Thursday, March 28, 2013

Going Out on a Limb...


     My first semester of college, I was 17 and very naïve. I made friends with girls who lived on my dorm floor, we ate together, we traded clothes, we went to school events…and sometime in those first few months I realized that several of these girls were gay and while I found it curious, they were my friends and it really didn’t affect me. My parents moved me to another dorm as they were afraid for me. I couldn’t convince my mother that even though I wasn’t experienced, I knew I wasn’t gay and living with gay girls couldn’t change that. My friends were not a threat to me, or to anyone else. That was in the dark ages of the 70’s.
     Fast forward many years and my family met several gay people. We had a few friends who had children older than mine that were realizing that they had a gay child. These were kids that we knew, that often were babysitters for my kids, children that our family loved. My feelings for these kids did not change one bit and their parents were accepting and loving as they had always been to their children. In the years since, we met other gay couples, both men and women, who were kind, loving, religious, wonderful people. Each and every one of the people I am telling you about is in a long-term committed relationship that has lasted years. Some of them are parents of beautiful children and they are all very successful in their lives. Simply put, they are just like everyone else.

     My children were raised to accept everyone. They watched the example we set in our home. They never once heard a gay slur or racial comment in our house. Are we perfect? No. Do I stereotype on occasion, sure I do. However, I try very hard not to judge others…particularly based on things that are simply who they are.

     I had no idea how these experiences would one day become very important in my own life. My daughter, who seriously considered becoming a minister, was the youngest elder ever to be ordained into our church, who played with dolls, had serious crushes on boys all through high school, was number one in her class in high school and the top of her class in college, loved rhinestones on her jeans and all things girly (okay-she did like to play detective/policeman as a child), came to us at the beginning of her sophomore year of college and told us she was gay. She had not had a serious relationship with anyone at the time, male or female, which is how I know for sure that this is something you are born with, it is not chosen. She came to us almost immediately as soon as she put it all together herself. She came to us, because she knew that it would be okay. That we would love her, accept her and welcome whoever she happened to fall in love with into our family.

     Did I have a “moment”? Of course I did. I didn’t see it coming and it really didn’t “fit” for me at first. I laugh now when I think that my first thought was that she didn’t “seem” gay. I now realize that there all sorts of gay people just like there are all sorts of straight people. I worried, and still do, that people judge my wonderful daughter without knowing her. I also live in a very conservative community and I knew immediately that she could never live here. She is one of the lucky ones. She never struggled, she never faced adversity from her peers or at work…she is blissfully happy, successful and has many friends who are married and straight, gay and in relationships and they all hang out together. She lives in a community that is supportive and welcoming as is her workplace.

     So why am I talking about this now? Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you must know that this week has been very important for the gay community. The Supreme Court is making some decisions that will affect the lives of 10% of the American population (that is the recorded estimate-it may be higher), including my daughter. If you actually know me, you would know that I would be fighting for this regardless of my daughter, but I feel more strongly than ever that all people are entitled to equality and civil rights.

     My daughter is engaged and getting married next year. Her partner of 3 years is a wonderful girl who we love like another daughter. Is it a little weird for us? Of course it is. When I asked my daughter how this wedding thing worked, she said she didn’t know…she had never been to a same-sex wedding either! So, we went on Amazon and bought a book. I still have a bit of trouble switching my brain from being fine with a Civil Union to accepting the term marriage. I have thought of marriage one way all my life, but that doesn't mean I’m not coming around…as are so many others. Do I love the person she has chosen to live her life with, I do. She could have brought home a young man that I hated or that treated her badly (or that wouldn’t get a job), so the fact that she brought home a caring, loving, ambitious, successful and pretty young woman makes life a bit interesting, but it certainly doesn’t change my love for my child or my joy at her happiness.

     It is important for my daughter and others like her to have the same rights as we all do. I am grateful for those that fought for women’s rights. I am grateful for those that fought for rights for African Americans and that certainly didn’t affect me, but I’m glad for them. I want my daughter’s children to be able to get Social Security if she or her partner should die. I want them to be able to file a joint tax return. I want them to get survivor benefits in their old age and not have to pay estate taxes if they inherit their spouse’s estate. We are obviously going to have same-sex marriage in this country, so marriage should be marriage and equal in every way.

