With all the problems facing our world – climate change, over-population, pandemic disease, political extremism, and the like – we’d think that love, at least, would be appreciated in all its forms. Unfortunately, intolerance and bigotry are still widespread, and in some places, growing.
Fortunately, the vast majority of people in our Valley reject such attitudes, and when intolerance is voiced the reaction of the community quickly shuts it down.
Social scientists report that loneliness and isolation is a growing problem in America, and if the world needs anything right now, it’s love, however it happens. Whether love’s found between men and women is irrelevant; caring for one another, regardless of sexual identity, builds a stronger and more resilient community.
Sonoma Valley is home to a diverse population, including a growing number who identify themselves as LGBTQ. They own businesses and homes, work with and among us, raise families just like the rest of us, and make major cultural and economic contributions to the vitality and energy of the entire community. Pride Month provides a good opportunity for us all to acknowledge such contributions, and renew a spirit of welcoming and appreciation.
To those who feel threatened by social and cultural change, we say, “get used to it.” If anything defines the social history of the last 500 years, it’s emancipation. This was true for the enslaved, immigrants, ethnic minorities, and women and it’s equally true for members of the LGBTQ community. For far too long, religious and cultural bigotry towards that community was considered normal and acceptable, but that era, thankfully, is drawing to a close. Our multicultural society is better off for it.
We’re not dismissing the difficulty of social change; it can be challenging. It forces each of us to consider and examine our own values, thoughts, and habits, including sexual habits. In doing that, we often come up against how we were raised and what we were told, and might even force us to reject the values and opinions of our parents, family members, and friends. Change can be scary, but if we are truly committed to an equitable society where people are free to choose whom and how to love, that commitment must extend to everyone.
Love is not a zero-sum game. Just because someone chooses to love a particular person does not diminish anyone else’s choice or chance to love and to be loved. If anything, love is rare and precious, and without it, life can be cold and lonely. When love happens, it’s an occasion for gratitude and appreciation. Feeling pride in oneself for being able to love others and to be loved is always a good thing.