Gatherings and Inclusion In The Wake of COVID-19

Author: Tsara Shelton
Published: Wednesday 22nd April 2020 - Updated: Wednesday 13th May 2020
Summary: An opinion piece by Tsara Shelton that reflect her thoughts on COVID-19 and the Pride Festival in Dallas date change.

Dallas Pride Festivities Rescheduled

Gatherings have long played an important role for people in society.

Yet, for some they are more urgent and necessary than others.

For many people in the LGBTQ community, a Pride Festival or parade, a drag show, or other similar events are the first or only place they feel accepted and included.

I live in a small town not too far from Dallas, TX. My youngest son and I planned on attending the Dallas Pride Festival (perhaps volunteering as well) this year, for our first time.

However, as with most events in the wake of COVID-19, for the health of our world the date has been rescheduled. Now, I personal approve of and appreciate this. However, I also wonder if the new date (July 25, 2020) will remain safe. And even so, what sorts of changes will be made to how we celebrate as a group.

And I confess, I do hope we make some long lasting changes.

It has long seemed unfortunate to me that we are aware of our contamination of each other yet we do little to make changes. We're made to feel weak if we do not go to work sick, and we're unlikely to get paid. We apologize when we ask to not shake hands, we make fun of folks who are overly cautious "germaphobes." We spread disease and viruses comfortably, even proudly.

I believe it is healthy to get sick. And so there is no part of me that hopes we change so much after this pandemic we are frightened to touch, to reach out, to gather together.

But, we can't unsee what we've seen. And we can't unlearn what we've learned.

Well we can. But we shouldn't unlearn it.

If you will humor me, please step a little further into the idea of how we contaminate each other.

It is often considered weak to listen and care about the difficulties and systemic challenges in the lives of people other than us. We are encouraged to be empathetic to a point, but when that empathy threatens to change us, change our minds, we are too often seen as weak and naïve. Easily swayed. Not strong in our convictions. This is dangerous. And we infect and contaminate and make each other sick with this attitude.

Admittedly, there is a balance to be had. There is truth in not wanting to be easily talked out of your values or beliefs. But we must be willing to change them as well. It is necessary for a healthy society to adjust and find balance. Balance is something we continuously do, though sometimes it is clearer than other times when our balance is off. However, it is always something we are doing and should pay attention to.

For many of us, gatherings and events, such as Pride Festivals, are nearly necessary for our mental health and happiness. But so is learning from experience (such as COVID) to make adjustments for the sake of our holistic health. My son and I are looking forward to the Pride Festival in Dallas! And I expect it will not be like previous festivals, but will offer what previous festivals were there to celebrate: diversity, inclusion, and the LGBTQ culture. And that, my thoughtful reader, is our reason is for attending.

Dallas Pride Festival in the Park - Saturday July 25, 2020 FAIR PARK

I encourage you to look up any new dates or plans for your local Pride Festivals and Events.

* * * * *

Tsara Shelton is the author of "Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself" - a book that offers a unique and intimate narrative on parenting, autism, and growing up. Her website, Tsara Shelton's Autism Answers, offers a variety of musings, shared family stories, book reviews, and short fiction posts that are rarely specifically about autism or parenting. They are, however, almost always stories grown from the fertile and organic thinking soil that can be found where the two come together.

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