     I am not trying to change anyone’s mind by this. I may lose followers because of my honesty. I don't often use my blog to speak on something political, but I think sometimes it is important to put a real face on an issue and it just felt like the right time to do so. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. It is your civil right. I struggle with those who use The Bible to judge others. There are many things in The Bible that are no longer true in today’s world. We can’t pick and choose how we follow The Book, picking the things we agree with and ignoring the things we don't. I do know that the gay people I know are very devout in their religious beliefs. Life is short. Judging others is a waste of time and not a Christian way to live. You just never know who you might be hurting with your words.

     We were a normal, conservative, family, living in the Midwest with church on Sunday, a dog, summer vacations and kids going to camp. If this is part of my family’s experience, it could easily be your child, your nephew, your grandchild, your neighbor and my only hope is that you consider if your child would feel as confident coming to you with the information as mine did and if what you would want for them, is simply for them to be happy in their lives.

     I am open to all opinions and discussion in the comments as long as they are not hateful to anyone.


Journey said...

Beautifully written Sue and very heartfelt! I admire you and believe you have captured in words what many of us feel. Our children are our most important gift and the thought of losing contact with one is heartbreaking, whether is be gay, mixed marriages or a host of other reasons. Thank you for your honesty!

Blondie's Journal said...

Bravo! You are an incredible woman who has raised an even more amazing daughter. I applaud you for standing behind her and your beliefs. I feel very much like you in as far as gay rights and marriage and I proudly support any individual who wants the equality they deserve.

I'm so proud to be your friend, you are speaking up in a forum where you may be judged but I believe we owe it to ourselves to be forthright and honest about all aspects of our lives. We all should be as open as you, especially concerning issues that affect our loved ones.

Much love,


Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I agree with Jane!
Bravo Sue!
And I have to tell you this was written in such a heartfelt and loving way.
Oh and honest as well.
One of my brother's recently found out that his daughter is gay.
He is experiencing much of what you mentioned except his daughter is still in her teens.
Our whole family is accepting and no one will make her feel less than,
Thanks again for your beautiful post.
And congrats to your daughter on her upcoming wedding and you as well.
Happy Easter with hugs,

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I agree with Jane!
Bravo Sue!
And I have to tell you this was written in such a heartfelt and loving way.
Oh and honest as well.
One of my brother's recently found out that his daughter is gay.
He is experiencing much of what you mentioned except his daughter is still in her teens.
Our whole family is accepting and no one will make her feel less than,
Thanks again for your beautiful post.
And congrats to your daughter on her upcoming wedding and you as well.
Happy Easter with hugs,

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I don't know why it posted twice Sue, sorry.

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

Well said , Sue! Your daughter is very fortunate to have such a smart, caring family. Wish everyone was the same.
Would love to see the wedding pictures! Have fun with the planning!

Traci said...

What a wonderful mom you are! This was so beautifully written. Your family is very lucky! I hope you'll post pics & tell us about the wedding. I have to say I'm curious - I've never been to a same sex marriage either!

xinex said...

You are a wonderful person and a loving mom, Sue. It must have taken a lot for you to write this and I salute you. I hope the wedding goes well, should be very interesting. Congrats and best wishes to the girls!.... ChristIne

Polly said...

I read your post with interest as my eldest daughter is gay and has recently had her civil partnership/wedding. I must admit to being aprehensive regarding the ceremony, but it was a lovely day. I have always accepted my daughter for who she is - probably realising it out before she did (she was always 'different' as a chld).
There is a post on my blog showing pictures of her wedding if you are interested.

nannykim said...

Actually most extended families have some gay members in them, but they just may not know it yet. People are not always out to their families. I feel, whatever happens, that churches should be given a pass if they feel they can not marry couples. I know of churches that do not marry couples on many different grounds that are not gay related--there are different moral issues involved for different cases. So somehow the freedom of religion idea needs to be granted along with whatever may be passed for gay citizens. I am not sure how this might be done---I really have not been following things very closely!!

