“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I’m in love! I am wildly, madly, deeply, paradigm-shiftingly, make up words if I want to, in love. And yes, I am in love with a woman.
Dear straight friend,
The other day when we were all hanging out, you with your husband and teenagers and I with my partner, I thought we were having such a lovely time. There was so much laughter and joy in the room, so much love and free flowing conversation. We were standing in the kitchen when it happened. Or maybe over by the fireplace. Or was it on the back porch? In a moment of unabashed happiness, my partner leaned over, radiant smile on her face and light in her eyes, she kissed me. Maybe I touched her face, maybe I looked into her eyes for the slightest of moments. And then the afternoon continued with more food and friends and fun. It felt like home. Like family. Finally.
It is now clear that our natural display of tender affection and genuine love made you very uncomfortable. It seems that you felt compelled to later talk to your teens about how we have sex. Huh? I’ve even heard that our gay hand holding and posting of date night pics on social media makes you uncomfortable.
I don’t understand, truly I don’t.
I know that you fancy yourself a modern gal, maybe even a tad progressive socially. You think you are supportive and you even believe you are not homophobic. But, guess what. You are. The only way my compassionate heart can even begin to make sense of your discomfort is by realizing that you must truly not understand and you are genuinely afraid of what you don’t understand. Ignorance and fear are a painful combination to be sure.
Let me try to help.
When you post a photo of you and your husband on Facebook, are you posting a pic of your straight marriage? Or are you sharing with pride and joy a snapshot of your tried and true love?
Imagine you are walking on the beach with your husband and there are other families enjoying the surf and sand, he reaches back to take your hand (I pray that he does), fingers interlaced in that way that is reserved for lovers, partners and spouses. Do you worry? Do you think, wow, this is some nice, straight hand holding, I sure hope it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable. Or do you feel closer to your husband? Do you feel affection for your partner? Do you feel loved and loving?
Or, if you are out on an otherwise mundane evening having another ordinary dinner and something about an earlier conversation in the day, or perhaps the way his hair needs a little trim, or the way he knows what you like to drink, compels you to lean over and kiss him…do you think, wow, what a great straight kiss this is? Do you stop yourself before your tender peck to wonder and worry that your PDA is going to force some other mama to have “the talk” with her kids? Or do you feel loving and loved?
I get it, no one really wants to see people making out in public. ANY PEOPLE. It is a private moment, intimate and sexual and it makes me uncomfortable too.
But hand holding, a gentle touch on the shoulder or the small of the back, a brief but tender kiss – these are signs of affection that you get to share with your husband (I hope) naturally, anywhere and anytime you want. You are not waving your straightness in people’s faces, you are expressing love and affection for your person.
What is this life you have with your husband? Is it all boiled down to how you have sex? Is that how you explain it to your children? Or is there something more? Is there a connection of your hearts and minds that made you choose one another, forsake all others, and build a life together that includes sharing a home, supporting one another in your individual pursuits, listening deeply when the other is hurting and laughing together when the joy is contagious? Do you pay bills and play board games and read books and go to movies and call each other a couple times of day and send “I’m stopping to pick up dog food, what else do we need” text messages on the way home? Do you do these things as straight people or as people?
Sure, you get to have your own feelings, opinions and religious beliefs. And of course you get to impart those things to your children. But you don’t get tell your friends and family that you’re not homophobic and then ask me and my partner to live less a life, or a secret life to make you feel more comfortable. Your feelings, opinions or beliefs do not get to dictate how we live into our full humanity. And your opinions and feelings absolutely don’t get to create laws that give me only a portion of the human and civil rights that you have, even if they are (especially if they are) hiding behind the mask of religion. But the fact that it is NOT a civil right to use religion to legalize discrimination is a topic for another day.
Please try to understand, when those guys post a cute photo of themselves on date night, they weren’t on a gay date, they were on a date.
When you see two women holding hands on the beach or at dinner or anywhere they want, they are not gay hand holding, they are just hand holding.
If you happen to see a gay couple share a little kiss, it is not gay kissing, it is kissing.
And if we get married, it will not be a gay marriage. It will be a marriage.
Your sister in Christ,