“I don’t believe in the choice you two are making… I don’t, but I don’t think that it’s any of my business.”
I didn’t see it coming… wasn’t ready, even remotely, to hear these words come from a woman who is like a mother to me. She helped raise me. In the four and a half years since I came out, I’ve gone to great lengths to not concern myself with what the people around me think about it, or me. As they say, what you think of me is none of my business.
That sort of detachment, however, is not my nature (particularly with “friends” and “family”) and I have to turn it on, so to speak… like one must have to detach from the sensation of pain when they climb in a boxing ring. The conversation in question occurred so spontaneously, I didn’t even have time to lift my arms up to block the shot. Boom, a massive blow straight to the gut.
It. Hurt. Like. Hell.
The adult in me wants to talk about the “I don’t believe in the choice you two are making…” part. I don’t know how else to say this… BEING GAY IS NOT A (FREAKING) CHOICE! Read a book. I hear that Ellen’s Mom’s books is priceless. Google it. Visit the Human Rights Campaign to get informed about what’s on the line here. Do something. There is research to back this up.
I was born this way.
Even more importantly, look back. Do you remember the times that we were together and people thought I was your son?
There were a million moments like this, I was G.I. Jane for Halloween for Pete’s sake! I was different and in this moment, I feel incredibly angry that you (and the rest of the people who raised me, and claimed to love me) stood by and watched me suffer, because I couldn’t figure out who in the hell I was. I don’t believe for an instant that it never occurred to anyone that I might be gay.
Next: You “don’t believe” in what, exactly?
All that any one person would have had to do to turn my entire life around was suggest that it might be possible, that some people are gay, that I might consider it. Nothing. You all did nothing. I’m horrified by people’s willingness to sacrifice me, and people like me, because they don’t believe in being gay.
This is the truth, my truth, whether you believe it or not. Your beliefs are not for me.
The little girl in me can’t get over the “I don’t believe…” part. It even haunted me in my dreams. You don’t believe in what? That this is my truth? If you’re still wondering if being a lesbian is a real thing, or if being a lesbian is true for me, then you don’t know me at all and you can’t possibly love someone that you don’t know.
Or, is it that you don’t believe in love?
Because that’s what this is. I love my wife (Thank you, Washington, DC.), the way that (I hope and pray) you love your husband. She loves me… completely, specifically, and in our Nation’s Capital, even legally.
Yes, we actually got married last summer. I live in her home. She is raising my children with me. We have joint checking accounts and she’s made it possible for me to live my dream by starting my coaching business and writing my first book.
She is my biggest fan, and I am hers. Would you have me go back to living a lie? You knew me before. You watched me suffer. You don’t believe in what, exactly?
And, yet another part of me is mad as hell about the “I don’t think it’s any of my business” part. What the hell? I’m not in my kitchen cooking crystal meth!
Next: Why it absolutely is your business…
I am a lesbian in an extraordinarily loving, committed relationship with the partner of my dreams. The reason that I’m not married to her in Tennessee is that people like YOU, who think it’s somehow respectable for you to turn a blind eye to my “choice,” continue to tolerate the violation of my basic civil rights as an AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Read the US Constitution… separation of church and state. Your “beliefs” and my RIGHTS as the daughter of not one, but two Veterans of the United States Air Force, have no business being in the same conversation. You claim to love this country. You claim to care about equality. Yet, you turn your back on me – the beautiful, talented, powerful woman you claim to love – politically when you say it’s none of your business. It is your business.
IT IS YOUR BUSINESS.
If my parents and all the rest of you who do so much to make this country the best it can be, continue to hide behind your “beliefs” about my sexual orientation, then you fail me. You fail people like me. You fail the United States of America. You fail yourselves. You are, perhaps without even realizing it, going against everything you actually “believe” about America and her potential.
Wake up. This isn’t about you. I don’t vote on your marriage. You have no right to vote on mine. If you think your “belief” about gay people gives you the right to vote on mine… you are grossly mistaken.
As for my wife being welcome in your home, that’s… well, insulting. I had two husbands and a slew of boyfriends in the thirty years it took me to figure out who I am. Each of them varying stations between spineless weasel and manipulative monster, not one with even a fraction of the love and respect and beauty that lives between her and me. You would never have said anything like that about anyone else I’ve ever loved.
We are human beings, with feelings, and at least mine are incredibly hurt.
Next: I’m cashing out of ‘The Game of Life”…
Lastly, let’s talk about your reassurance that I’m still loved. Here’s the thing I’ve learned through this coming out process: It’s like cashing out of The Game of Life to go play in Real Life.
Because I didn’t know myself, I had no sense of self-worth. I didn’t know me, so being me wasn’t something I could feel good about. Instead, I tried to be good enough. I tried to keep peace. I tried to be helpful. I tried to act right. I tried to be who I thought the people in my world wanted me to be. I thought that would make me successful. I had worked hard in that game world, accumulating lots of money and property (friends and love). The list of people I could count on was a mile long.
And then I came out of the closet… I wanted to live in the real world, my real world.
I was a millionaire in The Game of Life world… a big house, a big family, a big life, everything was big and looked perfect from the outside. To live in the Real World, I had to figure out how much of what I possessed in the game world could be used out here, in my real life. Coming out was like taking all of my game world possessions to the real world bank, dumping it all out in the teller’s window, and asking them to show me what’s real.
I cashed out, lost a great deal but found that even far less of what’s real is better than a fortune in the game world. Every now that then, I come across another stash, some game world possession (family member or friend) that hasn’t been tested. Luckily, I know how to test them for myself now:
Those who love me BECAUSE of who I am… that’s real world goods. That’s something I can play with here… in my REAL LIFE. And for those who love me IN SPITE of, trying to find a way to tolerate, who I am? That’s game world winnings and they are of no use to me out here.
Photo Credit: kenteegardin via Flickr