Saturday, March 1, 2008

emotional? probably. praying? sweet whomever-the-hell-is-listening, yes.

My oldest daughter stopped me today while I was reading a commentary on Gary Hubbell's little column on the plight of the poor angry white dude. It was for the best.

She told me that she's at least bi, she thinks.

As a mother, this is one of the best things I could hear and one of the worst. I told her I was so very proud of her, that I was happy and that I would love and support her no matter what, that she was welcome to bring friends and dates and that my home is a safe place to stay. I had to resist the urge to tear up; I've known for months after listening to her talk about boys and her female friends, after watching the way she touches and watches her best friend and after watching the obvious discomfort she feels when people talk about boy-girl relationships.

She asked me what a transsexual was three weeks ago, and how to tell if someone was a dyke or not. I told her it's the sort of thing that is not always obvious, that she's best off getting to know people. And to always, always address people like the way they're dressed, because to do anything else is to try and deny them the thing that they are.

I'm so fucking happy I could cry. I reached out to touch her head and stroke her hair, and told her I like girls, too. That's it's okay. I've been waiting for this. I am so honored she told me, that she felt safe enough to tell me and ask for my support. I think I'm going to have to throw her a little party. My sweet baby, my long, tall, blonde smarty. My brave girl. God, she's so brave.

That's not the only reason I want to cry, though. As her mother, I cannot let her leave the conversation without telling her to be careful who she talks to about it. I cannot shield her utterly from the rejection she will get from her grandparents, the way that the family will draw back and treat her like a stranger, demand that she pretend to be something she cannot. I cannot shield her from the rejection of strangers, from the yelled, 'dyke' that I got in high school to the guys who will demand to watch her have sex, demand that she expose herself to them and try to connive or coerce her into exposure when she will not. The people that will try to force her to be more normal or threaten her because she is not. I'm trying desperately to come up with a warning that tells her to be careful but does not make her paranoid.

How can I tell her that the people around her, the straight people, the ones who tell her that they are her allies, will often as not refuse to defend her, will refuse her the right to be protected by the law, will turn their heads and walk away because they superstitiously believe, deep in their minds, that she could be un-harassed if she just were a little less flashy?

Oh my sweet baby girl, it is not a nice world out there. How can I make you safe? God, baby, anything out there listening, this is my baby, my beautiful girl. Make her safe. Please, god, please anything, make her able to trust the people around her. Make them safe to trust. I see a shadow on her face when she tells me, a tightening. She tells me, already, that she knows she cannot tell many people. She cannot tell family but me. Please let that shadow be nothing but my imagination. Let her not have already heard the litany: sick, evil, queer, bitches, need a good dicking. Hell, we're all going to hell.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the efforts of GLBT activists, the efforts of allies and of people who care will make it possible for her to never have someone threaten to beat the gay out of her. I'm hiding my tears, hiding my fears, hiding the words I type from her because I want her to be happy. I will be there when she gets harassed, be there when she is rejected and I will be ferocious. This is my baby, world, and I will not let her be ruined.


R.Skye said...

You are amazing. Your girls are the luckiest in the world to have such an amazing mother. I hope that someday your daughter will be able to have no fear. When I grow up, that's what I want to do. To stop injustice for everyone.

Added you to my blogroll.

mouthybitch said...

I hope so, too. I want her to be able to go anywhere with anyone and never be harassed, called names or threatened. I'm glad to hear you're going to be out there, trying to make the world a better place. Your comment gives me hope and I wish you luck, ferocity and a tenacious, stubborn drive to succeed.

And thank you. I want to be the best mom I can be for her and her sister, and it's good to be noticed.

R.Skye said...

Unfortunately it may be a little while before I can make a difference. I'm only thirteen, but I would like to make a difference when I am a bit older. I would love to go to law school so that I can help people who need it. Either a civil liberties lawyer, or a psychologist, so that I can help people with depression like myself.

Also, you are the kind of writer I long to be. I would love it if you stopped by my blog and gave criticism (or praise :]). Just click on my name and it'll link you, I think.

jess-nutt said...

Thank you for this! Brave daughter, intelligent and compassionate mother.

I was lucky enough to find a safe space at Smith College before ever coming out, and was surrounded with support when I needed it. I wish your daughter a place as welcoming.

CLD said...

I got here via Shakes; I left a comment there. I'll leave it here as well.

Best Mom in All The Land.

Your daughter is so lucky to have you as you are to have her. Thank you for posting this.

mouthybitch said...

Thank you. I've gotten a lot wrong over the years and I want very much to get something right. Here, I believe, I did something good.