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About 2 months ago, I started volunteering with Somos Familia. What I enjoy most about it is the dedication that everyone has to affecting positive change. Knowing that people care about something bigger than themselves.
Last week, we had our annual picnic, Día De La Familia.
Now, I had already been to a few events with the organization, but this was the flagship event for the year. Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect other than we would get together, BBQ and have a good time. As soon as I arrive, there was a table setup with an art activity where you could decorate reusable grocery bags. On another table sat a piñata that had “Fiesta” on it. The grill was going, more people showed up and everyone was socializing, meeting new folks.
Once the picnic was in full swing, we started playing some group games. There was a Bingo scavenger hunt, a game that was part “Rock, Paper, Scissor” meets “Entourage,” and we made “identity sculptures” from these furry wire sticks (aka pipe cleaners), and then shared our stories about what they meant. During all of this, members of the LGBTQ community and their family members spoke about their experiences in Somos Familia as well as life in general. I got to hear about how the organization has had a positive effect.
One moment that stands out for me was when the father of one of the volunteers showed up to the picnic. I started to think about how great that was, and in my own head it seemed to be “more special” that he showed up. But I started to ask myself, “Why is that any different?” “How is it not the same as a father who goes to an event to support his straight daughter?” I realized that it didn’t matter, it is exactly the same. He loves and supports his daughter, period.
As a straight man who grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco, I grew up around straight couples/families. We had gay cousins in the family, and I knew what it meant when someone said they were gay, lesbian, or bi, but I didn’t really start to learn about the LGBTQ community until I was in my mid-20s. That moment showed me that I had been conditioned with the mindset that people who identified as LGBTQ were different, not “normal.” Not so much in a negative way, it’s not like I hated them, but I definitely had an outlook that separated them out. But this picnic was a reminder that we’re all the same.
Love is love, family is family and humans are humans.
Another thing that stands out for me was that Somos Familia had created a safe environment with this picnic. And I believe that Somos Familia can be an instrument of change (along with the rest of us) for helping make all environments safe, for everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality or identity.
The question is: How will you help to transform your community into a safe space?