Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This means that most of us will be returning home to see family that we only see specifically during this time of the year. For me, this year is different because I am bringing someone with me.
I actually introduced my girlfriend, Chelsea, to various family members over the past 2 months and it all went surprisingly well.
In my last session, I spoke with my therapist about the holiday season and my own expectations regarding family and my obviously gay relationship. He told me to have minimal to no expectations and to be open-minded. At first, I reacted with, “WhAt?! You want ME to be open-minded??”
Buuuuut, then I realized that he was right. I was already anticipating the homophobic comments, questions, and uncomfortable stares months before actually being around family. I was making assumptions. I was judging. If I were to enter their homes with this attitude, it was going to be obvious and rub off on them.
In order for this to be natural and comfortable, I needed to let go of anything I thought before. I needed to act natural and comfortable myself. There is nothing weird or abnormal about my relationship and the more normal I act, the more normal it will be to family.
I’ve worked so hard to be 100% myself. I feel like I’ve only fully achieved that in 2019. I am ready to just have fun and enjoy this holiday season.
I have 6 grandparents. 5 are still alive. I am related by blood to 3 of them. I’ve never actually met my mother’s biological father. He left when she was a baby and her mother remarried a wonderful man. I know that my mom’s bio dad was a dick for leaving, but I still wonder what he looks like and what he’s like.
My dad’s dad’s dad (my great-grandfather), I’m told, was somewhat of an ass. He wasn’t always very nice. His name is Frank. I’ve seen pictures of him and I can’t help but wonder if I would’ve liked talking to him.
I vaguely remember my mom’s mom’s parents. They died when I was in elementary school. My great-grandfather’s name was Adolf. When he died and we went through his stuff, we discovered that he had a VERY extensive menu collection. His eyes were blue. He had a mustache. I remember liking him.
The first (and only) grandparent that I have lost died on January 9, 2018. He was my Grandpa Wayne. He was well over 6 feet and his head was very large.
He died because he contracted pneumonia after going through extensive chemo treatments. Unfortunately, I was in Germany when he died, so I was unable to say goodbye and attend the service or the burial. I’ve actually never been to his grave and that is because I’m not sure that I’m ready.
There are many things that I would’ve liked to ask him, so I try to make a point of seeing and talking with the grandparents that are still alive. My Grandpa Wayne was a no bullshit kind of man. He always told me to eat protein and to cut my hair (he hated long hair). He was a rock for my Grandma and I can see that things have been very difficult for her since his passing.
To wrap this post up, I miss family that I never met. I miss family I didn’t know very long or very well. I miss family that I’ve lost. Grief and sadness are difficult emotions for me, so I never quite know how to process these thoughts, but I acknowledge their existences.
When I was younger, my mother and sister and I would fly to Germany once per year, during the summer, to visit our grandmother. We stayed at her house for an entire month. We went swimming, hiking, traveling, and also did very normal everyday things like grocery shopping, visiting the city, and hanging out with our friends there.
As an adult, when I look up at the sky and see an airplane, I feel this pain in my chest, a type of longing, even. I wish I was on that plane going wherever it was going. I think I associate airplanes with the extremely happy memories that I have from going to Germany for all those years.
We stopped going as a family because we got older and had school obligations as well as jobs. My mother’s job also won’t let her take a lot of vacation. We mostly go separately now. My sister went while I was in high school for a few months. I studied there for 6 months my sophomore year of college. My mother goes when she can, but it’s not often or for very long.
My grandmother used to fly to us when we had a break in school, but there’s not much incentive to fly here now since we all have jobs and limited time. It makes me sad, but I still hold on very dearly to all of those years we spent over there.
I don’t know if this post is going to come out making sense. I will do my best, but this could be a doozy.
Some people only fall in love with, date, and marry one person. Other people go through the same process with 20 different people. I haven’t met anyone who’s been married 20 times, but I’ve heard of 5-7 times, so that’s still a jump.
Many married people I know today (both old and young) got married in their mid to late 20s. I am approaching my mid 20s. This post is not about me feeling pressure to get married- that pressure isn’t there for me. What I am getting at is the thought that maybe I’ve met a person who I could be happy with for a long time.
