The lunch and learn activity finally started and the room was filled with voices. We went off-script at first and talked about issues from housing insecurity to the biggest cultural changes they’ve seen in the past decades. They also shared with me that one of the reasons why they moved from where they spent their first years of their life was due to the discrimination against those who identify with the LGBTQ+ communiy. They found their homes, “second families” in San Diego. We eventually started with the conversation questions and talked about how music and art has affected our lives. Music was an important part of all of our lives. Bob was part of a band, Freddy grew up listening to Latin music and watching Soul Train, while John and I shared a mutual love for ABBA. I grew up listening to what my grandparents and parents listened to. My grandfather always played ABBA on our large stereo and we would all dance in the kitchen together. Music was also one of the reasons that brought my parents together.My dad was in a rock band and my mom loved rock music. My dad fell for my mother in the probably the most cliche way a lead guitarist could fall for someone in the crowd. He was on stage playing his guitar and noticed my mom in the crowd clad in a white shirt, distressed jeans, and black doc marten boots.
At the end of our discussions, everyone was encouraged to have one speaker from each table share something about our conversations. That’s when Bob said to me, “That’s all you!”, and everyone else at the table echoed. I told them I was too nervous to share and that public speaking terrified me. They encouraged me to speak, saying that I could do it and that it would be good for me. I could feel the window to share was closing and so I raised my hand and just went for it. The mic made its way to me and my heart was pounding. I shared what we discussed and even threw in a funny story -- not only to hopefully make people laugh, but also to ease my own nerves. It felt like I was blabbering on forever but I eventually got to the end of my story. As I sat back down, Bob, Russell, Freddy, and John told me that I did a fantastic job saying, “You did wonderful, sweetheart. That was a great story!” My hands were still shaking and my cheeks were still red, but because of the encouragement and support from four wonderful people I had just met that day, I was able to face one of my fears. Thank you Bob, Russell, Freddy, and John.