by: Deb Kirk
About a year and a half ago I asked my daughter if she was a lesbian. She had been taking a lot of college courses on women and gender studies, feminism, and doing quite a bit of talking to me about gay and queer issues. We had hour long conversations on the difference between gender and sexuality, cis-male and female, queer and transgender individuals. She became somewhat frustrated if I used the wrong terminology. I told her to cut me some slack. When I was 20 I still wasn’t sure what homosexuality was. And queer meant one thing; strange. I’m not even kidding! I tried my best to understand and refer to people correctly. Sometimes I failed miserably, other times it was crystal clear, and sometimes I still need a refresher course. I knew that if she was this passionate about something, I wanted to understand the what’s and why’s of all of it. I just had to. Because of this and her not having a boyfriend, the next ‘illogical’ step to take was to ask the question.
“Honey, are you a lesbian?” Well the next words that fell from her mouth were actually some of the most beautiful I have ever heard. “Mom, I love who I love. Man, woman, queer. If I love them, I love them.” She went on, “I don’t see them as a gender, I see them as people, period.” My first thought was,” you lucky…um….person!” To have it all figured out so nice and neatly at 19! Shit, I’m 53 and still figuring out the stereotypical hetero married relationship….after 32 years! My next thought was: ‘Okay, cool. It’s Kate. She has her head on straight, she’s intelligent and wickedly funny, I love her, my mom will understand….OMG, and how do I tell my husband?’ Well I didn’t. Not for a few months. It wouldn’t be easy for him; he wouldn’t “get it.” But in the past we had discussed that if a child of ours was gay, we’d love them just the same. How could we not? Well, it was time to put my money where my mouth was.
I was sitting in our TV room and told him I had to talk to him about Kate. He said, “She’s gay right?” That completely blew me away! I didn’t think he knew. In fact I thought he was clueless. I never give the man enough credit. He was paying attention. Over hearing conversations or asking subtle questions. HE KNEW! And aside from the wondering if she would have felt this way if she didn’t go to a Liberal Arts college, which to her credit, Kate admitted that she did not know, his only other real concern was how this may make her life harder. Over the weeks to come he and I had our own long talks. He asked a lot of questions and challenged a lot of my answers. Sometimes it was all good, sometimes it wasn’t. I played the mediator between him and my daughter who wasn’t even there. I wanted him to understand, to love his little girl no matter what. And you know what? He does. It’s not always easy, but what, in an interesting life is?
I went to In Our Words Live last night and listened to some incredible young people tell their stories. Stories about hate and intolerance, noise and John Denver, coming “half out” for the summer as to acquire Pop Tarts, the longing for Ira Glass to be a surrogate father, and the soul bearing, nerve hitting process of transitioning. The stories were heartfelt, hysterical and heart wrenching and I loved them all. The stories sure, but also the people telling them. I understood through the words whispering in the back of my head from those long conversations with my daughter, that I too would love who I loved.
Thank you for making me a better person, Kate.
Deb Kirk is a professional career volunteer. Kirk is a movie-a-holic and make no excuses for it. She is really good at surfing the inter-webs but sucks at using phones with touchscreens. Deb is getting her degree in Women and Gender Studies via the School of Kate. Kirk is sarcastic. (No, really, she is.)