I grew up in an Irish Catholic home and didn’t have ANY exposure to the LGBTQ community for years yet somehow always felt ‘different’ than the world around me.
I was so sheltered I didn’t even understand sex, romantic feelings, hell I was even raised to believe that tampons were forbidden because they took away your virginity or something. All of this would cause problems as I grew up because despite how my parents were raising us in the privacy of their home they decided it would be a good idea to put us in American public schools where the culture was decidedly NOT Irish nor Catholic.
Talk about culture shock, sigh…
Eventually I would of course become exposed to ideas and teachings beyond what my parents had raised us with and it would be from the greater world that I would learn people could love someone other than their own gender. But as these lessons began to infiltrate my conscious my home community began shoving back by teaching us that anything but heterosexual, cisgender living was wrong – you’d suffer ETERNAL TORMENT if you did not live as your biologically born gender and love someone of the opposite gender.
It was during this time that I began to realize I had romantic feelings for girls along with boys – in fact I had more ‘crushes’ on girls than boys but continued to fight against it because I was scared these feelings were from ‘demons taking over my soul’.
I lived an incredibly confusing and mentally tormenting existence that would culminate in me becoming suicidal during my teen years.
Obviously I physically survived those years and made it to college where I had my first girlfriend. I dated girls, and the occasional guy when the right one crossed my path, until I moved back in with my parents.
I started dating a wonderful girl named Sara. I really cared about her and we even talked about moving in together going so far as to look at apartments and talk to leasing agents. But I was still so scared of my parents, and they were so incredibly hardcore anti-LGBTQ, that I left her and dated a guy my brother introduced me to. I would end up marrying him but before things became official with him we spent one more night together. I nearly gave into her request to come back but I knew being with her meant losing my family and I couldn’t do that.
My marriage to the guy wasn’t a happy one and things got so bad I began believing him that my family and our son would be better off without me alive so I attempted suicide for the last time. The only reason I survived is because a cousin found me in time and emergency services were able to provide life saving measures.
Years later I would meet someone who not only had no problem with my bisexuality but supported it and from that healing relationship I would gain my beautiful daughter. She was somehow born with this amazing sense of romance and love which taught me to see the world in a more positive light.
I wanted her raised in a home that was supportive and loving, particularly since she’s half Mexican and living in a country that seems to detest everything about her family. I wanted her to treat others with respect and only judge a person based on their actions not their culture, faith, skin color, gender, etc. Essentially I did NOT want her repeating the emotional and mental torment I dealt with growing up which led me to making some truly bad, life-altering choices. I’ve hoped that I was doing a good job at that but the other day told me I might have succeeded.
I often take her out to the movies, restaurants, shopping trips, etc so we can have some mother-daughter time where she can feel free to talk to me about whatever is on her mind without interruptions or judgement.
This day we had just left the PINK brunch at Victoria’s Secret and were on our way home when she started describing what she wants when she gets older. At first it was the typical stuff about clothes, what she thinks high school will be like, what she may want to be when she grows up, the normal kind of thing. Then she said something that had my eyes filling with happy tears.
“Mom when I grow up the boy or girl I love is going to be a good person”.
I know loving a good person is often on her mind because she has unfortunately been exposed to the bad things my first husband has done to me and continued to do years after we divorced. But it was the candid way she mentioned that she could fall in love with a boy OR a girl.
She doesn’t even realize there are people who say as a girl she can ONLY love a boy.
She doesn’t know the emotional and psychological torment that comes from being told you can ONLY be and do one thing, regardless of what you want, or risk severe punishment.
She doesn’t know that for a kid/teen/adult to say they love a different gender is normally a huge moment that can be fraught with anxiety at how it will be received or fear that you could be hurt, killed or left without family, a community.
All she knows is she wants to love a good person.
Knowing I’m succeeding at raising my daughter in a home where she doesn’t have to ‘come out’ because she can be whoever she wants to be, she can be whoever she is supposed to be and that is just the way it is – maybe it’s the first step to a world where we won’t be labeled anymore, we can just be us.
Where falling in love can JUST be something magical and not fraught with fear or confusion.