For my beloved and I, becoming parents was a completely active, conscious choice. For reasons of biology, it had to be. But beyond that, we knew that being parents, in addition to finding one another, was a life goal that was important to both of us. And, important for us to do together, as a couple. We have never looked back.
Before we had our delightful, loving daughter, we were both pretty much living our lives out, open and honest about who we are. We were out at our jobs, out to our families, and to other people in our lives. Something seemed to happen when we were about to become parents: we got scared. We were fearful about repercussions not just toward us, but now our child who was on the way.
For me, those fears abated a bit. I now believe that to live out and openly only enhances our daughter’s feeling of self, and pride in who she is and who her parents are. That has been a journey for me, but a fulfilling one so far. However, we are coming to a realization once again in our lives, where my beloved and I have been before, and our daughter is just learning: that the road to self awareness is sometimes very straight, and also, very narrow.
I have to say for the purpose of this post, I mean no disrespect to any of our heterosexual friends and neighbors who have been totally open and gracious, and embracing toward us. I am not talking about allies to the LGBT community and people, who come out to events and speak out just because it is the right thing to do. I am talking about another societal phenomena that we become immune to at times as a family.
You see, as a couple, and as individuals, my partner and I have always had to deal with oppression, ridicule or negative attitudes about us being lesbians at times. Just saying the word for some people elicits such a negative response, that we end up closing off a part of who we are. We have faced challenges with our families, with co workers, with churches and the public at large. When we became parents, there was even more of that negativity at times, in the form of intrusive questions and unwelcoming attitudes. After awhile, I begin to forget how difficult it is at times to live in this primarily heterosexual world as a homosexual person. I become immune, I become complacent. And, as parents, I think it is even easier to do that.
As parents, we are in the throes of activities, events, and people that are ALL, at least at this point of our awareness and lives, straight. EVERY FAMILY. We have not had the comfort, or at this point, luxury, of knowing other local families to connect with. We have become immersed, of our own free will, in how life is for many straight families, and how easy it is to blend in in many ways. We have enjoyed that comfort, believe me. And, it has not been hollow; we have made many good, true friends who are loyal to us, and fiercely loyal to our daughter. What an amazing journey that has been.
But the lesson that is becoming acutely apparent is that we are DIFFERENT. I know, every person is different, every family is different, we all are unique. But, it is deeper than that. Our family is different, our needs are different, than the majority of the families that we know. Our family is not a common type in our area, and our sexual orientation as her parents is not always well received. There are questions and looks and rude comments. We are not always exposed to this, but we become complacent.
And, then we remember how different we actually are.
We remember what a battle this can be, just to be treated equally and fairly as a couple. We remember how there are churches and churchgoers, some in our own congregation, that believe that we are sinners, and that we need to redeem ourselves. There are people that think that being gay is just gross and sick, and that we are flawed or diseased in some way.
Now, our daughter is becoming acutely aware of these attitudes. Whether it is because her friends are getting older, and having questions, or their attitudes are a reflection of some of their own parents’ attitudes, our daughter is having a big dose of straight reality.
Why don’t you have a dad? Are you a lesbian? That is just gross…….
So, we do what we do best: we love each other, we parent her with security and connection, and support. We let her know that we will help her however we can, and we also let her know, that we are just fine, just right, the way that we are. Even if there are people in this world that think we are not. We always need to remind her, that we are whole and good and complete.
Don’t get me wrong: I am forever hopeful. I still have energy in me to fight the fight of justice, equality, and love. But, sometimes we forget, we get tired. We have to educate and remind our daughter of the realities……
Then, we have to remind ourselves as well……..of the challenges AND the hope…..