To the Children of LGBT Parents: Marriage Equality is for Us Too.

I remember it vividly. I was 17, sitting in the computer lab of our business class, and the teacher had left the room when suddenly a student blurted out, “All gays should die.” I sat there feeling the heat begin to rise to my cheeks. Years of listening to people saying such hateful things bubbling to the surface.

What this kid didn’t know was my own mother had came out to me only a couple of months before. The wounds were fresh. My senses heightened to all of the derogatory language that surrounded me in such a small town high school. I couldn’t keep the anger in any longer. So I yelled. I yelled, “YOU have NO idea who you are talking about when you say that! NO idea who you are impacting!”

Tears began building in my eyes and I’m sure a few escaped down my cheeks. There was a stunned silence. Kaitlyn, the quiet girl, the girl who doesn’t challenge, the girl who gets along with everyone… yelled. And not just that, she spoke up for something that a majority of the people in room disagreed with. The kid stared at me. I looked back at him, my eyes daring him to say something, anything. I knew he regretted what he said, I could see it even if he couldn’t identify it. He muttered something about faggots and looked away. I went back to my work and didn’t say another word the rest of the class period.

This…. this is what I’ve had to sort through for most of my life. I have sat through whole sermons of pastors, who I deeply respect, speaking on how a family unit is incomplete without a both a father and a mother. That the children who are raised in an environment different from that are missing something important. And I, once again, am reminded that I am “different”. That my family is “different”.

And you know what? My family IS complex according to our societal norms. My dad gets along great with my mom’s partner. All of us, including both of my parents’ partners, can have dinner together and it isn’t awkward. (Waiters/waitresses often don’t know what to do with our bill) 

We certainly have our flaws (just like ANY other “normal” family), but I do consider myself blessed with the family I have and I do not wish it to be any other way. This, all of this, has shaped me into who I am today. I am me because of what we, as a family, have gone through.

Don’t get me wrong. I have experienced a lot of shame in relation to this part of my life. But slowly, I am beginning to see I am enough. That my story matters. That God loves me unconditionally along with my non-nuclear family in tow.

After the SCOTUS decision, I felt numb. I wanted to be as excited as everyone else. I even posted a facebook status saying I was experiencing “all of the feels”. And to an extent, I think I was. I just didn’t know what they were. It wasn’t until I got on Facebook this morning and saw all of the rainbows that I began to cry. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support flowing through social media out at me. Telling me: “You are loved. Your family is loved.”

Marriage equality is for us too, the kids of the LGBT parents. We get to celebrate with our parents after the pain we as a family have endured. We get to experience the joy of watching our parents marry after that extra-long engagement. We get to experience the Love that has been overflowing throughout the world.

So thank you. Thank you to everyone who has shown support to our families. Thank you to everyone who has celebrated with us.

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Healing Comes with Participation in Relationship

This is the next part of my series on my healing journey. Go here for the backdrop of the story.

A common response to depression is isolation. But when I isolate it’s not the typical recluse reaction people think of. I am very involved in my church and serve on a regular basis. I often see people almost daily. In my most recent period of isolation… I was available to my friends but I wasn’t present. I was at church but was disengaged throughout the service. I was praying, but with hollowness. People who care surrounded me, but I felt alone and empty.

For so long I felt that I needed to push down the cynical, irritable, angry, depressed, insecure part of me. The part that becomes ever-present when I’m going through an episode of depression. I thought of it as more of an annoyance. I hid it, fearful no one would understand and afraid I would hurt those I love. As I look back now I realize I feared being wholly known.

When I tried to share my depression with others, when I tried to be vulnerable, I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt ashamed for placing those emotions in others lives. Therefore I decided for my friends what part of me they wanted to see. Only sharing things that appeared to be vulnerable to others, leaving out the most vulnerable thing: my constant state of depression. Giving the false impression that I was engaging in the relationship and going deeper. Yet in reality, not being completely honest about where I was at and what was going on.

I think this is one reason why I love the movie Frozen so much. I saw it at a time when I wasn’t able to identify the emptiness I was experiencing. As I related to Elsa and reflected on the emotions I felt during the movie I began to identify what was going on.

Elsa lived in fear of the powers she had and as a result numbed and isolated from those she loved as a way to prevent them from being hurt.

These two songs provide a good backdrop for what I’m talking about.

Elsa attempts to isolate herself from her sister in order to protect her from the storm that seems to be stirring inside her. When she isolates she thinks that if she escapes she will be free from the fear of hurting others. It’s when she is alone she feels safe to let go and feel again. Seeing the beauty within her gifts and in all of who she is. When Elsa’s sister, Ana, reaches out to help, Elsa pushes her away. Fear gripping her again, the storm becomes stronger as she attempts to hold everything in. It wasn’t until she allowed those in her life to love her, as she is, that the storm began to lift. She saw her giftings as a part of her, a part that was worthy of being loved. Seeing a beauty within them.

Like Elsa, I lived in fear of what would happen if I were to share the depressed and angry side of myself with others. I feared hurting others and feared rejection. I saw my depression as a curse rather than seeing the beauty that can result from the state of vulnerability it placed me in. A place where my relationships can be strengthened and can build trust.

What I discovered was I still have a deep wound of distrust that I carry around with me. I found that in order to heal and grow, I needed to invite others into my pain. Not only my friends but my God.  I was hiding from God, ashamed and afraid of Him being disappointed in me. Disappointed that I couldn’t get my shit together and get past this eternal depression. I’ve struggled with this most of my life; I should have a handle on this by now, right?

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor has been pivotal on this journey. Her authenticity as she pours her deepest concerns and worries out to God showed me a side to relationship I hadn’t fully embraced. This book helped me to start a conversation with God that I have never felt free to have. I began opening up about how I truly feel and allowing Him to into darkest parts of my soul.

As I no longer lived in in silence, I found that I needed to accept depression as something I will always struggle with. There are going to be periods in my life when I struggle more than others. It doesn’t mean I am weak or lesser than anyone else. It does mean I have a chronic illness and like any illness it takes some time, maybe some help with medication, and self-care to feel better.

To accept a part of ourselves that tends to be misunderstood and thought to be “cured” by a few pills or “praying it away” is what I would call bravery. To share this part of our heart with others is to be courageous and vulnerable. I have discovered the people I want to share this experience with are those who have earned the right to. They have dedicated the time to our relationship and love me for all of me, not just certain parts of me. They love my imperfections because they know these imperfections have made me into the compassionate, sensitive, and caring person I am. But to discover these whole-hearted friends means I have to take a risk: a risk to be known, to love, and possibly be hurt in the end.

I have slowly come to find these friends in the most unlikely of places. They are helping me feel the love of Jesus Christ in ways I haven’t in a long time. Slowly softening my heart and helping me see the beauty in the darkness. I know this has been the answer to many of my prayers over the past several months. I am truly grateful for those who have delighted in me, even as I struggle through the pain.

God created us to be in relationship. As we open up to God and our friends/family, it opens us up to be fed through the connection we feel as a result of our vulnerability. To feel connection means we have to participate in relationship. As I have participated in relationship with both my community and my Father, they have slowly redeemed the word depression for me. They have shown me the beauty that can be found within it and within me.