I’ve been on a few dates that never went further than that first meeting. I’ve dated someone short term. I’ve dated several people long term (for me, this range is 8 months to 2 years). I’ve dated someone who was not very kind to me. I’ve dated people and imagined married life with them. There was one person who I considered to be someone I would have children with if we got there. My point is that I have experience. I have experienced enough variety of personality. I know what I want at this point. I also know what I don’t want.
The person I just started seeing 3 weeks ago is many of the things I want in a person. Obviously, there are no perfect people and she is not perfect, but there are so many seemingly great things about her, my body and mind are on edge because “what’s the catch?”
So, like I mentioned before, there are so many people who are married or at least dating the person they’re going to marry by the time they are my age or by the time they’ve experienced what I have. I’ve dated enough for my liking. I would like to just not anymore. The thought in my mind is “could this be it?”
Don’t panic, now, because marriage is something I don’t want for another 8ish years. I just wonder if she could be someone I want to travel with, someone to introduce to my family and friends, someone I want to come home to after work, etc.
Contemplate these things with me. Let’s overanalyze together. Let’s think about all the confusing things in life. I hope you all got through this one alright.
I’m currently sitting in a squishy chair on the back wall of a Starbucks in Atlanta, GA. Across the room is what seems to be a mother and her child. The mom looks to be in her late 20s and her daughter can’t be older than 8.
Mom is wearing a light grey maxi dress and her hair is long and shiny. Her daughter is wearing a pink camo romper and a cat ear headband. They’re both sipping drinks. Mom is working on her computer and daughter is putting together what looks to be a puzzle.
An upbeat song comes on and the daughter begins dancing in her seat. Mom looks up, smiles, and joins her in her dancing.
Before you call me a complete creep, let me explain why I felt the need to write about this:
There is a very specific list of things that make me cry. Seemingly loving and healthy family relationships are one of them.
I’m not hinting that I had an undesirable childhood. My mom may not have danced in Starbucks with me, but we did many other lovely things together. My dad and I also didn’t have a difficult time when I was younger. I enjoyed most of childhood very much. However, I know so many people who’s childhoods were so fucked up and when I see people so simply involved with their children, it makes me so happy.
I know that oxytocin is a big part of my feelings and thoughts right now, but I can’t ignore them regardless. I have to keep repeating the fact that I have only known her for 3 weeks because it feels like so much longer. The way I act around her is SO different from the way I acted around previous partners, but it’s almost exactly how I act when no one else is there. There’s no “act”. It’s a little overwhelming.
I had a little bit of a “freak out” yesterday after she left. It concerned my life’s purpose, family relationships, and just general anxiety about work and school. However, it also involved my current [very strong] feelings and emotions towards this new human in my life. My friend suggested I hold off on introducing her to more friends or family so that their opinions and thoughts (even if they’re positive) wouldn’t interfere with my own “getting to know her” time. I think that’s a good idea.
I’m not quick to refer to people as my romantic partner or share that with everyone in my life, but I do disclose when I’m seeing/getting to know someone new rather quickly. I don’t do this because I want to, but it either comes up in conversation or I start putting my time towards the new person and away from my previous “plans” or “normal schedule” and then people start asking questions.
I have a fear of failure. I have a fear of failing those I care about. I have a fear of failing to be what they want me to be. I have a fear of failing to live the life that I have envisioned for myself. I have a fear of failing to live up to the good things people have said about me.
I fear that I am failing my [very conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-Trump, Christian] grandparents and hometown community by not dating men and attending church.
I have a fear that my dad fears he has failed as a father by not bringing my sister and I to church more often. When I first came out, he asked me if it was something he did to make me feel this way.
I have these fears. They get a little a crazy sometimes. I know that I can’t just flip a switch and become a heterosexual Christian. I suppose that I try to make up for these “flaws” by making the rest of my life look as proper and perfect as possible.
I want the people (my family) who disagree with my “lifestyle” or lack of Christian beliefs to see that I’m not a bad or immoral person. I try very hard to live a moral life and to be kind and helpful to those around me. I’m trying to show them that I don’t live my life for attention. I don’t live my life to convert other people. I don’t live my life to brag about it and rub it in people’s faces.
I just want to live my life. I want to have normal conversations about things I’m passionate about. I want to visit family with my future partner and I want them to ask us when we’re getting married.
