Forty years ago, I first heard the word “homosexual” applied to me. I was eighteen years old when my mother disclosed that a nun from my Catholic girls’ boarding school had called with the news that I was involved in “an unsavory relationship with another girl.” The news devastated her. She never recovered from it. For many years, I yearned for her to accept me as a lesbian. I needed her acceptance to feel whole and it hurt and angered me that she withheld it.
In the eleven years since her death, I’ve come to realize that my mother could no more change who she was than I could become a heterosexual. My mother’s homophobia was not fear of homosexuality, it was fear for her lesbian daughter. Because society disparaged same-sex love so vehemently, she could not reconcile her fear. She feared that others would mistreat me, or at the very least, think less of me, and that, ultimately, God would condemn me. What she feared most of all was that she had done something to cause me to suffer this fate. Ironically, it was her deep love for me in a society filled with hate and intolerance that prevented her from accepting me as a lesbian.
On March 26, 2013, I’ll be attending a 7:15 a.m. prayer service, A Prayer for Love & Justice at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, D.C., and then witnessing in front of the United States Supreme Court to join the United for Marriage Rally as the justices hear the first of two cases related to marriage equality for same-sex couples. Later than evening, I will attend Parting the Waters: A Seder for Love, Liberation & Justice. As the LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association, I will join others as, once again, we stand on the side of love. Most of all, I hope our presence there reminds people that affirming same-sex love matters. If you can join me, wear your Standing on the Side of Love shirt and look for the SSL banner outside the church after the prayer service at about 8:30 a.m.
If you cannot be in DC on March 26, I hope you will join one of the many faith events happening around the country or create one of your own. You can find the full list or register your event at United for Marriage.
In the years since my mother died, nine states–Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia–have recognized same-sex marriage. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s rulings on the two cases before them, more states, like Rhode Island and Illinois who are now considering bills, are sure to follow. Hearts and minds are changing. publicly and privately, people are reconsidering long-held beliefs about same-sex relationships and coming out in support.
And yet, I know that full marriage equality is not a panacea. Clerics will still blaspheme LGBTQ people from their pulpits; politicians will continue to deride us in the hope of attracting voters; employers will still fire us; detractors will still beat and kill us. And, because of the hate kindled by these clerics and politicians and employers and attackers, we will still kill ourselves.
But maybe, just maybe, as marriage equality becomes a reality for all Americans, the hate will subside. Maybe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified youth, whether or not they eventually choose to marry, will have more hope about their lives. And maybe parents will be able to let go of enough of their fear to love and accept their children.
Marriage equality is not just for same-sex couples; it’s for the millions of people who love us and need to know society is not pitted against us. Please join me, so that together we can replace fear with love.
This post originally appeared on the www.StandingontheSideofLove.org blog.