Something very personal and hurtful happened this evening. A good friend came to town for a visit and brought her elderly mother along. We’ve known them for nearly 15 years, and her mother has made comments about us being “like her own daughters.” She’s always been nice to us and accepting of our relationship.
A little while back our friend told us that her mother said something about hoping we’d have a boy instead of a girl because she was concerned about the influence two lesbians would have on a girl.
Tonight at dinner, somehow the topic of marriage came up and we both commented about going somewhere so we can get married. The mom (daughter had gone to the bathroom, btw) said “Why would you bother? It doesn’t count here anyway.” We agreed with that, but then she said, “You know I love you, but I don’t agree with same sex marriage.” She commented further about how she loves and accepts us and that we are always welcome in her home, then she acted as if she was going to cry. I couldn’t restrain my frustration and said, “All the love in the world won’t help us in a court of law.”
This got me thinking about those who claim they love us, but do nothing to support us, or at worst make an effort to hurt us.I know that both of them vote Republican. I would be willing to bet that both of them voted for the marriage amendment when it came up back in their home state. Even our friend has made comments about how she doesn’t see the need for us to marry because she’s always thought of us as married.
Both my partner and I talked about this tonight and we truly think they don’t realize how deeply their words hurt us. If after 15 years of knowing us and seeing us live our lives no differently than they do doesn’t change their minds and hearts, how can anything do it? It makes me feel hopeless.
Tomorrow there will be an organization called The Call marching down Church St. in Nashville directly through the gay district to call the nation to redemption and repentance for its sin. One of those sins includes homosexuality (SURPRISE! Not). The gay bookstore, Outloud, on Church St. is calling for a peaceful response to the protest by providing water and snacks to the walkers.
The LGBT community has been trying for decades now to rise above those who think less of us. What has it brought us? Do we really think that providing water will change hearts and minds of those who think we’re evil when simply living, working, and being around those who claim to love us can’t?
I sit here typing this, thinking about the events of tonight, and feeling the hurt wash over me while the woman who spoke hurtful words to me and my pregnant partner sleeps in another room, probably thinking little, if at all, about tonight’s events.
She’ll leave here patting herself on the back for tolerating us and “loving” us, yet by making the comments she has told me that she doesn’t think we’re as good as her or deserving of the social, cultural, religious, or legal rights she can participate in. She may “love us” but we’re still second class citizens.
My partner asked tonight, “Why do we tolerate people like this in our lives?” I honestly don’t know. This woman isn’t the only person we know who thinks of us this way. My partner’s brother and his wife feel the same way (also big Bush supporters too). Perhaps it’s the same drive that is making our local bookstore hand out water to those who will be preaching about how evil we are. The desire to be a better and bigger person, perhaps a more Christian person than they are. Maybe there’s a piece of us just glad that those who claim to “love us” do tolerate us and are not a part of the fundamentalist groups that march in the streets against us.
But it doesn’t erase the hurt.
Yesterday, while shopping in Target, we all went our separate ways looking around. Our friend came up to my partner asking if I was okay. She told her what her mother had said and this really upset our friend.
A few minutes later our friend caught me alone and apologized profusely. She clarified that she didn’t think the same way and that she was completely pissed at her mom. Her exact words were “You guys get enough shit from the rest of the world, you don’t need it from family too.” Apparently, this isn’t the first time it’s happened because she said that she’s told her mom to keep her opinions to herself around her gay friends and that her mom “doesn’t know when to shut up.” She even offered to not allow her mom to come back with her on these trips to see us. In the middle of all of this, she started to cry because she knew the comments hurt and she didn’t want to see us hurt.
My temptation was to accept her offer to leave her mom at home for this offense, but considering that we, as GLBT folks, tend to live on hope and kindness, I wouldn’t allow that. If her mom, in spite of her beliefs, would “accept us” in her house, then we could do the same. Even if my own family, whom I haven’t spoken to in over 5 years showed up at my door, I’d let them into my home and be pleasant until they pushed me not to be. These friends are like family, and thus this hurt as if they ARE family. They’re not mere acquaintances that can be tossed aside so, like with family, we have to either ignore or work through our differences. We may love our family, but we don’t always have to like them.
There’s one place where I draw the line and that’s with our child. I told our friend that for her mom to say these things to us was one thing. We have tougher skins and have dealt with a lot of pain already. This is just one more to add to the heap. However, if her mom says one thing in front of our daughter, I will cut her loose, like I’ve done my own family, and think nothing of it.
What will happen from here I don’t know. I’m sure our friend will give a good talking to to her mom, but I doubt it will make much difference.
My partner and I have kicked around the idea of where her beliefs come from. We assume, that this woman being an elderly Catholic woman, it has to do with her religious beliefs, yet we find it ironic because she doesn’t even attend church anymore. Our friend even made a comment to me in Target that her mom should know all to well how it hurts to be judged because she was divorced, which we all know doesn’t sit well with traditional Catholics.
I doubt I’ll ignore her or her beliefs. If it comes up again, as with anyone else, I’ll challenge it. A religious belief doesn’t exempt a person from getting challenged. Being elderly, set in his/her ways, or simply being hardheaded doesn’t exempt one either from challenge. If she speaks her mind, then she better expect me to speak mine as well. If she doesn’t want to be challenged, she certainly doesn’t have to be around us. This was the same line I took with my own family, so it’s good enough for her too.
Eventually, to save me and my partner the endless pain, hurt, and frustration, I did have to cut off my family. I hope I don’t have to do this here. I’d like to believe that one day she’ll change her opinions, but I don’t hold much hope.