“Being gay isn’t what defines me; it’s just one of the many characteristics that makes up who I am. And if you can’t accept me for being myself, then you’re not worth my time. It’s okay not to understand something, but it’s not okay to be disrespectful.”
THIS QUOTE IS NOT FROM MICHAEL SAM.
It’s not from Jason Collins or any other professional athlete. It’s not from an actor, a singer or an entertainment executive.
It’s not even from an adult.
This quote is from a 16-year-old kid. From his Facebook page, for all the world to see.
Not many adults are mature enough, strong enough, confident enough to “out” themselves in public view. This teenager not only had the courage, he did it proudly. Loudly. He bared his soul and was flooded with love and respect and awe. No admonition, just celebration.
We, this boy’s friends and family, cheered his choice – and rightfully so. Things are different today from what they were yesterday only in that we love him even more.
But this teen’s decision, and countless decisions just like it by other teens, should also give us pause. It should compel us to reflect and accept the honest truth about this generation of young people.
They are better than us.
We can’t deny it. Our kids are better than we are. It’s a fact.
They are more accepting of other races, religions and, yes, sexual preferences. When Michael Sam became the first openly gay professional football player, my teenage daughter didn’t understand what the big deal was.
I love her for that. And I am ashamed of myself, because to me, it was a big deal. Her normal was my “news.”
The teens I know don’t have black friends or Asian friends or gay friends or Jewish friends – they just have friends. It’s the adults who see the differences, who whisper behind unsuspecting backs and make “harmless” jokes.
I know, because I’ve done it. I’m ashamed of that, too.
We adults can be scared, brittle, porous creatures – divergent animals that pull away from the very things that keep us together. We worry about the future, when really we should be grateful that our past didn’t totally screw things up.
More kids today support charitable causes and participate in community service. They are building economies without forsaking their consciences.
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe we can learn something from today’s teens.
I’m starting with a 16-year-old Eagle Scout, scholar, athlete, community volunteer and loyal friend who showed the world why maturity has nothing to do with your age and everything to do with your character.
Our kids are so much better than us. Who knows, maybe we did something right after all.