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Health, News, Social Justice stories, Uncategorized

Tale of two daughters: My melancholy

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I have two daughters.

Both of them are absolutely beautiful by all the standards set by our culture.

One of them is a brunette who has always loved to “do hair.” She has experimented and played with her hair for years. I remember the first time she wanted to change her hairstyle and I asked her why. “Because I like to express myself with my hair, mama,” she said.

And so, she did. Today, she a little over shoulder-length brunette hair with soft curls that are natural, from my mother’s side of the family — Dutch.

My other daughter, is a bit of a dirty blond one might say, depending upon how much sun bleaches it. It’s fallen far down her back most times, or wrapped in a “sock bun” others.

One of my daughters loves sports, soccer and cross-country and has been a starter for years. Playing goal-keeper, she comes home with scrapes and bruises and dirt all over her practice clothes daily. “Practice was great,” she’ll boast. It seems the dirtier she is, the better it was.

She is also the daughter who loved playing in the rain, making mud pies and would accompany me on many a hiking trek through state parks as a kid.

The other daughter was a master campfire builder as young as 10 years old, always helping with anything I needed when the family took off on a camping trip. Incredibly responsible. As a freshman, she volunteered teaching at a community college summer program for young children.

When high school came, she made straight As, dual-enrolled as a medical patient care tech and received a scholarship to University of Central Florida. She already had a job as a desk receptionist and now works the front desk at a major hotel chain for business travelers. She’s been promoted twice in less than year and still is working on her degree, opting out of medicine and into the business arena. She’s training for her first 5K now.

Skirts and makeup are part of her routine daily attire.

The other daughter loves shopping, buying dresses, going to the gym, doing her nails, playing with her hair, pretty much all the same things the other daughter loves. In fact, they spend as much time as they can doing those very things together. The girls are very close.

She too, makes straight-As and is planning a dual-enrollment at college/high school.

Standing them side-by-side, there is little noticeable difference.

But, there IS one difference.

One daughter is gay; One is straight.

I would dare someone to pick out the gay one from the straight one standing them side-by-side or from their interests or mannerisms. There are no differences.

Hint: The athletic, soccer-diving one is straight.

The older daughter has been in a relationship with another lovely young woman for quite a long time. They met in med tech school. Her girlfriend is charming and funny and makes Magic at Disney.

All that said, this is why I get a bit sad when I hear people talking about wedding planning; or about their weddings; or about their honeymoons; or about their wedding dresses; or about their rings; or the millions of times I have listened over-and-over to this milestone moment in a woman’s life be told and re-told by people over and over and over.

Do not get me wrong: I am certainly happy for people. I love love. I really do. I find being in love to the most fabulous of things. I am a dreadful romantic. I am more in love now than I have ever been in my life. I am hopeless head-over-heels with my wife.

We traveled to New York State to get married when our home state of Florida would not recognize our relationship legally. It was beautiful. All our children — five of them — were present. Our vows were carefully written and included verses very special to us from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet “On Love.” “When love beckons to you, follow him….” My wife had read On Love to me at one of our very first dates, and I closed my eyes and literally prayed aloud to God, “Thank You.” I knew this woman was my soul mate. And she is.

So yes, I am a hopeless romantic.

But it isn’t for ME that I am concerned or melancholy for. It is my daughters.

I feel they are growing up still in a world where one of them will go to their job and say, “I’m getting married!” And everyone will coo, and ooo, and ahh and want to hear all about the dress and the place and the food, and the minister, and the bridesmaid dresses and the tuxes and the groomsmen and the bachelor party and the bachelorette party and the shoes and the honeymoon locale and every minute detail for months and months before the actual event as if this is the grandest occasion of all and another daughter may have the experience of going to work and saying, “I’m getting married!” and people at work going, “Oh wow! That’s great! So happy for you.” Back to the bookkeeping……..And that be that. Back to the bookkeeping. I really have yet to see a gay couple’s wedding treated with anything near the interest.

Oh sure, gay folks will toss a wedding here and there, but I am talking about the actual interest of our culture. Our legal fight has been won, but with culture people still are not accustomed to this, or accustomed to seeing us. We still have cake shops refusing us; county clerks standing in our way and churches preaching against us. It’s a culture of confused people.

The idea of straight people having nearly no thought to certain mundane things in their lives that gay people most certainly think of has a name.

Researchers, and yes, there are researchers who study such things, call this the “heterosexual privilege.”  The hetero privilege is not ever having to “think or confront or engage” issues with things so simple as showing affection (something as simple as holding hands) to the person you love in public; talking about your relationship, your vacations; putting your same-sex family portrait on your desk; receiving validation from  your friends, family, neighbors, church community or just living openly without fear of being ostracized by neighbors, family or friends. I actually lived this before I got divorced.

I never thought twice about holding my ex-husband’s hand in public; nor did anyone do a double-take. Both have happened many times since I have been in relationships with women, for instance. You don’t even know about the hetero privilege until you don’t have it. I have always vowed to live publicly exactly the same with my same-sex partners (I have been in two relationships with women) as I did with my opposite-sex partner. No more public affection; no less public affection. No more information to others; no less information to others. Which means I hold hands; I peck on the cheek; I talk openly about my wife. And I get double-takes and I often get silence instead of questions about my life. I’m used to it after this many years.

But it makes me sad for my one daughter.

I want her to experience the same exact things as her straight sister.  I want the world to celebrate her and her joys just the same; her life’s milestones; her marriage; when a child comes into her life; when she takes an awesome vacation; when her girlfriend does something cool. I want the world to take the same exact notice and interest. I want the two of them treated exactly the same. I know they will be in our home, but I want the world to do the same. She deserves the same dignity.

And I fear that too often we are still being pandered to with pleasantries and not true sincerity. I realize that’s better than discrimination, but it will be great when the “Oh, that’s great,” can be followed with the same gushing that goes to the straight counterpart.

I know that as far as our home, both girls and their respective mates in life, will always be treated with the same dignity, the same celebrations, the same joyous open arms. I can’t wait for culture to catch up to our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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