Updated: Jun 17, 2022
For me, things usually happen for a reason.
Mom died December 31st, 2020. My plan was to publish my book in honour of my mom on what would have been her birthday: May 28th, 2022. But things just didn’t work out that way. So, I was curious, what could possibly be an even better time to celebrate this courageous woman? Hmmm, June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and I had been thinking about the challenges for older adults who still feel uncomfortable about discussing identify or sexual expression. Suddenly, it hit me. Mom came out late in life. What a perfect time to launch my book, Just Say “Hi” to Amazing Parts of Yourself ! Mom was amazing and so brave to acknowledge her personal truth and live it, but so many people ignore who they are inside because they fear being marginalized or even physically attacked for living their truth. I personally did not even know the words to describe what I felt about my own identity and self-expression. Fortunately, as a professional, I continually attended conferences and researched current cultural, therapeutic and medical issues around non-cis identity. Today, there are still many non-cis gender adults in their 60s, 70’s and 80s that may never feel safe to explore beneath the label of male or female. Many of the words we use today to express anything outside the box of male and female gender identity, sexuality and expression did not exist 30 years ago. And it was often shameful and dangerous to dress in clothing not matching the identity assigned to you at birth.
Many individuals are still living in conflict into their 80’s and beyond which can sometimes lead to anxiety, eating disorders and addiction. Feeling shameful of your own identity can cause you to turn despair inward or aggression and anger outward. People stay silent, hidden, lonely and afraid. Some will never get to feel the freedom of discovering who they truly are and may never have an opportunity to find pure happiness and even love. I understand now why Mom might have moved to another state. She may not have been able to face her family, friends or business associates while living an “untraditional” lifestyle. I can’t even imagine what public education was like when social media and the internet did not exist. Finding an inclusive community can still seem close to impossible, especially in the area of healthcare specifically for LGBTQ individuals. In my experience, working with clients and families, coming out or transitioning can be a challenging journey, one requiring a lot of self-care, reflection, communication and support from people that you trust. For me, the main thing to remember in any relationship with another human being is that they are the expert about who they are, how they feel, how they express themselves and how they want to be identified. Words are powerful. Especially the words we say to ourselves.
Pointing out that words used as labels can be helpful or harmful, the book Just Say “Hi” to Amazing Parts of Yourself!, encourages readers to embrace who they are with curiosity and appreciation. Using a simple 3-step method to help “identify, accept and become loving and kind to all aspects” of ourselves, we can be more compassionate inside, and bring more peace to others outside and in the world around us.
Glossary of terms can be found here: https://lgbt.ucsf.edu/glossary-terms