Friday, June 26, 2015

To my mother on the day love won

I often joke or tell people that I had the fortune to grow up with more than one mother - my stepmother, my parent's close women friends who were a part of my upbringing, the mothers of my own close friends. But of course, I truly have only one mother. One mother who conceived me and carried me and birthed me. One mother who I have this incredible life to thank for.

Today, more than any other day in a long while, on the day love won, words are not enough for how grateful I am to her... Her or the other millions of anonymous heroes that our president so appropriately thanked in his address earlier today.

Because of my mother, I was born into and lived a childhood in which I did not question or doubt the love between people that shared the same gender. Because of my mother, I never once felt confusion, disgust, hatred, discomfort or any other atypical reaction to a man kissing a man or a woman kissing a woman, that I would not have had to a man and woman.

Because of my mother, I had no inkling that the woman we lived with until I was in middle school - who shared a room with my mother, who loved my sister and me like her own, who celebrated special occasions sitting next to my father, who taught me to fish and make onion soup - was breaking some sort of societal norm. I knew her as my mother's best friend, someone she loved who made her happy, and someone who loved her back the way I thought my mother deserved. Because of my mother, and her love for this woman, I was lucky enough to have more than one incredible person to looks up to in my life during some of my most formative years. It took until I was in fourth grade for me to wonder even once whether it was unusual for my mother to live with another woman. And it was because of my mother, carefully wording a subtle warning when we moved to rural Georgia for just over a year, "It would be better not to tell too many people that we share a room", that I wondered and learned a little more about the world around me.

Because of my mother, I had one very big reason to break up with my first boyfriend. After spending middle school nervous that others might treat me differently if they found out my mother was a lesbian, I had decided that was no way to live my life in high school. My closest friends and family knew, and I began trusting more and more people with my mother's "secret", wanting to stand by my own unwavering inner knowledge that this was nothing to hide. I remember the first time I told new friends about my mother and how wonderful it felt to say it with pride in our family. I remember the first time I told a boy I was "dating" that my mother was a lesbian. I remember how he used this knowledge I entrusted him with when, hurt by something I said in a fight, he wanted to hurt me back. He did indeed hurt me. I never trusted him again. Because of my mother - and this boy - I learned that who I choose to love may not always respect and accept the differences in my family, and I learned that I am strong enough to walk away from those people.

Because of my mother, I have always felt loved. Truly and dearly loved. I have always known that I will always have a home, a safe haven, wherever she is. Because of my mother, I have never once doubted that a single person or a same sex couple would be able to raise a baby to become a badass human being. Just ask me about my older brother and twin sister, in my opinion two of the most awesome human beings on this planet, in large part thanks to my mother.

Because of my mother, I have never once doubted that I can love whomever I choose and that my love will be supported. I can bring home those I love to meet her and I know she will welcome them with open arms and an open heart - no matter their gender, race, or any other biological character they could not possibly have had a choice in. Even if they have chosen different beliefs politically, spiritually, or of any other kind, I know they will be respected and treated with an open mind - given that they are treating me and my family with that same respect. Because of my mother, I know what that respect looks like. Because of my mother, the world of people I can meet and care for is bigger and filled with more possibilities.

Because of my mother, I have and always will believe that there are basic civil rights that every human should have. Because of my mother, I have been motivated to talk, argue, write, and work in the ways that I can to help others understand and see this. Nothing is taken away from the majority when we strive to ensure every person is given equal opportunities, privileges and rights. Many people taught me this, but because of my mother - watching closemindedness attempt to limit her life and seeing her never letting it do so - I have a passion to help others also live a life without unnecessary and unfair limits. Because of my mother, and her own struggles and inspiring life, I am a better person.

Today, love won. Because of my mother I know what that truly means for millions of Americans - adults and children alike. Today, there are millions of heroes that deserve our gratitude for their battles, both big and small. Because of my mother, I was lucky enough to have known one my entire life.