I had to go back to an old journal entry for today’s entry. It was from a conversation that I had with my Mom one morning after she invited me in for tea. The conversation centers on Christmas 2015 when my girlfriend and I were uninvited to celebrate Christmas with my Mother’s side of the family.
“Now came the big kahuna – we talked about Teta (this means Aunt in Croatian). We talked about how on Christmas both my Mom and Teta were really stressed and emotional. We talked about how Teta wasn’t the one who had an issue with my girlfriend and I being there. It was my cousins who didn’t want us there. My cousins did not want my girlfriend and I around their babies, basically. I told her that I knew that was the case. It’s not because they think we are going to behave inappropriately, I mean really what could they think was going to happen? We’d have sex on the floor? It is more of an internal navigation that they believe homosexuality is wrong, but now they have to manage the fact that they know me. I am a person they respect, have cared for, know is a good person, and have love for – but how can this person also be gay? That is why they are okay with seeing me alone because then they don’t have to manage that reality. By seeing me with her I cross over in their minds –or worse for them, maybe I don’t. Maybe the concrete foundation of bigotry and hate that they stand upon is rocked – Suddenly, the LGBTQ community is human. Suddenly, they are caring, loving, respectful people. Suddenly, something they have harbored so much hate for – the distant, satanic individual who they have nothing in common with is sitting across from them at the dinner table, eating with their children. So yeah, I understand the complexity of acknowledging my relationship – it would mean that maybe we aren’t all that different from you and your partner. Maybe, just maybe, we are actually all the same.
It is a hard reality to manage – I assume the part that all people struggle with is the part that diminishes the divide we have between us. We all, as humans, struggle with this reasoning of difference in many aspects of our lives, but none more painfully and brutally hateful and harmful as the reasoning of erasing this very visible line between us – how wonderful this world would be if we had less separation – less “us and them” and more we.”
I revisited this entry tonight because I came across a similar struggle with my sister today. My girlfriend and I have been together for two years and counting. She has been coming to family events with me, to my parents’ house on the weekend, and even to my niece’s weekend basketball games for the majority of that time. However, my niece still has not been told that we are a couple. That we, just like her Nana and Papi, love each other and that’s why we are always together at these different events. The only reason she is not aware of this fact is because my sister thinks she is “too young” to know about that and that she won’t understand. Personally, I believe that children learn through experience. My niece certainly understands the connection between her grandparents loving one another so why would it be difficult for her to understand the concept of my girlfriend and I? My sister has otherized my relationship and made it something taboo. She has taken this very beautiful and perfectly great thing to be in and turned it into something perverse that my 10 year-old niece could not “possibly” comprehend. Now maybe this decision is shrouded in fear. Maybe she thinks that by acknowledging it to my niece my niece will become more likely to be gay. The hurt and harm of that fear is that it means that she thinks I am bad, that I am unworthy of the same respect and rights as a hetero person, and that the person that I am is not “normal” and should not be talked about.
We are a product of the places that we come from and the models of behavior that we receive. If you are taught to hate, you will hate. If you are taught that some people do not deserve the same rights and respects as others, you will take that into your future. I have posted an incredible video along with this entry that switches the roles of same-sex couples and hetero couples in the US. In this video the world is Gay and the minority is Straight. Take a minute to think about the fact that we create these separations within our society. We can change this. We can stop hurting one another. We can come together and live peacefully. Respect is something that every person deserves. It is a human right, not a luxury offered only to the majority.