Never could I have imagined what an amazing and life-changing experience becoming a father would be. The unconditional love you feel, the sense of pride that swells in your chest, and the overwhelming responsibility you inherit are common feelings for most new parents. Overwhelming may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you realize there is so much to teach your child and at the same time, so much you still have to learn.
My road to parenthood could be considered by many to be nontraditional. In 2018, after a three-year journey through the adoption process, I became the proud parent of a beautiful newborn girl, Pressley Inez. I am now a 40-year-old, single, gay father raising an energetic and inquisitive toddler in the midst of a pandemic. Maybe overwhelming isn’t an exaggeration after all! In addition to being a father, I am also a 19-year Employee of Southwest Airlines joining in 2001 as a college new hire. I am now a Manager in Technology and a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Council.
During the month of June, the LGBTQ community and allies celebrate Pride. Pride is a time of reflection and celebration. I remind myself of my personal struggles of self-acceptance, the value of being an authentic individual, and the importance of practicing empathy. These are core values I want to share with my daughter and emphasize as she matures into a young adult. June is also a time for celebrations, festivals, and parades which have all become a common ritual of coming together and a coming out for many. Pride is a celebration of diversity and acceptance of ALL, and a time to remember those who fought for equality.
This June and every day is a learning opportunity for us all. It’s also a time for each of us to be a role model and teach by example. As a father, I can now teach Pressley Inez a lesson of resilience & compassion and share a story of love & acceptance.
The parade has been canceled, but living, learning, and loving continues!