Death of a Reluctant Lesbian - Ode to my mother

I went to my husband.  He said it was a phase, that I did different things for about three years and then got tired of doing them.  He said I would get over this too and go on to the next thing, and he would try to wait.  But this time, he said, I did get him angry, and he was running out of patience with me.

I wrote to my parents, a short, painful, to-the-point letter.  A few weeks after her and my own agony, my mother wrote to me: they were “not pleased with my news.”  She included a check and a brief reminder that my job, my responsibility, was the well-being, physical and emotional, of my children.  She sent love from both of them to all of us.  My father said and wrote nothing.  Nothing has been said about my “issue” since. The name lesbian has not been mentioned again, not by any of them.

I do not think there is a “conspiracy.”  There is just their silence. I know that the trials of my life so far have been far less harrowing than most have had to endure.  I have heard some “stories” with far more pain.  My gay and lesbian friends tell me I am luckier than most of us are, and that I should not be “too brave” and name myself in too many places.  If I am to manage to get along, to get a job and have a decent place to live, I should be quieter about who I am and be content to be known by just a few, trustworthy friends (who are, of course, also homosexual).  I trust these friends and know they are far wiser than I will ever be, and braver; they have already suffered years of exposure - not just the sticks and stones of children, but the “slings and arrows” of homophobic adults.  I listen to their warnings and I am afraid.  I write with many names, rarely my own.  And I am afraid I will lose myself in their and my own fears.  I do not like being afraid. I do not like being lonely.

I am often lonely.  I do not want to be socially isolated.  I know when they call me names they do so to isolate me, to separate themselves from the likes of me, so they need not fear being contaminated, seduced or intimidated by me.  But what are they afraid of from me? Do they fear my, our, daring to be different, to be who we are (for whatever reason!)?  I question their motives and their fear and their labeling me.  I am no threat in being who I am. Does the continuation of civilization depend on their need to label me?  I do not advocate the downfall of my country, the disestablishment of my religion, or the dismemberment of my own or any family.  I am for all those things.  I wish they were for me. But I will not be labeled by those who fear me.

I will name myself: I am not “sick” because I am afraid.  I am not a sociopath because I am lonely.  I am not a martyr, nor should any of us be.  We not need wear pink triangles in the street or lavender buttons from the local bookstores unless we choose to do so.  We need not march in the street together, today.  We have the right to be who we are and to name ourselves with pride when and how we choose, without fear of reprisal or intimidation from anyone, especially from those we love.  I would not hurt them.  Why would they allow others to hurt me?

I cannot live at peace with myself in a closet in my own home.  I do not know if I will have a home to live in if I break down that closet door.  Like you, I want to live as freely as I can without losing everyone and everything I love.  I am still afraid.  I am also aware of the danger to me not just of those who call me names but of those who will not allow me to name myself.

I may be a good person or bad, a hero or a coward.  But I am who I say I am.  I am whatever name I choose to give myself.  I have the right to exist without fear of them.  They may scorn me or hate me.  They cannot legally hurt me.

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