I was an ally to Sarah, first.

Hello, dear friends. I wish I could remember specific details and quotes with clarity and overwhelming accuracy. Sadly, I can’t. High school was a stressful blur of memories and the good ones went with the bad as I let them fade into oblivion. In the 8th grade, through high-school and into the early years of college, one of my closet friends was Sarah. She was quiet, soft spoken and had a great sense of humor. As long as I can recall she loved furry little animals especially her cat, Baby. We both loved books. I can’t tell you know what originally drew me to Sarah. I know that I trusted her in a way that I have trusted very few since. I was a typically teenage girl, obsessed with attention, boys, the mall and liked to push the envelope. I didn’t take my classwork very seriously. Honestly, we didn’t really seem to have much in common. At some point during high school, I remember becoming aware that Sarah was a lesbian. (There was a funny conversation that took place about my boobs that still makes me laugh.) I don’t remember how it became more than an awareness and it became something we talked about. I have no idea if Sarah had a coming out speech that she gave me. If she did, I probably handled it like I did with Preston, “So? So what that you like girls?” What I missed at the time was how alienating this must have been at a Catholic high school with Catholic parents.I didn’t understand the persecution that Sarah risked to be herself. There is no way I could pretend to understand how life must have been for her. I know I did and said the wrong thing at times. I was self-absorbed and didn’t identify what an ally was and that I should be one. I can’t go back and change it now. I was young and dumb and didn’t have the balls to use my white, straight, privilege like I will now.

My first Pride parade was in Portland. I’m not sure the year. I think we were upperclassman in high school or perhaps we had graduated. Sarah wanted to go and I wanted to support her. I remember watching the parade wanting to do more, to be more for Sarah. I knew that we wouldn’t have a romantic relationship but I knew I loved her and wanted to keep her safe from hecklers or other assholes who were encountered. Towards the end of the parade, I remember some Bible thumpers giving us a hard time. .. Oh for Pete’s sake…I’m typing this and Everybody Hurts by REM comes on the radio. SERIOUSLY??? Give me a moment while I cry here…

Ok. Wow. Let me try to collect myself after that memory lane time warp. I remember there were religious bigots that criticized us and assumed we were a couple. There in that moment, I grew up quite a bit. I did not want to distance myself from my dear friend. I’d rather step toward her and claim her and knew with every fiber of my being that MY GOD loved Sarah and every other gay and lesbian person as much as He loved me.

I wish I could say that I kept showing up for Sarah and got involved in activism. I didn’t. I had a series of dysfunctional relationships and got pregnant at 19. I didn’t nurture my relationship with Sarah and I will regret that, always.

However, that pride parade has left an impact on me. Now, that I’m older and bolder I’m willing to sacrifice friendships and relationships fighting for what is right. It’s not just about wearing rainbows to Pride Events but to vote in such a way that all minorities will have the rights that I enjoy. It’s about teaching my children to use their privilege for the benefits of others. To show up for our friends at a Trans Pride March and carry the sandwiches for miles if this is what they need. It is about listening to the people that we are trying to be allies for and doing what they want and need. My job is to support and advocate for my bisexual son. To educate others about the stigmas and misconceptions that bisexual people face even from other LGTQ people.

As I participated in the Portland Pride Parade two weekends ago, I strongly felt like someone was missing. Sarah, the original love in my life that introduced me to Pride. I am the flashy and loud one and I think I was always a bit too boisterous for her. Who knows? Maybe if she saw me that day she would have tucked her head down to avoid the spectacle that is me and my people.

Sarah, if you are reading this, I will always have a special place for you in my heart. The love and support you offered me and the shit you put up with, I didn’t deserve. It made a huge impact on who I want to be. Love you, B

3 responses to “I was an ally to Sarah, first.

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