Words. They are simple things. Some words make us smile and get all giddy inside. Some words make us cry. Words are small, but very powerful. There are words that bounce around in my mind, and I have all these feelings at once. I can see this happening to Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. There is one word to describe how I feel about my children: Proud. Most parents are proud of their kids for one reason or another, and rightly so. Listening to their views on the world’s issues is eye opening. Watching the nightly news can get loud, but debate is good. Listening is good.
All my life I can remember there being random kids at breakfast or dinner sometimes. A friend of my brother’s or sister’s. A kid from school might spend a couple of nights. There was an open-door policy at my house. The rule was that the kids had to call home and let someone know their location. We mattered. Our friends mattered. Hopefully, there was a butterfly effect set in motion with each kindness.
A catastrophic ripple is set in motion when teens are pushed out of their families, creating homelessness and potential sex trafficking. My heart hurts for these kids. I do not understand how this happens. Children are not garbage. Teens are not disposable. One in five Gen Z-ers identifies as not heterosexual, according to Newportacademy.com in October of 2022. The pandemic exacerbated family trouble for most of the families. According to The Trevor Project in 2022, 25% of LGBTQ+ persons under the age of 25 considered death by suicide. Half of transgendered persons will consider death by suicide. Denying my children is not an option.
There are stores that we support and some that we shop at because we need to. The house exploded in a cacophony during the news recently when it was announced that Target would be pulling items from its Pride Collection, effective immediately. The kids and I were at Target last week checking out that collection. We wanted to buy everything! There were innovative ideas that may change the world for people. Now there is so much disappointment and disbelief. The pushback over clothes and what they mean to a marginalized community is a ripple turning into a tidal wave on its way to a tsunami.
Products being pulled off shelves because there is a big push by a variety of citizens is no micro-aggression. Customers threatening Target staff is unacceptable. Pressure from far right political groups on retailers has created a problem for the retailer and disappointment in the customers. Hiding or removing Pride products should not be an option. Just walking by a Pride display can feel supportive. Pretending people don’t exist is not OK. I don’t understand the logic of it all. I can’t imagine pretending my children don’t exist because of biology.
June is Pride month, but I am always proud. There are parades, rainbows and lots of glitter. Glitter gets into everything and everywhere. Glitter will show up when you least expect it and bring a smile when you remember what you were doing. Maybe someone will remember that they were at a Pride event and happy. Flags will fly and there will be all kinds of people wrapping themselves in what represents them and makes them proud. I am filled with joy when I see the happiness and love my children are free to express. I can’t imagine a life where I shun my children.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom
with 15-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca, and their 50-pound lap dog, Barnes. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.