That is just one line from Griner Is Part of Mission to Help All Live in Truth, a New York Times op ed by the two-time Naismith Trophy winner that i urge people to read.
She begins by praising Jason Collins for his recent statement, expresses a hope that it will indicate our approaching a new era when
people accept and celebrate one another’s differences. I think that’s what makes life beautiful: everyone is different and we can all learn from one another.and immediately notes that it takes a lot of courage to come out.
She explains that she first came out to her mom in an unplanned utterance in 9th grade. Her mother simply hugged her and said she loved her, which enable Griner to write
I knew then that it didn’t matter what my sexuality was; my mom and family would always love me for who I am. For me, the simplicity behind coming out was both powerful and beautiful. No drama, just acceptance and love.But acceptance by her family was not the only experience with which she had to live.
It strengthens me to know that Jason and I (along with so many other out pioneers and allies) are united in a mission to inspire others who may be struggling. I want everyone to feel at peace and O.K. with being who he or she is.Griner recounts some of the hell she experienced growing up. She began in a new school when she was in 7th grade. She experienced taunts and verbal abuse for her size, physicality and appearance. It continued throughout her high school and college basketball careers, with both racial epithets and homophobic slurs, yet she says that pales compared to what is said about her online today in places like Twitter and Instagram - remember, she answered a question about her sexuality after being drafted for the WNBA.
Throughout the piece Griner makes her points simply and directly.
For example, after saying she hopes she and Collins can inspire others who are struggling she concludes that paragraph
I want everyone to feel at peace and O.K. with being who he or she is.Then, after the stand-alone sentence I used to title this post, she explores the experiences she had growing up that I have already mentioned, ending that paragraph with
In my opinion, you’re beautiful because you are you.Griner acknowledges that it can be worse, referencing directly Matthew Shepard and connecting that thought to what many kids in secondary school experience every day, things horrible enough that they contemplate suicide.
Saying she has been there, she offers this paragraph:
I’ve had moments when I questioned my place in the world. At times, especially in seventh grade, life was lonely and I’d often feel sad. I never wanted to deny who I was, but dealing with the sadness and the anger that came from people constantly making fun of me wore me down at times. I relied heavily on my mom, family and friends to lift my spirits and help me through it — and still do.After talking about the good things in her life, such as bacon, and committing herself to things that mattered, she experienced love and confidence in turn, which enables her to write this stand-alone sentence:
I just had to hang in there and be myself.Here I note that not every LGBT teenager has the kind of support system that Griner does. As a teacher, I have seen the difference over my years in the classroom of the ability of students to get through those difficult periods when they have access to such support. It is one reason bullying absolutely cannot be tolerated - students perceived as different in their sexuality are otherwise subjected to levels of verbal abuse and worse that are simply unbearable. That is one reason that many of us among the adults at my school who were straight made a point of showing our support for Letsgab - our alliance of lesbian, transgender, straight, gay and bi- students.
It is also why Griner herself participated in the It Gets Better project, because, as she says
Nobody should have to hear the types of things I did or to feel the way I have.She acknowledges the support she has received since the WNBA draft.
Two powerful one-sentence paragraphs conclude this remarkable piece.
Countless people have come up to me and thanked me for being proud of who I am.After what she experienced growing up, that has to feel gratifying.
Her response is to pay it forward:
It’s my job now to, I hope, be a light who inspires others.Read the entire piece. My description does not give it full justice.
Pass it on.
Save it to share with young people who may be struggling because of their sexuality.
Use it to remind others of the impact of bullying.
Thanks for whatever you can do.