I'm a suburban lesbian parent who lives life very much like any suburban heterosexual parent. For me it's a wonderful existence, not some sort of attempt to Blend In or Be Like Them. It just so happens that homosexuals and heterosexuals can have the same values, standards, dreams and aspirations. Imagine.
Sometimes I feel I do blend in. A bit too much. Through the relative quiet-tude of our suburban life, turbulent undercurrents occasionally run. Take, for example, the situation I'm about to describe. It's the nutshell version, names changed to protect the innocent, yada yada yada.
The 21-year-old daughter of A Good Friend (AGF for short) came out as a lesbian to her family over a year ago. I've known this young woman since she was in elementary school; our families have been close friends for years. Their entire family has always been extremely welcoming to Wendy and me and The Boy.
AGF is having difficulty with her daughter being a lesbian. AGF's husband is having even greater difficulty with it. AGF's daughter is having difficulty dealing with her parents having difficulty accepting her sexuality.
Oooh la la, what an awkward pickle! It's like one of those extra large deli pickles, the kind that's too fat to take an easy bite of. Ever snacked on one of those? Mmmm garlicky. But this particular pickle threatens to choke me. It's not garlicky-good at all.
I understand homosexuality can be difficult for parents to accept, that their vision of their daughter's future is shattered by her revelation, that their hopes and dreams are radically affected. I, too, am scared for her because, let's face it, life for a homosexual in America is not always easy. But what life is? At the same time, I resent them making her life all the more difficult by making their issues hers.
The daughter, I want to hug tightly, protect, and reassure all will be fine. I want to ask her to be patient and to remember her parents love her.
AGF doesn't know it, or maybe she does, but when she and I dance around the topic, my stomach clenches and I fumble for words. Yet I can imagine what she is experiencing and do my best to offer support. I want to hug her tightly also, protect and reassure all will be fine. I'd do the same for her husband if he'd let me.
At times I bite my tongue to keep from screaming, "She's your daughter dammit, the same wonderful daughter she's always been. Her sexuality is not the problem. The problems are your dashed expectations and, admit it or not, your pride. It's complicated by her perhaps naive belief you would accept her without hesitation. She has always enjoyed your unconditional love. She trusts you. So challenge yourselves, dammit. Nothing less will do."
But I've not said that to her. Out loud. I don't doubt she knows it all already. As a parent and friend, I feel her pain. It is real enough to touch. AGF is dealing not only with her own feelings but is also shouldering those of her husband and children. Such effort requires a delicate balance only a master juggler, or a mother, should attempt. Baby steps are fine. As long as steps are taken.
My fear for the family harmony is not rooted in their daughter being gay. It's rooted in what will happen if AGF and her husband do not come to terms with who their daughter is. Because really. How long do they think their daughter will call their home "home" if her significant other is never welcome and she is not accepted for who she is?
My head can't even go there, never mind my heart.