June 26, 2015 was a tremendous day. I finally had enough money to secure car insurance (no small feat when you have been uninsured for 5 months), renew my driver’s license, and my car’s registration. My income had been reduced since the Spring college term ended, and I knew money would be tight. A series of errors in my payroll check for my summer gig at another community college made it even tighter. I knew I was going to have trouble paying. I knew I had to ask for help.
A week or more prior, I woke up one morning and put on my glasses. Unfortunately, they snapped and the left lens came flying on the floor. My father witnessed the aftermath and offered to buy me new glasses on the spot for my birthday. It was generous and was offered without the type of grumbling I am accustomed to dealing with in such matters. As the date of my birthday continued to draw near, and I continued to deal with payroll issues, I realized that I would not be able to pay the Secretary of State.
The boys suggested that I skip the glasses, wear contacts, and ask my father to spend the money on car insurance. It was logical. It was practical. I had an appointment at the optical department at Walmart the next day. All I had to do was tell my Dad and cancel it. When I woke up the next morning, I tried to build the courage to have that conversation for an hour and just couldn’t. I went to the appointment with my father and got glasses.
I felt horrible that I couldn’t do it. I was embarrassed and afraid. Eventually, through conversations with my sister and the boys, I realized that I had to come clean to my father. We had a brief private conversation where I told him that I didn’t want him to perceive that I was just trying to mooch off of him. I felt horrible about asking him for anything, inconveniencing him, but I needed help. Being honest and vulnerable was the only way I was going to get the help I needed. With minimal grumbling, my father helped out with funds.
So, I was sitting at the Secretary of State when the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was announced. I knew it was coming, but was surprised to see that it actually happened. It was hard to maintain my composure. With so many people around me, did they know? No one talked about it out loud, but I furiously surfed Facebook and news websites for the details. I was so consumed that the hour and a half wait seemed to take only 5 minutes.
I went to hang out with the boys for the day. We were going to celebrate my birthday. I could tell that they were a little off. We didn’t talk about it for a few hours. When it was addressed, it was related to posting a line of the doxology in a comment to my former pastor’s post embracing the same sex marriage ruling. The boys thought it was inauthentic of me to post, “Glory be to God from whom all blessing flow,” because my current religious positioning was less than traditional doctrine. I told them that I thought it was appropriate because it was a very Presbyterian thing to do in response to a big decision, the election or church leaders, offering, etc.
What this started was a catalyst to talk about needing to be open. I have a side of me that was raised Presbyterian. I have a side of me that sees my home church as a second family, but I rarely have talked about this with them. It is like I categorized things in my head, and if I wasn’t in that section…I don’t normally share it. It is not intentional omission. It does sort of feed the concept of being different things to different people. That is where the struggle is real. You build relationships with people at work, at church, at the bar…..but what happens when those people come together? Who knows the real you? I know it is possible to be authentic all the time, but I hadn’t lived my life that way until recently.
The boys also seem to point out that I was more excited by the day’s ruling than they were. I was flying the pride flag, but I didn’t mention that I was also part of the LGTB community. I had thought about posting something earlier in the day, but waited until we would be together to do it. I had even done a draft of what it would be. We shaped the final draft together, talked about the pros and cons to posting it, and eventually I cut and pasted it into a status update. It was the moment that I had fully come out as a lesbian on Facebook.
We went swimming for an hour. We found a way to toss each other up and out of the water several times, sending massive amounts of water out of the pool. It felt great. It felt like a celebration. I felt weightless for a moment in time. When we came back, several people had liked the post and some left sweet comments. I felt a ton of love.
The love continued over the weekend. Several people sent me lovely birthday messages, my father said he was proud of me and loved me, and I even got to go to my favorite pizza pub and eat my cake too. It was a great birthday weekend.
On Monday, I felt like I was riding the wave until the boys shared with me that Max’s sister’s fiancé had posted some anti-gay stuff on his Facebook page. He even added an American flag filter to counter the pride flag filters that people were adding to their profile pictures. Knowing that Max’s sister had talked to Max on the Friday of the Supreme Court ruling, asking if Alex and Max wanted to get married with them on the same day the following week, at the same ceremony, because now they could, they felt compelled to bring it up to her. She immediately said that she couldn’t take sides, brought up a stupid free speech argument, and ignored any discussion with her brother, even though he was hurt. She did have her fiancé take down the post, but he just replaced it with a picture of a flag transposed over a wave at the beach scene. Whatever.
