• StevenF

Loving Loud

Updated: May 19

Ever since I saw David Archuleta's Instagram video post four months ago and wrote my open letter to him, I've been keeping tabs on him, his journey, and his progress in learning to navigate his sexuality.

Recently, he participated in the LOVELOUD Festival, an LGBTQ+ event sponsored by the LOVELOUD Foundation, whose mission is to spread positivity and promote acceptance towards LGBTQ+ youth. The foundation was founded by Imagine Dragons lead singer, Dan Reynolds.

Watching David speak and sing brought tears to my eyes. Such a change in his spirit from just four months ago.

One thing he said in the video and which he also said in his most recent Instagram post (included partially below) really made me take notice.

And that is the phrase, "I know I have been afraid of myself nearly my whole life. And I'm just learning now not to be."

It stabs me to the heart to think of someone feeling afraid of themselves because of their sexuality. And yet, I was afraid once too. Afraid of disappointing people. Afraid of displeasing God. Afraid of losing my salvation. Afraid of never being able to find happiness. Afraid to live. Afraid to end it all by taking my life. Afraid of dying alone. Afraid of hurting those I most cared about. Afraid of accepting myself.

And yet, here I am all these years later. Loved. Free. Happy. Untethered. Comfortable in my own skin. Joyful.

I love seeing that that seems to be where David is heading too.

I look at how people sometimes treat those who are trying to find themselves, and I am saddened. The bills that have come up recently in places like Texas and Florida, for example, will only make those who are coming to terms with their sexuality feel lonelier and more isolated and misunderstood, but it isn't going to stop them from feeling the way they feel. It might just push them further towards self-hate and suicide.

Rhetoric from churches and religious leaders designed to warn followers to avoid what is seen by religion as "sexual deviance" will hurt those souls more than help them. Families ostracizing their LGBTQ+ loved ones will only push them further away, not change them.

I was driving to work the other day through a pretty rough part of town, and I saw a sight that surprised me. A person who I assume identifies as a woman but clearly seemed to be someone who was born a man was walking down the street in a bright red dress and heels.

I was surprised by this person because in that part of town, a person could easily get harassed or attacked for doing that. And yet, I also was so proud of that individual for being brave enough to be who he or she (or they) felt they were. And I was also proud that nobody harassed that person, at least not while I was driving through.

I admit that I sometimes have had my own biases when it comes to gender. As someone who has struggled in the past with my own sexuality, I should be on the front lines in supporting others who are dealing with their own.

And yet, in the past I admit I have not always been as understanding of those who are transgender or non-binary, for example. I have desired to be, but I admit when a friend of mine who I had always known as a man transitioned to be a woman, I initially struggled with it.

As the years have gone by and as I have matured, I think I have gotten better. Meow Wolf, the company I work for, is very good about hiring a diverse array of people of all genders, races, sexual orientations, etc., and that has further opened my mind.

We also have an equally diverse array of guests. I remember one night I saw this one guest (likely assigned the male sex at birth but who now seemed to identify as a woman) wandering around our attraction in absolute wonder and joy. She was wearing a dress and makeup, and what struck me about her was how happy and awestruck she seemed to be, and yet the thoughts kept ringing in my ears: "I bet she's had some hard days and challenges. I bet people have teased her and haven't always been kind to her. I bet she's been bullied."

Maybe, if she was lucky, she didn't have that as her experience. But the innocence and wonder in her eyes made me think, "She deserves to just be happy."

If being who you feel like you are makes you happy, why must others crap all over you because of it? Religious folk who think they're "saving" somebody by making them feel like they have to hate themselves for who they are are not saving anyone; they're more bound to make them feel feelings of self-hate, depression, suicide, and cause them to feel negatively towards God and religion.

I figure [as someone who believes in God] that God is the final arbiter in the matter. I've come to the conclusion that God just wants people to be happy, and what truly brings someone joy is between that person and God and no one else.

I'm still getting the hang of non-gender pronouns. That one is still a challenge for me at times, but I ardently try to be supportive.

I love the foundation's name: LOVELOUD. Yes, we should be crying love from the mountaintops.

I've often felt the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. For really, it's fear that causes people to hate. And don't the scriptures say that "perfect love casts out fear?"

Racism. Homophobia. Hate crimes. Xenophobia. So many of our political division. Don't these stem from fear?

When we love—just truly and purely love—fear and hate are driven out.

Seeing each other. Really seeing each other. And valuing each other for who we are. That's what it should be about.

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