Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

Only My Mom: Talking about Guys

I spent Easter Sunday with my mom. In between bites of delicious Indian food, I told her,  “I kind of went on a date with a guy.”

My mom, being the brilliant woman that she is, responded, “Kind of a date or kind of a guy?”

Now, in many cases this would be offensive. In this case, it was simply hilarious.

I burst into laughter. “Both,” I said.

And that is how I told my mom that the person I am “hanging out with” is transgendered.

She took it well, as I assumed she would.

Now, I was terrified to come out to her as a teenager. I knew I’d dash her hopes and dreams of a white wedding gown. I knew she’d never let me spend the night with a girlfriend again. When it came down to it, she was the one who asked me the question, “Do you like girls?”

For the last five years, my mom has embraced my lesbianism. She hasn’t said a word when women spent the night or (better yet) stayed til 5 am and then disappeared. She’s invited girlfriends to birthday dinners, Christmas celebrations, Passover Seders, Thanksgiving meals, and family vacations.

After this new piece of information, she asked the logical questions: Has he had any surgery? How does the transition process work? What do you mean by T?

I explained to her how far along he is in the transition process. I explained how I feel like I’m having to learn a new language. Even though he has a largely female body, I’m learning to flirt and interact with a male.

Mom asked, “So how does this work if you are a lesbian?” It’s always fun to talk semantics with family members, as some of you can surely understand. Without going into excruciating detail, I explained to her that lesbian is a convenient and easy to understand term. People know what it means, and since all of my relationships until now have been with women, it worked well enough. I also explained to her that I understand sex, gender, and sexual orientation to have degrees of fluidity. It’s more about the person that anything else, although I certainly have preferences, and those preferences are subject to change. I also reassured her that biological penises still freak me out.

While I know my mom has always harbored a faint hope that this was all “just a phase,” I think she realizes it’s more than that.

She shared a surprising memory with me. Apparently, as a kid, I’d say things like, “I don’t know who I’ll end up with one day. It will just depend on the person.” My mom chuckled, “I guess nothing you say should surprise me anymore. You’ve been giving me hints since you were a kid.”

As much as my life is changing right now, I am one lucky woman with an amazing set of parents.

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Measure a Life in Love

On Friday, I attended the memorial service for Grandma C. We drove to her home town, and sat in the church she had been a member of for over seventy years.

In the post entitled In Loving Memory, I discussed how Grandma C embodied love.

Talking with my aunt at the memorial, I uncovered yet another example.

As “the ex” began continually appearing at family gatherings, my aunt got curious. She turned to my grandmother and said, “I think she’s a lesbian.”

Grandma C, in her 80-something years of wisdom and delicate Southern accent, replied simply, “I don’t care about that.”

That is Christian love.

In Loving Memory

This time a week ago, I was at the hospital, saying goodbye to Grandma C.

As you may imagine, this last week has been full of ups and downs. I’m not sure it has fully sunk it, but I’m reassured by the fact that she is no longer in pain.

Needless to say, I have been thinking about her a lot this last week. She was the most unconditionally loving person I have ever known.

Grandma C and her husband fostered many a troubled teenager, both officially and unofficially, even adopting a few. Each and everyone of those people remain a part of the family.

My father, my grandmother’s son, passed away when I was 6. A year or so later, my mom started dating my eventual step dad. My mother didn’t want Grandma C to know. She didn’t want her to think she was dishonoring her husband’s memory. One day, Grandma C, in her famous honesty, said, “You know, I know you are dating and you should go ahead and marry that man. You deserve a husband and those kids need a father.” From that day on, she loved my step dad as her son.

She loved me through each one of my teenage rebellions. Though famous for her sarcastic comments, Grandma C put up with my purple hair, goth eyeliner, homemade fashion nightmares, and fishnet phases. She loved me through it all, tolerating it far better than my mother.

I was reluctant to “come out” to Grandma C. She taught Sunday school and bible study, her bookshelves were crammed with Christian literature, she was 80-something and raised in the South. Homosexuality had to be a sin in her book. To top that off, I’d noticed a pattern of hidden racism in my grandparents. A gay granddaughter, dating a little half Mexican, half Filipino, who wore boys button-up shirts and ties- it would surely be too much!  I figured I’d just keep it vague, let her wonder. As it turns out, I didn’t have to come out.

One weekend, my girlfriend and I went to my aunt’s beach house. It was the two of us, my aunt, and my grandmother, in a beautiful three bedroom beach house. After bringing up our luggage, I went to introduce my girlfriend to my grandmother.

Grandma looked up from her Kindle. I said, “Grandma C, this is Dora. Dora, this is Grandma C.”

Nothing more, nothing less. No mention of “girlfriend” or “lover.”

Grandma C lit up, “It’s so nice to meet you,” she said. “I’m just glad someone can love my granddaughter,” she laughed, as she stood up to embrace Dora in a big bear hug.

“It’s not easy,” Dora retorted, “but I certainly try.”

So, there they were, making fun of me. That didn’t matter. What mattered was that my grandmother loved me, she loved my girlfriend, and she had it all figured out. Dora was always welcome at family dinners, holiday get-togethers, and even Grandma C’s death bed. Despite our breakup, to Grandma C, Dora was still part of the family.

A lot of people preach that Christianity is ultimately about love. Grandma C was one of the rare few who truly practiced what she preached. Though she will be sorely missed, I’m comforted by the fact that her legacy of love lives on. And I pray, in my nonreligious way, that more people will offer the world that same spirit of unconditional love.