include everyone.

Thank you for giving us the chance to be your parents, I hope we will make you proud.

And, remember, life is beautiful

xo Erin (or, I suppose, Mom) 

Ottawa Pride Weekend 2019 – You were there, Little One!

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