I remember feeling so special. I was, at best, five years old and had just learned the words to the hymn that goes, “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, ’Twas God that made them all…”

I ran home from school to sing it for my mother. It was my first child-like understanding that a Higher Power had personally made me, and all the creatures of the world, just the way He wanted!

Like the more than seven percent of children who grow up to be LGBTQ+, I was crushed and confused a few years later when I was bullied for being a “sissy” and learned that the feelings I was having inside were “unnatural”. By age eight I was mortified to understand I would burn for eternity in a fiery hell for the attraction I had for a boy named Tommy. I prayed and prayed and prayed — but the feelings I had inside simply would not go away.

I was an adult before I learned the truth. Sexual orientation is a part of human ancestral DNA, and homosexual and bisexual behavior exists naturally in all animals. Scientists have recorded more than 1,500 species engaging in same-sex behavior.

Yet a widespread misunderstanding of sex and sexual orientation has created a cloud of ignorance that hangs over our nation and rains hatred and intolerance for people who are LGBTQ+ .

It has caused countless children to take their lives, thousands more to be kicked out of their homes and disowned by their families and created a homeless youth population in our nation today of unprecedented proportion. It has caused preachers to spew hate, trans women to be brutally murdered at an alarming rate and families to be torn apart.

The Equality Act that our nation’s leaders are currently debating really hangs on a central point: should the millions of Americans who are LGBTQ+ have the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual Americans? That’s it!

All this bill seeks to do is add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to federal nondiscrimination laws so that all Americans all equal under the law and free to be who they were meant to be. It is mind-boggling to think this is even being debated.

Welcome to this special edition of Hotspots. Let’s talk about sex — because information leads to knowledge and understanding.

Peter Jackson is the publisher of Hotspots magazine and the president of WMEG Community Marketing and Events.