It would have been left there, but the next day she decided to post an article on “Jesus’s Response to the Gays” with a comment that thanked her fiancé for showing her the “real truth.” In the article, it clearly stated that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Alex was compelled to respond, asking if she really thought that his relationship with her brother for the last 14 years was sinful and what was he supposed to do as a gay man in the situation. I took another tactic. I told her that before she decides to start pointing out the sins in others, she might want to look in the mirror. Last time I checked, she had a long laundry list of her own sins that would keep her busy. I also made mention that her value system seem to shift as often as the weather. She was neither better nor worse than anyone else.
Max’s sister replied to the comments from Alex and me. She mentioned that she had only posted the article and wasn’t pointing fingers at anyone. That provoked another response from Alex and I. Alex offered nothing but love and I offered her a “bullshit.” Later that day, a call between her and the boys confirmed that she did think they were sinners and that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She played the victim. Why couldn’t she exercise her right to free speech? Why couldn’t they come to her church and confess their sins? Why were they always trying to put her on the spot and cause drama?
The boys tried to calmly explain that she was the one posting this stuff. Shouldn’t they have a right to tell her, as her brothers, that it was hurting them? Other people read this stuff, and it didn’t reflect well on her. When confronted, all she could spew was her recently acquired opinions that she had been taught or nothing at all. She couldn’t take responsibility for her words or her actions.
While the boys were going back and forth with Max’s sister, I was burning a little. I was glad that I had a chance to voice my opinion to her but it didn’t feel right. Max and Alex deserved better. They have always been “out.” Max’s sister knew this about him. For years, she had been vocal about supporting him. She would share that her brother was gay and that others should be tolerant. Now, all of a sudden, she was singing a different tune.
I contacted some friends privately on Facebook, and asked them to send Alex and Max a love note. They did, and I think it did touch them. I was often included in them, and was really moved by the love and support. I tried to take a nap to forget about it. I tried to get lost in an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance,” but the momentary relief was replaced by a nagging feeling once I left my mind unoccupied.
I texted the boys to see if there was anything else going on. Apparently, she blocked them from her Facebook. She also defriended me. The boys seemed okay. In a way, it gave Alex fuel to proceed with his drag queen career. If he feared that others would throw similar fits, and this was what it was like, than proceed ahead because he knew he could handle any bully. It feels better to live an authentic life instead of caring how others perceived you.
There was a question of whether or not we would attend the wedding. After the initial confrontation, the boys felt like they were going to go so she couldn’t throw it in their faces latter. Now, I am not so sure where they stood. Why would you want to go when she has gone out of her way to make you miserable? For someone who repeatedly plays old tape about how the men in her life keep abandoning her, she really tries to throw a fantastic fit so life follows suit. Why wouldn’t she vow that love is conditional? In order to be worthy of love, you had to fit all the conditions in her world. That is all the love she feels she deserves. Needless to say, we ended up not going.
I thanked the boys for handling the situation with such dignity and class. They confronted her with love, even though she couldn’t handle it. Instead of getting swept up in hurt and disgust, they made peace with the situation and forgave her, knowing that she was fighting her own demons. Less than a week ago, I feared that I might have gotten such a response. Seeing them actually get one, made me feel that I could handle it too, so I need not be afraid. I blocked Max’s sister so I never had to see her words again.
I woke up today hoping that I had finally shaken the bad vibes off. For the most part, I had. What was odd was that she hadn’t deleted my sister as a Facebook “friend.” My sister noticed some alarming things on her news feed. I told her to not show me, but I couldn’t resist. There were six stupid posts inferring that we were “intolerant,” “assholes,” and “judgmental.” I told my sister that she was never to tell me about any of her posts again. I went to my room to get ready for work. When I came out, my sister told me that she had posted some things on her news feed, mostly clips about how the Bible shouldn’t be used to beat people with and that the most important commandment was to love your neighbor. I smiled. It was sweet. My younger sister, one of the most devout people I know, was defending her lesbian sister and her gay sudo brothers. It goes to show that there is more love out there than hate, and siblings can get along….even on Facebook.