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.