An Open Letter To Straight/Cis Parents In Preparation for Pride Month 2023

Julia A. Pulver, RN, MSN, CCM
6 min readMay 29, 2023

Dear Fellow Parents,

It’s June again and that means a few things: end of the school year, the start of summer (and having to remember sunscreen every time you leave the house) and, of course, Pride Month! Hurray! Let the glitter rainbows fly!

However, this year’s Pride Month is somehow making us all feel uneasy. If you recall last year’s Pride month… you probably don’t actually, because it was not a big deal. It was not some rainbow apocalypse that turned your straight kids queer or your cis gendered kids trans, was it? No. Maybe you went to a parade, maybe you went to the lake that weekend instead. And life went on, right?

So why is Pride 2023 feeling like such an ominous celebration? Did something change within the LGBTQ+ community over the last 12 months? Did Drag Queens suddenly turn militantly fabulous by any means necessary, or did books about sexuality and gender become sentient monsters eating cis/het kids whole? To all calm, rational adults, the answer is obviously “of course not! How silly.”

But according to hate groups like Moms for Liberty (irony alert), the Patriot Front and every garden variety domestic terrorist sleeper cell in America, the last 12 months since Pride Month 2022 have been a full-on assault by the 10–15% of Americans who identify as LGBTQ+ and the “woke” organizations, corporations and librarians who stubbornly insist they have basic human rights and dignity in public life. Just look at their visceral outrage that beer companies would want to increase their market share by exploring a new consumer market (drinking age GenZ) and the violent attacks on a home goods store for continuing to sell Pride merch with colorful, seasonal displays (just like they did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, for the last decade…)

It’s like a whole sub-culture of judgmental Pollyannas just discovered Pride month exists and are so offended they can’t help but commit acts of violence against store employees. Which of course is not the real story. What’s actually happening in 2023 is the rise of, and acceptance of, Right Wing Domestic Terrorism. They have emboldened anyone with an axe to grind against any entity that has ever told them no, held them accountable for their antisocial missteps, or dared insist that they are not the only people in America worth protecting, defending or leading. These grievance warriors have been bubbling under the surface and are prime foot soldiers for well-funded authoritarian groups looking to further their own agendas.

These so called “grassroots” movements like Moms for Liberty are actually billionaire funded astroturf movements meant to bolster the takeover of conservative Republicans in as many governing bodies as possible. These groups get attention by making outrageous claims. They know these claims aren’t real, and don’t have to be. They know that if they create enough smoke around LGBTQ+ community, people will assume there’s fire.

So, they continue to make the most ridiculous, easily debunked claims, rapid fire, shock and awe style, knowing the average person can’t keep up. Their goal is not necessarily to prove their points, let alone actually help anyone in danger, but to create so much ickiness that the average person just knows there’s “some kind of bad stuff going on”, and that’s enough for those with cis/het privilege to retreat and decide not to participate.

And that leaves those of us who don’t have the privilege to retreat alone against the well-funded, violent mobs, hell bent on destroying anyone in the LGBTQ+ community and anyone, like me, who is not only a staunch ally, but mother to a trans son.

And that’s where they want us, on the ropes, and eventually, at the end of their ropes.

Why? For the sin of living out loud. For refusing to stay in the closet. For refusing to deny our kids agency over their own identities. For daring to stand up to their slander and calls for violent punishments. For pointing out that every single claim they have made to justify their bigoted, homophobic, transphobic legislations are 100% fake, fabricated, non-existent, made up, etc. For the ultimate sin of saying no to them. Because in authoritarian regimes it’s not just the targeted groups they come after, but anyone else who refuses to go along with their plans, too.

Some of these people calling for our heads are useful hate-filled rubes. Some are ambitious politicians who think this will boost their careers. Some are rich, religious weirdos who think they can buy everyone to get whatever they want. Some have made a career out of creating chaos and division for money. Some are disturbed closet cases who wish they could have the freedom they are trying to deny others. None are actually working for child welfare, safety or fairness.

So, why is Pride 2023 shaping up to be a scary one? Because this year’s Pride celebrations are the chosen as the battlefield wannabe fascists have chosen to wage their “culture war.” No one who celebrates Pride asked for this. We are being targeted for violent attacks simply for who we are and who we unconditionally love. No one celebrating Pride is hurting anyone, yet we are being threatened by those claiming to be “protecting” us.

Well, our children are just fine surrounded by happy people in rainbows and wigs one month out of the year, just like we were. Now, I’m a Xennial or Elder Millennial (born in 1983.) I’m a 40-year-old mom with kids in Middle School and High School. I came of age in the 90s/00s. I was “exposed” to all the queer culture a straight gal could ever want: “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, Ellen, “Will & Grace”, “Boys Don’t Cry”, “The Laramie Project”, “Queer as Folk”, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, The Indigo Girls, Melissa Ethridge, Ani DiFranco, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Kissing Jessica Stein”, “The Birdcage”, “In & Out”, “Heather Has Two Mommies” everything John Waters ever did with Divine, and so on…

And guess what? I’m still hopelessly straight and solidly cis-gendered. (And I’m guessing so are you despite growing up with all these LGBTQ+ influences, right?) What I was exposed to as a youth did nothing to “turn” me into anything I wasn’t. But what it did give me as a cis/het ally was empathy for those who struggle with the very basics of who they are while living in the world we all share.

That empathy is essential to fighting the systemic injustice endured by the LGBTQ+ community. And that empathy is the real target of these hate groups. Because if we never teach children to have empathy for marginalized groups, then they won’t grow up ready to fight back against the atrocities being committed against them. And that’s their goal: to create a generation of kids who won’t resist or try to undo systemic homo/transphobia in America.

So, this Pride Month 2023, I encourage you, my fellow cis/het parents, to resist the urge to retreat into your privilege. Stand up to those who are trying to strip your kid of human empathy towards anyone different. To your own degree of comfort (or even a little bit more) I challenge you to show your willingness to stand up to these jerks trying to shove everyone back into the closet.

Go to a parade, sport some rainbow gear, fly a flag on your porch, change your social pics or banners, like you’ve done every June, to show your solidarity. Don’t ignore homo/transphobic comments because it’s easier than “getting into it”- get into it. Shut down the disinformation and slander. We need solidarity now more than ever.

Please don’t disappear. Your children are watching, listening and mimicking your response to the scary world around them. Show them how to stand up to bullies. Be the change, Mom & Dad. Show your kids how to stand up for everyone’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And enjoy some absolutely fabulous festivities.

Happy Pride 2023!

Sincerely,

Julia

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Julia A. Pulver, RN, MSN, CCM

Julia A. Pulver has been an RN for over 17 years. She has spent her career working with the most at risk populations in Southeast Michigan. #PostRoeHarm