Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where the commitment came from

Bacchus asks:

You said in an earlier post that your husband is very dedicated to providing a
home for LGBT youth. Was your family dedicated to LGBT equality before or did it
come about because of David?

First, Bacchus, you meant Carl, but I understand the question. The answer depends upon what you meant by dedication. I mean, there's believing in something, and then there is getting off your a$$.

One of my best friends my freshman year in college came out to me when we were sophomores. She had moved to a new college back in her home state, and had just come out to herself. She was the first openly gay person I had a relationship with. Though it was my freshman year that I was "accused" of being a lesbian and first had to face that "I'm not, but it shouldn't matter" experience, it wasn't until I was a sophomore that I knew that someone I cared about was gay. I met Hubby during our junior year and that friend was the maid of honor at our wedding. She was the first openly GLBT person I knew.

Hubby on the other hand had grown up knowing a couple of gay and lesbian couples. He doesn't know at what point he figured out that they were not "just roommates." The lesbian couple still live near his parents' summer place. They celebrated their 35th anniversary a couple of years ago. Okay...this is a little complicated when I am trying not to use names -- the school teachers have a friend who is, among other things, a singer. She made a CD of which my MIL gave me a copy. The first song was one of Brian's favorites when he was a preschooler. The chorus is, "Everybody wants a mommy, to dry your tears and tie your shoe. Everybody wants a mommy. Well I got lucky; I got lucky; I got two." I don't know how many times I had to restart that CD.

A couple of years before we became Carl's parents, there was a woman (I'll call her "Lydia") who worked where I do for a year. A colleague, "Chris" and I had an agreement that we would let the other know when she finally came out to either one of us. We waited a couple of months pretending we hadn't figured it out the first time we met her. Finally Lydia mentioned something to me. She asked me if Chris knew. I said yes. She said, "Do you really think so? I mean yesterday he said..." I interrupted her and said, "He knows. Trust me. He knows." I told him the next day and he was very grateful that she had come out and that I had told her that he knew. "Trying to pretend I don't know was really difficult. I've said the stupidest things!"

Her partner was only going to move to the area if Lydia's job became permanent (it didn't), but she did come out to visit. We invited them over for dinner. Lydia later told me that her partner was nervous because she doesn't normally like men but that Hubby and I were "just like a couple of lesbians." Hubby was disturbed when I told him that, but calmed down when I said it meant the same thing as when men say that some woman feels like "one of the guys."

Lydia spent a lot of time here the year she worked at the college. She was here for dinner at least once a week. Her parrot still rests in a grave at the side of the house where we buried one early morning. Why is Lydia important to the story? I'm not certain, but it feels very important. Lydia was not my friend, or Hubby's parents friend, she was our friend.

I've come to realize that for a lot of straight people it is personal experience that makes the difference. Really knowing, loving, someone who is gay can put you over the line. Make you realize that the many of the beliefs you had were false, or push you from believing in civil rights to doing something about it.

I've told the story about becoming Carl's parents, but I'll remind anyone who forgot, or never read that post, about two things: first, Hubby and I both felt very strongly that we should take Carl. It was one of the biggest decisions of our lives and we spent less time debating it than we normally spend wondering where to go to eat when no one wants to cook. We just "knew." We could do this and so we should. The second thing is that we did not know that Carl was gay until after we volunteered. When the social worker told us the thought that popped into my head was, "Oh! That's why we're supposed to do be his parents!"

People who know me from real life realize what an odd thing that is for me to think. I roll my eyes when people talk about G-d intervening in our daily lives "I was so frustrated during that traffic jam, but now I see that G-d wanted me to be late so that..." Right, I think, G-d caused a couple hundred or thousand people to be late so that you would be home for a phone call. I don't believe in destiny. I don't think that everything happens for a reason. I think that accidents happen, and people make their own choices. Yet at that moment I felt like my strong conviction that I should be Carl's mom suddenly made sense.

Becoming parents of a gay kid absolutely kicked our commitment to GLBT equality into high(er) gear. Before it was an opinion we were ready to share with anyone who asked. After it was a cause. We do less activism than many, but more than some. But it is very clear to both of us that we do what we do because it is about our kid.

We never intended to take any kids after Carl. It was just going to be him. It didn't work out that way though. After he moved out and the agency asked us if we would consider it, Hubby and I agreed that if Ann, whom we had come to know and care about, needed us we would take her. Other than that though, we were going to ease out of doing care.

Except that we had learned how difficult it was for GLBT kids, especially in our state. We told them that if there was another one who needed us, they should call.

They said that Carl was the first openly gay kid in the division, ever. They had no idea when or even if there would be another.

And we said that's okay. We'll wait.


  1. GREAT post. I have goosebumps and tears. Really knowing, loving someone who is, gay, black, Native American, disabled, insert any minority here, is the way most of us find ourselves really beginning to understand their world. Thanks.


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