Hi, I’m Jill Mortensen. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now, not knowing how to appropriately express the full emotional impact of this incident. It shook me to my core. But, because I have personally seen and felt the tsunami of goodness and love that often follows a thoughtless act, I felt the time was right to unleash that wave.
Three weeks ago, Sydney experienced something truly awful.
Something I had naively hoped would never happen to her.
After school, she was hanging out with a group of friends and they decided to walk to the nearby coffee shop together.
About halfway there, a truck with three male passengers approached from behind. The vehicle slowed as it got closer. And as they passed, two of them leaned out the window and shouted a bunch of disgusting/profane/hateful/threatening/homophobic garbage directly at my girl.
My beautiful, kind-hearted, thoughtful, generous, lovely Syd.
She is such an aware, compassionate young woman. Her creativity and talent knows no bounds.
She serves and loves with her whole heart.
And she also happens to be gay.
Later that night, she just completely broke down and sobbed as she told me what happened and how frightened she was for her safety. She was so upset that someone who obviously knew her well enough to know she was gay would be that willfully cruel.
I felt her whole body tremble as I held her tight and tried to comfort her. Nothing hurts more than seeing your child in pain. Pain she didn’t deserve. Pain caused by the careless words of another. Pain born of discomfort, ignorance and fear. I’ll never forget the night, nearly a year ago, on our back patio when she bravely came out.
But not for reasons you might assume. I cried because I was overcome with gratitude and joy that she trusted me enough to share her truth. I cried because I knew she felt safe. And I thought of the many other LGBTQ kids who have not. I cried because our love for her is and always will be unconditional. And my heart broke for all the precious LGBTQ kids who suffered unspeakable anguish as they felt that parental love withdrawn. I cried because although I knew she would eventually develop the strength of character to process the unkindness, inequality and discrimination she will inevitably face, I knew there would be moments like this.
Love, kindness and acceptance come naturally. We must explicitly be taught otherwise.
I promise to teach my children to love your children.
And I hope you’ll do the same.
I want Sydney to see, with her own eyes, just how much kindness exists in our community. I know there are many quiet allies out there, unsure or uneasy about showing support for the LGBTQ community. I know you’re there, because you send me private messages telling me you’re there. You want to show up. You want to love. You want to reach out. I see you. And I thank you.
But with all the sincerity in my heart, let me say this; now is not the time for you to stay quiet.
We need you.
Sydney needs you.
Our LGBTQ youth need you.
I have been in your shoes. I know the uncertainty you feel. Unsure what will people think. I understand. Really, I do. However, there comes a time when you must choose courage over comfort in order to make a real difference in the world. If you’re ready, I’m here with open arms to welcome and embrace you as a fellow ally and love warrior.
Project rainbow will make your first baby step into a colorful new world of beauty and love an easy one. I hope you’ll consider supporting such a great cause. Visit www.projectrainbowutah.org for details. I’m planning to drive Sydney all through town that week to see what love in action looks like!!
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This story is dedicated to helping people learn to love better, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.