Okay, so this has been a long series, I know. At last, here is my final installment, part five, of my soapbox about the hot issues surrounding LGBTQ NB/GF individuals and their families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and naysayers.
I appreciate my editor, Nathan Alan Schwartz, for giving me room on this platform to expound on this topic. His support has been without question from the start. From my first column with Five 2 One Magazine on June 11, 2016, titled, “I Am the Proud Mom of Two Transgender Kids,” Nathan has given me room to vent, breathe, throw fire, reflect—and in the process—heal, while delivering some of my thoughts and experiences via his magazine.
This has been an extraordinary gift.
As I close with this topic, I want to reflect on some of what was written before in this series and also in my first piece with F2O.
First of all, I do indeed have two children who were born to me as girls, and who are now living as men. My oldest son, Zachary, was called Mandi. He transitioned when he was in his early 20’s. My youngest son, Noah, was called Sandy. He transitioned earlier—as a teen, and before graduating high school. If you haven’t read that column piece, I recommend it. Go back and read how I handled these situations, as a mother, and how I’ve applied my lessons along the way. Then, read the first four installments of this series, BTLOS column pieces #’s 33-36.
If after reading these pieces you still do not understand or at least have some compassion for people of the LGBTQ NB/GF community and their families—give it time. Someone, at some point in your life, whom you love without question, will be close to this matter and your perspective will change. If not, it is indeed your loss.
What is vital to the overall acceptance and respect for people who are different from us is that we don’t require them to be like us. At all. In any capacity, whatsoever. Unfortunately, this is a condition many of us hold over others in just about any kind of relationship.
We hear about it all the time:
“My wife divorced me because I disagreed with her religious viewpoints.”
“My partner left me after she tried to change me from a sloppy procrastinator into an organized neat-freak, and failed.”
“My husband felt I should be okay with him having sex with other women. When I protested, he felt I was being clingy and jealous.”
“My boyfriend expected me to stay home and take care of the house. He said he wanted a woman to take care of him and his kids. I wanted to work. We just couldn’t see eye-to-eye.”
“She couldn’t stand my friends and us going out every weekend. She seemed okay with it when we were dating. I don’t know what the hell her problem is.”
“He said I needed to lose weight. Having the children made me less attractive to him, and my body wasn’t perfect anymore.”
“She said I should get a ‘real job’ and be more ‘normal.’”
“He said I couldn’t write about his family. When I asked him where, as his wife, I stood as family to him, his response was, ‘Blood is family.’”
“Mom was there, but only when I could do something for her, too.”
“Dad never showed up to my games. He said I shouldn’t be wasting my time on playing around when I have to think about my future.”
“Of course, I love my (mom, sister, brother, son, daughter, spouse), but they need to ‘act right’ and stop embarrassing me.”
I’m sure some or all of these may resonate with many of you. I know they do with me. How many times have I felt that if only I were different than I am, I would be loved and accepted?
Life is not fair. We don’t get to make the rules, and we don’t get to make them up and alter them to fit our singular expression or perception of the world whenever we feel like it.
Each of us is different. We may be fortunate enough to meet some souls along the way who are part of our “tribe” or “circle,” who get us and what we are all about. Those people are the gifts we receive along the way to deal with the others—the ones who would fight us at every turn to be someone other than ourselves.
So, with all of that said, and life being a bitch sometimes, we must understand that to love another human being is to stand back and give them room to breathe and be who they are, not some manifestation of our expectations of who they should be.
Ah, but here’s the rub. In order for any kind of relationship to work, there must be reciprocity.
I love and accept you…you love and accept me. Simple, right?
Not always, but it’s worth a shot when the reward is immeasurable love and loyalty.
When it comes to loving our LGBTQ NB/GF friends and family, we must look beyond our preconceived notions of who and what they should be, our individual beliefs, and see the person within. That’s who we fight for. That’s who we love.
Furthermore, LOVE IS A VERB. We must act for them, too, and put our love into a moveable force of change.
As a mother, this is easier for me, perhaps, than someone who has no such vested interest in seeing that LGBTQ rights are enforced and respected. However, our goals as human beings in this society must be to ensure that EVERY person has equal access to all opportunities, and this includes marriage, adopting and bearing children, healthcare, and other such benefits that most people take for granted because they are heterosexual.
Anyone who is on the margins of this society, especially in this great country of ours in the USA, should have a voice. Whether it’s one we engender for them to use themselves, or we join in and raise our own to their cause, such an act is necessary to affect any meaningful change for people who are denied basic human rights, who are, in fact, discriminated against daily for being different.
Should there be any takeaway from this column series, I hope it is the realization that all of us need to work on loving others unconditionally. Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, or Atheist—has nothing to do with it. Loving others is a human ability, and we should us it to our fullest capacity. Loving others means we accept them, flaws and all, and we support them in their dreams and endeavors. Loving them means we may disagree with them, but we respect them. Loving them means our support and help may not be the most convenient for us, but it’s what we do for them when they need it most.
Irving D. Yalom wrote in his book, Love’s Executioner (1989), “It’s the relationship that heals.”
Relationships inherently possess tremendous power to tear other people down, I realize.
However, I submit they also have the capacity to build and strengthen others to levels never before imagined.
When we become the light bearers, the givers, and the bringers of unconditional love—we have the power to transform the most broken of souls and shattered hearts into whole, healing, and contributing members of our world.
Why not do this for any and all—anyone who loves in a different way than us, who simply longs for that feeling of connection with another human being as they make their life journey?
Kim D. Bailey, a 2016 Pushcart Prize Nominee, writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, a weekly column, and occasional Litstyle reviews for Five 2 One Magazine. Kim is Poetry Editor for Firefly Magazine, and she assists with other journals as needed. She is currently editing a third novel and does freelance editorial work. She’s published in several online literary journals and print magazines, as well as featured in The 52 Men Podcast hosted by Louise Wareham Leonard. Kim lives in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. To connect, follow her at www.kimbaileydeal.net and on Twitter @kimbaileydeal