Terrified: a word that means “caused to feel extreme fear.”
Terrified: a word my family loves to use when they talk about my same-sex relationship.
Terrified: a word I would be okay never hearing again.
Who knew that a committed, loving, trustworthy, and happy relationship could strike fear into the hearts of the people who should be my strongest supporters and confidants? Who knew that coming to terms with who I am would make my family become consumed with worry for my eternal salvation? Who knew that having your child enter into a same sex relationship would go against “everything our family stands for” and tear your family apart? I surely did not know these correlations existed. I also haven’t seen any of my family members walking around missing limbs, so I’m inclined to doubt the whole tearing them apart thing… But, apparently, that’s what a woman dating a woman can do to a conservative, Southern, bible-believing family. Well, shit.
It all started innocently enough. I honestly never thought I’d date a woman. We had both only dated men previously. We were friends. We got close. We spent every waking moment that we could together. That’s normal when you’re besties, right? How oblivious could I be? She was crushing on me hard and I had NO idea. On one fateful night, we kissed (let’s be real, she basically breathed on me). I lost my cool, listened to “Under Control” by Parachute for days on repeat, prayed, and decided I wanted to see where this led. Our wonderful friends (straight, gay, Christian, and non-Christian alike) and her sisters were very supportive of this decision. Mind you, this is NOT what I was instructed to do in the Southern Baptist family in which I grew up.
A few days went by and I decided to tell my brother over some chips and queso (aka liquid courage). His response: “I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it’s right, but I can see why you’re attracted to her. I just don’t want to see it.” Little did I know this would be the closest I would get to a positive response from my family. My mom was the next to find out. She wanted me to move home immediately, drop all of my friends, and start over. (Obviously, I did not choose that route or I would not be sitting here writing this article.) During the two years since that chat I have had numerous conversations with my family where I have discussed, defended, and dissected my relationship. I’ve talked with accountability partners, friends, teammates, church members, and family about why I’m in this and why I’m not walking away from this terrible, awful, no good, very bad thing. (“You’re happy? That’s the worst.”) I’ve read books, blogs, and the Bible. I’ve watched numerous YouTube videos, listened to sermons, and have gone to church-related events. I have openly wept in an Applebee’s, my parents’ living room, my house, small group meetings, mom’s office, and probably several other awkward public places that I’m forgetting because I have decided I am not terrified. We love one another and believe that what we have is worth the fight.
Sure, she’s agnostic… but she’s more supportive of my relationship with Christ and my church family than any Christian man I’ve dated. Sure, she’s got a vagina… but I’ve never been more comfortable or attracted to another person. Sure, we can’t make babies on our own… but this isn’t the Stone Age so we can still have a family of our own one day. She supports my goals, career, faith, friendships, aspirations, crazy schedule, and travel bug. Since when is that a problem? Never? Oh, cool.
I’ve decided that I think my family chooses to use the word terrified for the following reasons:
- They don’t want people at their church or in our lives to think they were bad or ineffective parents because of their daughter’s “choice of lifestyle.”
Oh my God, Karen! You can’t just ask people why they’re gay!
- I might go to hell for my sin.
But the last time I checked, God won’t walk away from me and I haven’t walked away from Him and NOTHING can separate me from the love of God… so there’s that little nugget of awesomeness.
- Our very contagious gay sparkle dust might infect future generations.
My favorite hobbies include staring at jumping spiders while sitting completely still to see how many will land on me before I freak out, getting sunburns, and making out in front of small children at Chick-fil-a’s play place… Wait, what? No, those are all lies.
- They don’t know how to interact with someone who is… DIFFERENT. (Cue collective gasp)
Newsflash: I’m still the same daughter and sister that I’ve been my whole life. I’m just in a happy, committed relationship. Sorry, I’m not sorry. Here’s a bold idea: Branch out! You shouldn’t only interact with white, conservative Baptists. There’s a whole world out there filled with great people and great opportunities!
- The idea of women dating other women is disgusting and they’d rather not think about it.
Eww, cooties! Circle, circle, dot, dot… So we’re covered now, right?
It’s been two years and we are making very slow progress. Like a sloth in molasses progress. But, the point is that I have to hold on to the belief that one day my family will accept my decision and my partner. It may seem pessimistic, but I don’t hope for a family that is all in and shows up to marriage equality rallies and pride parades. I just want them to love me, to love her, and to love us. That would be enough.