Thank you for the lessons in love

Pride flags

A group of 20-somethings lined the curb for the final stretch of my city’s Pride Parade route last weekend. They cheered everyone in the parade and high-fived them.

One young woman in a “Gay Pride” shirt added something. She told each of us: “Thank you!”

I’ve heard that so many times over the years. Many dear friends and strangers alike have said thanks for being an ally and joining in the struggle for equality.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I’d say something like, “Of course! You’re welcome.” And I knew that my response was totally inadequate.

Or I’d say that I look forward to the day when we no longer need parades of any sort because everyone is treated as an equally beloved and beautiful child of God. But that response also felt inadequate.

In time, I realized what I really wanted and needed to say when someone thanked me. I wanted to say: You’re welcome. And thank you, too.

Thank you!

First, thank you for choosing to be my friend and loving me. That means more than I can even put into words.

And thank you for the many lessons in love that you’ve taught me over the years.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to live courageously and to love courageously, and to recognize God’s presence in all of it.

Thank you for giving me an example of what it means to be graceful in the face of hatred and discrimination. I will never forget that.

Thank you for showing me what it means to respond to hatred with love, time and time again.

Thank you for showing me how to be persistent, even when justice seems so absent and distant – especially when justice is absent and distant.

Love wins. Always does. Always will.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s important to be myself and to celebrate who I am, even when I’m not exactly sure who I am; especially when some others would like me to be something that I’m not.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to live in a way that’s true to myself and my faith.

Thank you for showing me what it means to love when there’s a cost involved, when you know that simply holding someone’s hand could have repercussions and you do it anyway.

And most of all, thank you for being a visible reminder that love wins. Always does. Always will. Sometimes, it just takes a little time.

For all of that, I say: Thank you! And I love you.