|I don't have to understand, I just have to support|
This blog by Robin Bridges, mother of Advocates' staff member Emily Bridges, was written as part of our "Celebrating Pride" series for June.
When my daughter, Emily, told me she was gay we were sitting on my front porch looking out onto the Chesapeake Bay. It was a lovely peaceful evening.
Em said something along the lines of “Mom, I need to tell you something important.” Of course, my mind was racing about what it could be – a new boyfriend, a new job, moving – a thousand things. None of which included that she was coming out. I’m quite embarrassed to say that I never had an idea. Of course, Em had not been living with me at the time; she was in college. No, she never talked about guys, but she didn’t talk about girls, either. At least none that I didn’t know were her school friends.
When she told me, she said, “Mom, I have a girlfriend.” Went right over my head. I assumed she meant she’d met a new friend at work or school. Em said it again emphasizing the word girlfriend. Nothing. One more time and I got it. I responded with the “oh.” Then, another oh. And, oh again. Then, I said. “OK! Will I like her?”
At this point, Em got pretty emotional and starting crying a little. She had been afraid that I would turn her out. I was astonished that she even had the slightest thought in that direction. What a horrible time my girl must have been going through to be so worried. We both cried then.
I told Emily that my love for her had no qualifiers especially not her sexuality. I had never said "I love you but only if you’re straight." My daughter is gay and my love for her is endless. End of story. Or the beginning.
When the news starting trickling down to our family, the support for Em was nearly unanimous. She has known love and acceptance from all but a few family members who cannot see past their religious prejudices.
Since that night, Em has grown into a remarkable woman of whom I am so proud. And, she has brought another remarkable woman into our lives – her wife, Bethany. Their marriage seven years ago was one of my happiest times. I’m so glad they have found each other.
I know there are parents and family who reject their children because they are gay. It is simply beyond my comprehension. Your children are your children. You love them no matter what. What does the child’s sexuality have to do with anything? It doesn’t matter if you, as a parent, understand the child’s homosexuality. I don’t. How could I? I’m not gay. But, I don’t have to understand. I just have to support.