“Be with someone whose hand you can hold in front of their parents.”
These words keep replaying in my head over and over since the girl I love sent them to me a few days ago. We all deserve that, don’t we? Don’t we all deserve the ability to be in a relationship with somebody who we don’t have to hide and who doesn’t have to hide us? But I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days and there’s a problem with this. I’m a lesbian. For me, that person will have to be a girl. The problem is, there are still far too many parents, far too many people in general, who see me holding a girl’s hand, and have it symbolize anything more than a platonic relationship, and will look away in disgust or start spewing off hateful things. There’s a good chance that I may never find a girl whose hand I can hold in front of her parents; this is something that I accepted a long time ago knowing that there are simply too many hateful and ignorant people out there, too many parents who refuse to accept their children as they are. It’s something I accepted when my own mother threatened to put me through conversion therapy after she forced me out of the closet.
I might find somebody else who feels that they simply can’t come out and again have to remain hidden from their family, something that I understand and accept and can live with, because in my opinion the status of a relationship is the business of the people in the relationship and no one else’s anyway. Perhaps I might find somebody who simply doesn’t care what their parents think and would be willing to hold my hand in front of less than accepting parents, perhaps to spite them if for no other reason. But in that case I would be unable to bare being under the disgusted gaze of those parents, and unable to bare feeling as if I’m simply being used to spite bigots. And don’t get me wrong, I get a bit of a thrill from doing things to spite bigots, but I would never intentionally use somebody else to achieve that. There’s a chance I might find somebody who came out and is estranged from their parents because of it, or estranged from their parents for any number of reasons. I can’t hold somebody’s hand in front of their parents if their parents are no longer a part of their life. Then there’s also a chance that I might find somebody whose parents are willing to tolerate their daughter being in a relationship with another woman, so long as we don’t show any sort of physical affection in front of them, holding hands included.
I’ve been in these situations with everyone I’ve ever been with. It’s a fact of life for those of us in the community, because while we have begun to make strides toward a better future, we haven’t made much progress in the places where it matters most. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in our favor is great and it’s a big step, but it’s not as important as the changes and strides that we need to start making on the streets, in homes, and in churches. Just because a few Supreme Court justices say that two consenting adults have the right to love each other and share a life together, doesn’t mean that parents, “friends,” pastors, and others won’t try and take that right away from us or at the very least frown upon us taking advantage of that right as we should.
Sure, there’s a chance I might somehow eventually manage to move on… or maybe not so much move on as maybe somehow manage to find room in my heart for someone else (which I still find highly unlikely anyway and in all honesty, I don’t care if it’s 30 years from now, nothing will ever stop me from dropping everything and running back to the girl who owns and will always own my heart should the chance ever present itself), and sure there’s a chance that I might be able to hold that person’s hand in front of their parents. But it’s far more likely that, should I ever manage to find anyone else who is willing to put up with my endless list of flaws and short comings and isn’t just looking to take a part of me that I’m not willing to give, and who I can manage to love back as much as they might love me, I’ll still have to be kept a secret, or will only be used as a tool for spite, or for any number of reasons will still be unable to hold that person’s hand in front of their parents. Until more people start fighting, until lose who chose to sit back and silently watch us lose decide to start standing up and speaking out, to make a bigger difference where it matters most, and until more people, especially parents, start letting go of their hatred and ignorance and learning how to open their hearts, minds, and eyes to accept love, then this is an unfortunate fact of life that all, or at least many, in the LGBTQA+ community must face.