Sunday, July 03, 2016

You Can Sit With Us!!

Image description: A green shopping bag with the slogan 'YOU CAN SIT WITH US' emblazoned on it above, in much smaller print, PRIDE TORONTO 2016

"You can sit with us"

I think everyone remembers a moment, some of us will remember many, when we wished, with all our hearts, that someone, anyone, would have invited us or welcomed us to a seat at their table. Those moments of sheer isolation are searingly painful, when the recognition that you are utterly alone, carries with it blame: 'you're different, your fault.' The drive to belong isn't just a drive to fellowship, it's also a drive to affirmation - I am likable, lovable, worthy.

"You can sit with us"

That's the slogan or theme of this year's Pride celebration in Toronto. It's the first I've really taken notice of, most of them haven't had much shelf life in my memory because, for me, they didn't really have resonance with the life I lived or am living. But this year, when I read the theme, 5 simple words, I felt an immediate connection. So much so that I had to gulp back tears. Oh, my, gosh, words that I longed to hear for years, the invitation that never came in time, oh, my, gosh.

"You can sit with us"

On so many levels this is a beautiful theme. It encompasses so much of what we long for as human beings, it counters the messages of rejection we hear too often and it offers embrace in place of rejection. More than that it is the solution to bullying, it is the solution to alienation, it is the solution to intolerance. Offering a place at the table, a voice in the discussion, a welcome into membership is risky business indeed. You can't offer a space beside you without being willing to create space, just a little more, within your own heart.

"You can sit with us"

I admire the theme. I admire the goal. I admire every honourable sentiment behind it. I even admire the fact that it was written without exclamation marks. It's written to be said, not shouted, spoken, not announced. But I hope for more. I hope that after the march today and the party tonight that people will wake up tomorrow morning and glance over at the tee shirt or shopping bag or sticker and see the 'You can sit with us!!' logo and, perhaps, think about it a little bit. There is a call there to become a welcoming community. There is a quiet urging about the words that should lead to a kind of self examination, are we as proud of our diversity as we are of our difference? Are these words we would really be willing to say, to someone, with different differences?

"You can sit with us"

I bought a shopping bag with the slogan on it. I wanted to be reminded of my feelings when I first saw the words. I used it shortly after, in a store near where I live, one of the clerks noticed my bag and said, "Well, you've got the right bag for the weekend." I agreed that I did, he then stopped, turned, and said to me, "Awfully big words, aren't they." "May they one day be true," I said. He nodded. I don't know his story, probably never will, but I know one thing. He once, like me, looked for a welcome he didn't receive.

"You can sit with us"


Frank_V said...

I welcome everyone to sit by me. Whether or not I want them to stay for long totally depends on their behavior.

Denise said...

That is a great theme! I hope it resonates with many.

Unknown said...

Such ordinary words yet so powerful when put together in that order. And a powerful theme that should resonate with everyone.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I was mostly ignored, not actively discriminated against, and never bullied - but it would have been nice to be included.

Sherry-Lynn K said...

Love that...We should all be saying that, to everyone.