So I have a fear of failure. I have a fear of failing to be a person that does not and cannot exist. It’s been mentioned before and it will be mentioned again, I promise.
I had my first “Aha!” moment when I was in 6th grade. At that time, I didn’t even know what “gay” was.
The story goes like this: I was playing soccer with my team and an older girl named Caitlin was playing with us. She was from a more experienced team called Lightening and she had played with us many times before. This time, however, I found her in my vicinity more than usual and as she ran past me, I stopped in my tracks. I stopped running, I forgot the ball, I was just standing there like an idiot.
It was her smell. She smelled like flowers and it was intoxicating. I had NO IDEA what the fuck was happening, but I got it together and continued to play the game.
I told my mom about it immediately and she said to worry about those feelings when I was a little older and not to stress about it now.
I didn’t seriously evaluate what I felt that day until about 4 years later when I fell in love for the first time. It was incredible.
This post is about my internalized homophobia, though. So, let’s jump in. Between 6th and 10th grade, I learned more about what some of my family and community and a great deal of society thought about those who experienced same sex attraction. I learned more about God and his apparent disapproval of the same behavior. I learned more about sexism and double standards.
I learned that gay was not good.
Fast forward 2 serious relationships with other females plus a 3 month adventure with another girl. I was now 19. I found myself in a position to explore a relationship with a man. I took it.
I dated him for 8 months. I put everything into the relationship, but to no use. I was gay.
I have wished for my “gayness” to disappear before. I remember feelings of disappointment and irritation for not being a good person. Because gay people aren’t right. There’s something wrong.
I remember feeling angry and confused when people said that I was choosing this “lifestyle”. I still get so angry when I’m told it’s a choice. Who in their right fucking mind would choose to be looked at so disgustingly?
I feel like to my more conservative family members, they see me and think, “if only she would date men, she would be the perfect person, granddaughter, daughter, etc.” I’ve always done well in school. I don’t enjoy drugs and I don’t drink often either. I visit my relatives, I volunteer, I’m always employed, I have friends. I even went to church on my own accord for a few years and even now, even though I am not religious anymore, I have no problem going to church with family if they want me to join them.
But I’m gay.
I’m almost the perfect package. I’m almost the perfect granddaughter. Almost. There’s just that one little flaw. “If only she’d just come to her senses, accept the Lord, and realize that it’s unnatural to date the same sex. It’s disgusting. It’s not right. It’s not Christian. It’s not decent.”
“You turned my daughter gay”
“She wasn’t like this before you”
“You took advantage of her good nature”
“You’re too young to know this is who you are”
“You can be gay, you just shouldn’t act on your desires”
“I understand that you’re gay, but I don’t want to see it”
“It’s okay to be gay, just don’t wave it in my face”
“It’s only okay for women to be gay, but two dudes is fucking nasty”
After being told these things, it should come as no surprise that I found myself absolutely hating my sexuality. Everyone around me, it seemed, was telling me how wrong it was and how I shouldn’t act on it, especially not in public.
The worst types of homophobia are the indirect moments of it. For example, 99% of my family NEVER asks me about who I’m seeing or if I’m interested in anyone. When I was presumed to be straight, there would always be questions about the current boy I was interested in.
I also recently went through a breakup. It sucked. The woman I was dating is an amazing person and our reasons for breaking up were primarily distance and conflicts in our future desires (children, mainly). There is no bad blood between us, so I had nothing to be angry at. I was just sad. My family knew that I had been seeing her. They even met her. When I returned back home without her or mention of her, there were no questions. There were no “how are you dealing with this” or “are you okay” questions. I was disappointed because I thought some of my family was more okay with my “lifestyle”, but apparently not interested enough in it to ask how I was handling something very emotional.
In the past 2 years, I have learned to truly love my sexuality and the community it allows me to have. Being around other people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum makes me feel most loved and safe. I don’t have to act straight or omit information when telling a story or talking about my hopes and dreams. I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions and I’m not gawked at when out with a partner. I am so thankful for that community.
It’s a daily obstacle to assure myself that I’m enough exactly how I am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t have to change myself to make others more comfortable in their ignorance.
I’m learning to live my life with pride in myself and I hope you do, too.