A Family Affair

Thursday, June 2, 2011
First posted on July 22, 2010.

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Every once in a while, someone asks me why I'm so vehement about gay rights.

Aside from the fact that sticking up for minorities who are being discriminated against is simply the right thing to do, I have a more personal reason for standing up when it comes to equality for gay Americans - the Smart Girl is a lesbian.

When she first came out to me (she was about 15, I think), it took me a bit of time to realign my perception of her. Not because I wished her sexual orientation was otherwise, but because a person's sexuality is an aspect of who they are. I simply needed to start looking at her in a slightly different way. One thing I didn't do, however, was ask her if "she was sure," or to tell her she'd "grow out of it." I've made a lot of mistakes with my daughter (like every parent on the planet, I suspect), but I trust that I would not disrespect her in this particular way. Being gay is part of who she is, and to deny that aspect of her life would be to deny her, and there's no way I would have done that. I tried to make it clear to her, and to everyone in my life, that not accepting my baby girl for who she is would earn you a one-way ticket to "you're dead to me" junction, with extreme prejudice.

Prior to learning about the Smart Girl, I always thought that the LGBT community got the short end of the stick when it came to equal rights in this country (Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Seriously?). I made sure I voted against laws that discriminated against them, and supported candidates and laws that encouraged equal treatment under the law. But it wasn't until I had some personal skin in the game that I became vehement.

Having a family member, a family member for whom you would storm the gates of Hell with nothing more than a wad of cotton and a toothpick, belong to a group that is routinely discriminated against makes the matter personal. Extremely personal. When some self-righteous asshat proclaims that gay men and lesbians don't deserve equal treatment under the law because they "violate the natural order" or that their "lifestyle" is a "sin against the Lord," my blood just BOILS. I want to beat them about the head and shoulders with the complete works of Jane Goodall, followed by the administration of the water test. That's my daughter you're talking about, you sanctimonious fuck. Who the hell do you think you are, to suggest that my baby girl isn't deserving of all the very best things in life, simply because she's different than you? She's focused, smart, disciplined, self-sufficient, compassionate and has a fierce intellect. She's a straight A student, has a job, and is involved in her community. She loves opera, anime, and books, and dislikes roses and pantyhose. She's not a second-class citizen, and does not deserve to be treated like one because people can't see past their own prejudice and bigotry.

Having a daughter who is a lesbian has taught me a huge lesson. While tribalism can sometimes be a bad thing, it can also expand your concept of who's "like you." The Smart Girl is, first and foremost, my child. For me, the fact that she's also a lesbian means not that she's "different," but that all the other lesbians and gay men in the world are also my children, and deserving of the same protection as the Smart Girl. I'm happy that my family is larger and more diverse. Now, for me, doing the right thing by the LGBT community isn't just politics, or a dedication to what's right and fair - it's a family affair.

3 comments:

warner said...

Would I like it if it was done to me?

No? Then not only should I not be doing it, but I should try and make certain that others don't either.

anissa_roy said...

Hi there, found you through Stonekettle Station and am browsing your posts.

I love this post. If you'd said this to me in person, I'd stand up and applaud. Your daughter is very lucky to have an awesome mom like you, and I'm sure she knows it.

Janiece said...

Welcome, anissa_roy. Pull up a chair and stay awhile.