Barbara F. said...

We all look at the same moon, Sue. We were all sent down to Earth by the same Father. Some of us are wired differently. I think you are brave to post about this. I wish your daughter all the best on her upcoming nuptials. xo

NanaDiana said...

You have told my nephew's story exactly- except he was the object of bullying since he was a kid. His name was Ben and his "nickname" at school was Ben Gay. He was/is a resilient young man and moved from this small community to somewhere that is accepting of him. As I love Ben I find that it is not my place to judge him or anyone- that is God's job- not mine. Blessings to you and your whole family- xo Diana

Patrice said...

Beautifully written, Sue

Marigene said...

Very well said, Sue! I wish your daughter and partner the best of everything.
Happy Easter to you and your family.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Add +1 to the above comments! If had a "like" sign/icon would add that also. Beautifully written post !
Hope this goes thru. I have had problems commenting on all blog posts today - keep getting the dreaded error message.
Have a Happy Easter and great weekend.

Annmarie Pipa said...

We are all made in the image and likeness of God.

Nancy said...

Sue, thank you for your beautiful honesty about a subject that is so important. We all need to take a step back and realize that everyone has the right to be in a loving relationship and we don't have the right to say it is wrong. It simply is.
There was a wonderful post on Facebook today. A NY state senator spoke with candor and humor before casting her vote for equality.
Again, kudos to you for speaking out. And best wishes to your daughter and her partner.

Anonymous said...

I just sent a little note from my email, where I read your post, Sue.

Your post is loving and beautiful. Thank you for this.

Leah said...

I was very close friends with your daughter in college, and I got to see first hand how much the support of her family meant to her during her coming out and adjusting to the open, honest life she was living. Thank you for being a parent first and foremost, and thank you for providing your daughter with an environment of acceptance and love that allowed her to go out on her own and create her own family based on those same principles. I am not gay, but I have many friends who are, and I have seen the results of families who respond with judgement and disdain. I am so grateful that your daughter will never have to experience that.

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

What truly bothers me about this issue is the government's involvement. I believe that marriage is a sacrament, and I think it should be up to the churches/houses of worship. If a Unitarian church wants to marry gay couples, then it should be their right. If a Baptist minister doesn't think it is the right thing to do, then we should respect that, too, and stop the hate.

Just my honest opinion....and I appreciate yours, too, Sue.

Have a blessed Easter!

koralee said...

A beautiful post today....xoxoo
Many Easter Blessings to you my friend....xoxo

Nap Warrior said...

Very moving, and very Sue. No church will have to do anything they don't want to, in regards to this, they can choose to marry and not marry, whomever they wish, this is a secular law, affecting only legal status, not religious. Ricki, rest assured the church retains the right to do what their conscience dictates on this issue.

Tonia Goslett said...

This made me smile. Well said, and thank you. Seeing all the beautiful support that is out there over this past week has been good for my heart.

Gypsy Heart said...

Just now reading this Sue and I must say it is written beautifully! I have worked with a LOT of gay people and loved them dearly! It is my firm belief that this is not "chosen" ~ they are born this way. It is not our place to judge them at all! I have seen parents that reject their children and it breaks my heart. I can't even imagine doing that. You know, they are no different from a heterosexual person in every aspect of life except their sexuality. I have a friend that her daughter and her partner just had a lovely ceremony. Who can say their love is any different from ours?

I could go on and on but will stop. I wish your daughter all the happiness in the world! I'm so glad she has parents like you.


BrightenedBoy said...

Hats off to you, Sue. The younger generation is pretty on board with this, but to have a member of your generation show as much empathy and understanding as you have is so uplifting.

I really hope more people come around, as you have, and that this country can get away from its pastime of victimizing and discriminating against those who are different.

Low Tide High Style said...

What an amazing post Sue! How lucky you are to have your daughter, and how very lucky she is to be a part of your family! I hope she and her partner have many years of wedded bliss together!

xo Kat