What does the word "out" make you think of?
Out of doors?
Out of milk, toilet paper, dog food?
There were a lot of years in my life when the word out could have meant any of the above definitions.
Twelve years ago, the word "out" started to have a whole new meaning for me.
We had dinner that evening.
A real sit-down dinner.
Which was uncommon for us. She had been troubled. Her Dad and I had talked about it, trying to figure out what was wrong. That night, after dinner, I asked her again what was wrong. Finally she answered.
"There is something so wrong with me that people will hate me."
I looked at her beautiful, sixteen-year-old face. So sweet.
Who could hate you I said? Why?
She looked at me and said
I remember reading Ellen's mother's book years later and she described the very feelings I was experiencing at that moment. All the things I thought I would have went flying away from me. A son-in-law, grand-children, all of the girl things I had imagined for my daughter.
I didn't know what to say. I thought I was liberal, didn't think I was prejudice, but when these words pertained to my child, it felt different. It made everything different.
I sat there, silent.
"Say something"she said.
"I think I'm going to throw up?" I said.
She was sixteen years old and she had just told me that she was gay and I said
"I think I'm going to throw-up."
I don't think I will ever get over saying that to her at that moment. How awful.
Even though I spoke honestly at that moment, I stuck beside her. I think for the entire first year, I couldn't say out loud "my daughter is gay," without my voice breaking. I learned to "test the waters" before telling certain people. The town I was born in and grew up in is to this day, very straight and narrow. It hurt me to think that someone might dismiss my daughter or define her based upon her sexual orientation.
My daughter left that town her junior year of high school to attend a school where there were other students like her and she bloomed. The school was diverse and filled with extremely intelligent students. The class sizes were small and much the same as one experiences in college. The students lived in dorms. People asked me how I could let her leave home at such a young age and go off to school. For her, it was a wonderful place to be.
There were other gay students. One time at the school I met a young lady who stood, as if to honor me as she shook my hand. She told me how my daughter had told her about me. As we walked away, I asked my daughter what that was all about.
"When she came out, her parents dis-owned her."
I grew up in the Foursquare Pentecostal church. There is a scripture that talks about how nothing will separate us from the love of God.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Even before I had children, I always knew that was the way that I was going to love my children.
After high-school, she completed her undergrad at Indiana University in Bloomington (where I now live) which is the number one gay vacation destination. Then she headed to the east coast to attend law school.
She and her partner just got married in D.C. where gay marriage is legal. My daughter's family stood on one side, her partner's family stood on the other side. We all had a part in the wedding. Promising to love and support this union. The judge who presided was a beautiful African American woman. She was beautiful inside and out. When we thanked her for performing the ceremony, she told us that it was her honor and privilege and that she had fallen in love with these two women and the way they love one another.
While finishing my undergrad, I worked at Ball State. I was mostly out at the university. I felt that if I was open about my daughter being gay, it might help someone else. Most of the students would react the same way... "that is cool that you are so cool about it." But I couldn't be out with everyone because we hadn't told my parents yet. I didn't want to tell them. They are Pentecostals, too and I thought they would reject her. My daughter came home to Indiana in August, a special trip, just to tell them.
We sat in the living room and my daughter began...
"Whenever you would ask me if I had a boyfriend, and I would say I was studying, out of respect for Mom, that was kind of a lie. I was studying, but I was often in a relationship, but with a woman."
My Dad is a little hard of hearing and leaned forward
"Did you say that you were in a relationship with a woman?"
Then she proceeded to tell them that she had fallen in love and was going to marry a woman.
Again, my dad leans forward
"Did you say you were going to marry a woman?"
So now it isn't a secret any longer. I have a beautiful, intelligent, successful daughter and a new beautiful, intelligent, successful daughter-in-law.
I always joked that my daughter always wanted me to wave a flag and say
"Yay, yay, my daughter is gay!"
This is me, being out.
I'm waving my flag for you, now.
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