Before I get into the prize, I just want to give my heartfelt thanks to all the organizers, bloggers and participants who took the time to visit all these blogs and speak up. It's like my new hero, Vic, says on his blog: One voice matters. Every voice matters. Your's might be the voice that changes a life. Or saves one. You do have that much power. Use it for good. :)
How often do we hear that story, like mine, even, where one voice, one answer to one question, would have made all the difference? Or the heartbreaking stories where one person's derision, intolernance, ignorance, or hurtful comment killed a person's spirit? Caused them to despair? Why do we think we have any less power because we speak a message of love and acceptance? We don't.
We have as much capacity to do good, to help and lift up just by speaking up at the right time, and you know what? You might never know when the thing you said to the right person at the right time changed their lives forever. You probably will never know. And you don't have to. Because that isn't the point. Believe that what you say and do matters. For good or ill, we all leave our impact on the world, and it's up to every one of us to decide what our footprints look like.
Not too long ago, I realized I was still waiting for that long ago answer to my question "Where does Ray sleep?" Even then, somewhere in the depths of my young mind, I knew the answer to that very simple question. What I wanted was someone to tell me it was okay.
No one did. No one could. Because there were four adults in that room, and no matter how much they all loved me, or each other, they could not say it was okay. Not even Uncle Cliff and Uncle Ray, who knew in their hearts and souls what they had was good and right, could tell a little girl it would be okay to grow up this way.
I don't for one second think they regretted loving each other, or being the people they were. But somewhere along the way, someone said something, did something, that changed their lives, and made it impossible for them to say it out loud. And more than anything I've gone through in my own life, more than any struggle I've had trying to figure my own truth out, that is the thing that breaks my heart.
So. Be the change you want to see in the world. I can't think of any better way to put it. It's the only way it will work.
And also, William Prater, you win, dude! Pick a book, let me know which one, and I'll send it along. I'll need your email address, though. I don't think I have it.