A Rainbow Of Color & Hope

Happy Monday, everyone!

And happy October too!

Can you believe that we are officially into the tenth month of the year?!

Say WHAT?!

Yesterday, I had the extreme pleasure of being able to speak as part of Lititz Chooses Love’s Coming Out Festival.

It was beautiful.

I share those words with you now.

Hi everyone! It is quite an honor to be here today surrounded by so many wonderful, loving, and supportive individuals! 

It is an extremely humbling opportunity for me to share a few words with you that I hope will bring encouragement and fill you with hope. 

For those who may not know, my name is JP Welliver and I am an extremely proud gay man who has been out of the closet since 2005–the junior year of my high school career. 

And while the experience of coming out of the closet was one that lifted an incredibly huge weight off my shoulders and while I was supported (and continue to be supported) by extremely loving parents, family, and friends–I know that is not a reality for everyone.

The year is 2022 and people continue to be chastised, judged, treated unfairly, beaten, abused, marginalized.

Individuals who identify in the LGTBQ+ community and embrace love for all can’t even walk around in public holding hands without being stared at or given verbal abuse. 

And that breaks my heart. 

And it should break yours as well. 

When I began to write these words a few weeks ago, I tried to think about things in life that bring me joy. 

And I landed on the rainbow. 

The rainbow. 

A symbol that is intensely joyful that when it transforms the sky with its thin band of beautiful colors, it stops crowds of people in their tracks…

grabbing their photo to capture the moment and experience the magic and beauty of its majestic colors. 

Just thinking about a rainbow image makes me smile.

The rainbow is something that can bring a sense of energy and enthusiasm that unites crusaders of LGBTQ+ activism under a banner of activism with a feeling of joy. The rainbow welcomes outsiders and unites all in a common cause. 

I want to take a moment to share reflections with those out there struggling with their identity and sexuality. Always be true to yourself and never sacrifice anything for what you feel in your heart. Know that you are not alone and that there will always be people around to wrap you in love and warmth when the world seems cold and closes in with darkness. Find your support system. They are out there and are ready to love and support you in life’s toughest moment of weakness.

I want to take a moment to share some reflections to those who view me and my fellow LGTBQ+ community as different. I hope that you will one day be able to look past the walls of judgement that you have built up and realize that we are no different than you. And while we may identify with feelings for those of the same sex, we are still human beings full of love and pride.   

I encourage all of you to celebrate the rainbow and the LGTBQ+ community and to extend a hand to all in this world by spreading love and kindness.  Not just this month, but every month of the year. Do it today, tomorrow, and each day after. 

There may be days in my life left on this Earth that I (along with some of you here today) get bullied, called faggot or other derogatory terms, or struggle with the thoughts of hurting yourself. Hate, prejudice, and bigotry are still very much alive in our Country.

And if you are someone or happen to know someone who thinks these entities do not exist, I would kindly ask you to look around you or when you find yourself in the comfort of your home later this evening to look out the window. 

And as you gaze out that window, I ask you to look at the world around you and realize that it is not perfect and far from it.

And after looking out the window and at the world, go look at yourself in the mirror.

And as you look at yourself in the mirror, take a moment to ask yourself this question:

“Am I enabling the problem or helping to end it.”

While I realize that some of you have never experienced a moment of bigotry, prejudice, or hate (and might never experience one), I need you to understand that it still exists.

Very much so.

For so many people from all different walks of life…not just those who identify as part of the LGTBQ+ community.

And it is a reality that I have lived in these 35 years of life more than once. More times that can be counted on your fingers and toes combined.

Do you ever walk out of your house in fear that you might get hurt because of the person you are and people you love? 

Do you ever think that you will be discriminated against because of the people you love? 

Do you ever think that you will be made fun of or bullied because of who you are?

These are all questions that I have (and continue to) answer ‘yes’ to on the daily.

And while I hope and pray that we will eventually live in a world where none of this hatred and prejudice exist, I sincerely hope and pray that you will do your best to show love and kindness to everyone you meet and to help bring an end to discrimination and all the elements of hatred that come along with it.

But I do know this. I am a believer in sharing love and kindness to everyone regardless of social status, ethnicity, religion, skin color, or sexual orientation. 

I fight for what I believe in.

Every morning, I wake up and look in the mirror and repeat the below mantra to myself:

I am loved. I am worthy. I am colorful.

I stand before you in this very moment with great pride in my true colors and can’t wait to continue sharing with the world who I am and what I’m about. 

We need to stop the hating, the judgments, the bullying, and work together as one to break down the walls of hate that have paralyzed our society with the belief that the LGTBQ+ community is different. This world needs more love.

The events that have unfolded and continue to unfold in the world around us are clear examples that we are in need of so much more love and kindness.

Where are the open arms of love that we should be extending to ALL humans regardless of the gender of the humans they love? 

When will the hating stop? 

When will the violence end? 

When are we going to wake up as a human race and realize that people who love the same sex are no different than anyone else? 

When is the world going to realize that love is love is love?

And even when life isn’t a rainbow, I’m a proud one that will continue to be the symbol of joy to puncture the despair around us and send up flag signaling hope to all. 

Let’s continue to be those flags of hope together. 

Sprinkle sunshine always,

JP!