Tag Archives: Same Sex Marriage

Love Makes a Family

magic-kingdomAfter all these years, I am still rendered silent. I was visiting my dad when the same sex marriage ruling came down. He is eighty, a widow of almost 4 years, lonely, bitter about the loss of my mother, and generally crabby and critical. I love him dearly. And I couldn’t express my joy at the Supreme Court ruling. I couldn’t even bring it up. And no one else did. I have 3 adult brothers and 3 sisters-in-law – none of them mentioned it.

Homophobia is a sneaky bastard. You think you are free of it but it sits there waiting for just the right opportunity to rear its ugly self. I have a lot of excuses going through my head about protecting my dad, not wanting to get into it, not wanting the attention. A lot of crap. I just didn’t have the nerve. I was afraid to bring it up because I know how he feels. He tolerates, but he does not accept. When I got married (8 years ago), my parents refused to attend, and if we had any kind of reception or celebration (which we did not), I was told under no uncertain terms, they would not attend that either.

During my recent visit my spouse was back home, my two teenage daughters were with me. I talked to them about it and we looked at photos of the White House and Disneyland lit up in the colors of the rainbow flag. I said something lame about not not mentioning it to Grandpa because who knows how he would react and we chuckled. We chalked it up to his grumpy nature.

But I feel lousy about it. I feel like I failed my kids and myself. I am out to my dad and my brothers, but I felt like I was back in the closet. It’s an awful feeling. A numbing, soul crushing feeling.

Love makes a family, but love is complicated. For me, love has meant hiding and appeasing and balancing who I am with who my parents, my brothers, even my extended family, want me to be. And I’m pretty old for this. At this point, I really shouldn’t care. But in the house I was raised in, with my father and my brothers and the ghost of my mother in every plate and painting and throw rug, I went silent.

It is hard to love people so deeply when they are closed to who you really are and what you are up against.

I am working on a novel, and this theme is at its crux, so no wonder I hem and haw and work hard to avoid writing. Those personal things are so, well, personal. But they are the stuff we have to get at if we are to make the writing worthy, whole, beautiful.

I just finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I imagine this is the book she had to write. It is pretty amazing. While I read it I had almost an out-of-body experience. I have never met her, but I could feel her writing it, I could sense what it took. I knew that writing journey.

Writing is an art, a craft I am passionate about. I never thought of writing my novel as a cathartic or psychoanalytical process. But in truth, this huge part of it. I am writing to break the silence. Seems a bit extreme – an awful lot of work to come out of the closet. But writing has always been my weapon of choice.

In the eighties there was a poster/bumper sticker that I never see anymore: Silence=Death. Created in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, it was a rallying cry for coming out, for dignity, for activism. It would seem we are beyond this, with our rainbow flags and equal signs, but I still hold on to this image. For me, it resonates beyond the political. It speaks to me as a woman, a lesbian, a writer. Silence for me has been a crutch and a coping mechanism. It choked me at my fathers’ home and when I read the dissents of the justices the silence welled up in me again. There is so much hate.

Yes, we can choose our family. We can create a circle of like-minded friends and peeps. But that family we came from, despite time and distance and push and pull, they still have a lot of power. So I hug my kids. I cry on the phone to my other half. And I write. I choose to write.

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Don’t be a Drag, Just be a Queen

imagesCANEDQ48History this week in the tiny state of Rhode Island. Now, along with coffee milk, the Big Blue Bug, clam cakes and the Superman building, we have gay marriage.

I am hardly what you would call an activist, but I did a little. Wrote a letter, sent emails, even volunteered at a phone bank asking people if I could transfer them to their senator’s voicemail so they could leave a message in support of same-sex marriage. I think I did all this, not because I so strongly believe in the institution of marriage, or because I wanted to be involved in a civil rights movement, or because I want a better future for my children, but because I couldn’t stand the hate.

I can’t explain what it feels like to hear protesters announce their disgust at you, or have the Catholic Bishop of Providence, in a state that’s 85% Catholic, tell his constituents that gay marriage is immoral, and that they will suffer consequences if they don’t fight against it. I know I shouldn’t take any of this personally, but I do. These things all scream out – something is wrong with you. You are not worthy. And people get away with it. They are allowed to display their hate. They are free to disparage and sling shit your way, and even rationally discuss why you are less than.

Truth be told, it breaks my heart. Despite the victory of this vote, and the progress and the hard work and the fight, grace, integrity and compassion of so many people, there is still the hate.

And this makes me weary. I go to Stop & Shop, I wear an old J Jill sweater and flats, my dye job is growing out at my temples, I look like the haggard mother of teenage girls that I am, I’m buying frozen edamame and Friendly’s Butter Crunch ice cream, and somewhere in that store someone thinks I am immoral, or unworthy, or not the same, not as good as, not quite right.

When I was younger I thought, tough shit. It’s their problem. But now I think, this is too much shame for people to throw around, for people to drag around. We need to stop shaming each other. We need to be better people.

I want to be a better person. I want to absorb the hate like a Buddhist and meditate it to a pulp and  breathe it back into the world as kindness and hope.

I will start then by thanking all the people who worked tirelessly on this campaign, and for all the Catholics that listened to their own heart, mind and God, and for all the civil rights believers and fighters and all the people, straight and gay, young and old, religious and not-so-much, who cheered mightily when the vote passed and the victory sounded and in a second change happened.

I will call on gratitude to fight the hate.

How will you fight it?

 

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