Shannon Hames

Shannon Hames: Don’t judge this

The variety of people’s beliefs and values is staggering. In fact, no two people who are living or have ever lived or ever will live will agree on everything 100 percent. I would like to think of the rainbow, a symbol of our differences, as a representation of how beautiful each person and their own unique beliefs can be.

But that would be bullshit.

If I could love and respect everyone and their different beliefs, I would be like a god. No – in fact, I would be better than a god. Because even in religions that have gods, those gods also get annoyed AF with humans.

I had to get that out of the way because everyone needs a reminder that personal beliefs are different for everyone. It’s hard when you believe a certain way and you feel so aggravated with someone who thinks differently. You can fall into that ego-driven judgment mode where you feel superior to others.

Our queer culture has been evolving since the Stonewall Riots. We see more and more acceptance and far less rejection than some of our elders lived through back in the day. Despite the improvement about how we are seen and treated by society, we sometimes forget to treat each other with an extra measure of kindness and respect.

I work as a Realtor at a mostly gay company. I occupy a rotating guest chair on a LGBTQ+ podcast. I have written for the Georgia Voice for over seven years interviewing dozens and dozens of people in our queer culture. I am surrounded by LGBTQ+ people and I talk to them every single day.

One of the most common themes that I’ve noticed in these conversations is judgment and criticism from our own community. Why is our community (who know how it feels to be judged) so quick to judge its queer brothers and sisters?

Some of the harshest treatment we receive is from our own LGBTQ+ family. Whether it’s our body type, the social group we are in, how (or if) we choose to come out, what we wear, whether or not we listen to show tunes (that’s a hard NO for me) … we judge each other. And I’m here to tell our community that it’s time to level up and be the example that we ought.

It’s time to recognize that some people are on a different journey than you. Some people are learning different lessons than you are. Some are learning at a slower pace. Some aren’t learning at all and keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. And that’s okay. It’s their journey. It’s not your place to shame them or to take their differences personally.

Pride week is about celebrating who we are and being proud of the fact that we’re different. It’s about you not measuring my lesbian-ness based on the fact that I don’t keep up with sports, I don’t hoard rescue animals and I don’t listen to the Indigo Girls. Don’t judge me on the fact that I have masculine energy but also wear make-up. Don’t judge me for having a man-crush on boys who wear eyeliner. Just love me for the person that I am right now and the person that I am trying to become.

In return, I will do the same for you. I will not judge you for liking musicals, roller skating in your banana hammock wearing a Pride flag as a cape or for knowing way more about skin care products than me. I will love your differences and support you on your path – wherever it happens to be going. We’re all in this together so let’s celebrate our rainbow of differences.

Happy Pride, y’all!