A Sense of Belonging

“Giving rights to one group doesn’t take away from the people that have the rights already. Everyone can be a part of our world.”

~#2’s commentary during the marriage equality debate

Rally in Rotunda

Yesterday #2 and I biked to the capitol (Phy. Ed….check) to see and participate in the rally for marriage equality.  We talk a lot about civil rights and social justice at home, so seeing this historic moment was a good fit.

#2 has always had a deep sense of fairness.  Sometimes this is a wonderful trait, like when he expresses and will work for his deep sense of social justice and civil rights…but sometimes his deep sense of fairness is not helpful, such as when he is dealing with his siblings!

I have always wondered where this burning desire for social justice comes from.  Because of his dyslexia, he is incredibly sensitive to the world around him visually, auditorily, and emotionally.  His brain takes everything in and he has a very difficult time filtering things out.  He is normally the first to react when he senses something is not right.

I just started the book Reading David: A Mother and Son’s Journey through the labyrinth of Dyslexia by Lissa Weinstein, Ph.D.  She is describing the process she went through to have her son diagnosed and it’s strikingly similar to my journey.  The interesting part is that her son has written part of the book and talks about how he always knew he was different from people around him.  I asked #2 if he always knew he was different, and he said he did, with tears in his eyes.  I can’t help but wonder if he has known how different his brain worked from others because of how sensitive he is.

Yesterday #2 was able to see our democracy in action.  He saw people of all walks of life participating in a historic day.  It was a great lesson in civics.  He noticed that just because your have a clerical collar on, that does not define what side of the issue you are on (yesterday, more times than not it meant you were there to support marriage equality).  He witnessed many people holding signs expressing their joy of finally belonging to part of our society, the institution of marriage.  It was striking how many people were there that, by appearance only, many times don’t fit into the norm of our society.  We saw many same sex couples showing affection to each other, other people with fluorescent hair, people holding signs expressing their bisexuality, etc.  How long have some of these people felt like they had to hide their identity?

A main theme of the debate yesterday was a sense of belonging.  People in same sex relationships were asking to belong.  They were asking for a tolerance of differences.  They want to openly be themselves and able to express their love in the same way that opposite sex couples do, through a publicly recognized marriage.  They want society to accept their identity and who they are.  This debate took a lot of courage from people who have been labeled as “different” their entire lives and told they don’t belong.  Everyone wanted to be included in something that for to long has been for “us” and not “them.”

Yesterday, everyone belonged to society.  People from all walks of life came together in a sign of unity and acceptance.  #2 was amazed at all the people and loved being surrounded by the acceptance, hugs, music, love and joy.  As I watched him beam I realized that a sense of belonging is what he has asked for his entire life too.  He’s always known he was different, and it was pointed out to him continuously throughout his time in public school.  While the class was reading and writing he was told, in so many words, “this is not for you” and put in front of a computer to play a game. He was taught that his dyslexia was a barrier for his life and a reason he would never belong, instead of the gift that it is.  He was even taught that the thing that makes his life so difficult at times, dyslexia, is something that the school district denies is real and refuses to discuss.

He wants to belong.  He wants to be accepted for his differences.  He wants to be praised for his creativity, ability to care for animals and deep compassion for other people, not ashamed of his low standardized test scores.  I can only hope that someday he will feel this acceptance when he re-enters a public school.

I am filled with gratitude towards the MN legislators who voted for acceptance, tolerance, social justice, fairness and love.  What a wonderful thing that our children will grow up in a world where people of different sexual orientations can all experience the joy of a marriage.  Yesterday we honored the golden rule….may that continue into other areas of our society.