I’ll answer the question again and again.
It’s exhausting, and I don’t even have to answer it that often.
But I’m going to answer it again.
Even – especially – the most well-meaning people, including loved ones, ‘allies’ and beyond, ask it around once a year.
For the moms and dads, siblings, relatives, friends – who want us all to be happy but don’t want to understand or accept what that entails.
Or don’t want to ‘see it displayed in public.’
The question –
We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade?
Because all lives don’t matter yet. Because it’s natural for us to pay attention to lives similar to ours and disregard the others.
Because sometimes, a lot of times, to teach our children the values we keep close, we have to do something. To take action. To speak louder than words.
Because it’s not just about extremists; it’s not just about hate. It’s about turning a blind eye or not trying hard enough to grasp the idea of acceptance and tolerance.
Because it’s about the mainstream happy citizen who may just not understand yet. May not have met someone different yet. May not have a loved one who has come out yet.
Because this is for people with flexible minds. The kind of person who might be open to trying a new food they always thought they hated, but is capable of even higher levels of understanding and deserves to have that chance. It’s for people ready to have a discussion even if they prefer to have their heads in the sand.
Because the parade is an invitation for people with similar values who just may not see the light yet to come and meet other people living other lives.
Meet them in person. Meet them as people.
Because there are people in our schools, offices, supermarkets, post offices who are not that different to us.
In our families. Maybe in your living room, right now.
Because ‘live and let live’ is important in modern democratic societies.
Because society doesn’t work if we’re not reaching out to others instead of creating Others.
Because discomfort doesn’t equal right to prevent.
Because free speech is critical to progressive society – the same one in which we can shop, travel, learn, love freely.
Because your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, office mates, congregants need you to understand. To support. To love unconditionally.
Because we are only as good as we treat other people. Even if they don’t look or act like us.
Because there’s a difference between different and evil.
Because we don’t live in a theocracy.
Because we don’t get punished in society for not keeping kosher or not keeping shabbat or not tithing.
The parade is to help explain that. The parade is to help introduce you to the faces behind your fears and disgust, and to help you let down your guard a little if you dare to be open to it. It’s to show off what you claim are shared values. It’s to prove we all exist, differently, together, with the right to be heard and, if we’re good at what we do, to be better understood.
It’s the right not to remain silent. It’s the right to speak up in a society where a teenage girl is stabbed for existing. Where men and women are gunned down for existing as they are, where they are, where you have the right to choose not to be.
Now let’s go back to this for a second – those of you who ask – We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade?
Can you glimpse the reason, just a little?
Can you understand why it hurts to hear the question, over and over?
What about this one: But why do you need to get married?
Maybe, just maybe, go to a parade – a parade in the spirit of the Jerusalem Parade for Pride and Tolerance – a parade featuring women, men, children and families who just want to live freely.
Women and men who want you to see that they have professions and hobbies and values and beliefs that you may share. Accountants. Tour guides. Programmers.
Children who don’t want to experience bullying for who their parents are. They want friends to come over. They want to stay innocent. They want to feel safe coming to you to talk when the time comes.
Moms and dads who want to believe their kids will have it easier some day.
People who just want a moment of peace, a moment not to hide.
Meet them. Remember their faces.
Then see if you can answer that question yourself.