It may or may not surprise regular readers to hear this, but I have never pushed back against my parents’ homophobia. And it’s not that it doesn’t come up, it does. When it does I don’t participate. Instead, I just sit in silence. But I can’t justify doing that anymore. I can no longer remain silent.
My former coworker Dave was sixteen when he attempted to take his life, ten years ago. He grew up in a Baptist home in a family very involved in church activities, and he could not reconcile his religious beliefs with his sexuality. And so he swallowed a bottle of pills. He blacked out and woke up later, surrounded by blood and vomit. It was not until he left for college and found LGBTQ-affirming friends that things finally looked up for Dave, and he was finally able to embrace who he was.
I cannot stay silent for Dave.
My friend June has to be careful where she and her family travel. June’s partner, Ann, has legally adopted their son, Patterson, but that adoption is not recognized in many states. In those states, Ann is a legal stranger to both June and Patterson. June and Ann cannot marry—their state does not allow it. June and Ann have been together over ten years, and they conceived Patterson together through in vitro fertilization. And yet, in many states if there was an accident June’s estranged parents would be called in to make life or death decisions for June and Patterson while Ann would be shut out completely.
I cannot stay silent for June and Ann.
My friends Steve and Jared would love to marry and start a family together someday. They tell me that they will have to choose carefully what state to live in based not only on its marriage law but also its law on things like adoption and surrogacy.
I cannot stay silent for Steve and Jared.
My friend whom I will call Kate has been broken up because her Christian college recently censored her alumni profile. It makes her sick that she has been treated as less than by her own alma mater. This has been really hard for her.
I cannot stay silent for Kate.
My friends Haley and Melissa are raising their four biological children together. They chose the city where they now live because it had a reputation for being a safe place for LGBTQ individuals, and when you’re a lesbian couple that includes a transgendered woman, safety matters a great deal.
I cannot stay silent for Haley and Melissa.
I have a double digit number of siblings. Odds are, one of them is queer. That sibling may not know that I support them. That sibling may only hear condemnations of who they are, whether from my parents, from my parents’ church, and from their conservative homeschool community.
I cannot stay silent for my siblings.
I have the luxury of being silent. Dave, June, Ann, Steve, Jared, Kate, Haley, and Melissa do not have the luxury of being silent. For them, this is their life. These comments my parents make? These comments effect my LGBTQ friends in a way they will never effect me. I cannot justify staying silent any longer. I will not be complicit in their oppression.
These holidays, when my parents make a homophobic comment, I will say something.
It matters too much not to speak.