Such a familiar story Louise. I too had never been connected to LGBTQ+ folks before our kids came out and then we all went all the way with as much wearable rainbow stuff as we could find but only AT the different events during Pride season in San Diego. As for wearing things the rest of the year...I had always been cautious just knowing how people are...I didn't have to warn my kids about being cautious because they will absolutely not wear rainbow items if it's not Pride time for events...I think they've learned to be protective of themselves as they are in their 4O's and have experienced a few things. I do wear rainbow earings, or bracelets or T shirts now days after many years of not doing so outside of Pride time. But it's usually just one of the above at a time. I've also wanted to do the bumper sticker thing for many years but just am not quite there yet...only for my car's protection. And actually for one of my kid's protection as well as they are in a profession that requires us to be discreet about that personal part of who they are.

We do have a generic garden flag out front tho that covers most of the important thing we stand for and of course full support and affirmation of Rainbow folks and their families is on it as well...We feel it speaks volumes about us to anyone reading it....It says...In this house We Believe...Black Lives Matter...No Human is Illegal...Women's Rights are Human Rights...Love is Love, Science is Real. The Love is Love words are larger than some of the others and are in rainbow colors. We also have rainbow colored lights peaking out to the street that we have on our front deck. Most everyone on our street are cool evidently since nothing has happened in 3 years or so.... I hope to get to the point of flying a rainbow flag out front someday like the fabulous folks in Hillcrest...

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Beautiful story, Louise!

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Thought provoking writing, Louise. The diminishment of oneself is so real when important bases of one’s identity are hidden because they are not socially acceptable. A sort of erasure of one’s reality, for reasons of sexual identity, race, gender, or — in my case — difficult childhood history.

The challenges for speaking up can also be very real. I am a cis-woman who had a rainbow “celebrate diversity” sticker on my car around 2000 through about 2002. Most people paid no notice to the sticker, but there were 2 unpleasant reactions to it.

Not long after 9/11, I was driving in LaJolla near Scripps Hospital and a big wheeled truck behind me started honking with the driver yelling at me about how disgraceful this sticker was. As he pulled alongside me at a stop light, I rolled down my window. Maybe he wasn’t expecting a kindhearted white woman in the driver’s seat (with an empty toddler’s seat in the back) because when he saw me, the 30 something white male driver became less aggressive; he asked just what I meant by having this sticker and I said, while — I am sure— looking confused, that I celebrate people of all types. He said ok and drove on.

The second instance occurred when my car was parked on the street next to our apartment in Vista overnight. Someone bashed in the side window of my car, filling my daughter’s car seat with broken glass. Nothing was removed from the car. It seemed an act of aggression which I believe most likely (I could be wrong) was a response to my rainbow “celebrate diversity” sticker. I felt fear for myself and my child.

Respectful expressions of one’s self/views are important for identity but also sadly create risk.

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