Since I've awoken from my afternoon nap, I have had two interestingly juxtaposed inputs - blog entries from lesbians who have been told that God can't love them the way they are (or part of that theme) and watching the first episode of Breaking Amish that was aired on TLC.
It has been so-o-o-o long since I came out, that I can't remember really what it is like to "come out" - to discover who you are and that who you are doesn't necessarily mesh with that which is around you. Moving to a small town three years ago gave me a reminder experience, but I never hid who I was, and I am happy with who I am - so hiding was never something to be considered.
People politically try to often compare homophobia with racism. Marriage equality, for example, is easy to compare to Loving v. Virginia and the Supreme Court case that declared that it was unconstitutional to punish people for an interracial marriage. We share in common a history of being a minority, and being shunned, in general society, for being that minority - for being discriminated against, for having our actions considered illegal not for the actions themselves but because of who we are.
Not a lot of fun.
But that analogy - that comparison - is rarely a satisfying one. It leaves this huge gap in understanding the fears and the risks that LGBTQZWXY folks share in risking being shunned by their family and their friends.
I remember in high school one of my best friends - who cannot remember this to save her life, and I don't need her to - screaming at me, essentially, that if I ever brought a girlfriend over to her house she'd never talk to me again. She came to my union ceremony, and has since gotten over that. But telling people you care about is a risk. I remember the short-lived friendships I made at freshman orientation in college withering away after they saw me at the Coming Out Day table on October 11th. People who no longer looked me in the eyes and who darted off in the opposite direction. I do have vague distant memories of these hurtful actions taken by others. I'm old, though, and it's been awhile.
I have been fortunate, though, that my family has been fairly accepting. Their biggest concern - which any family would have about anyone embarking on something "different" in life - was that it would be a hard life for me - that I wouldn't have a normal family life that they had. That others would make it harder. They just wanted my life to be easier - as most families would want for others in their family.
I never had to worry that my family would suddenly stop loving me for who I was. I am and was very fortunate.
But it could have gone differently, and for so many coming out, it has or it will. Even in today's more "liberal" "accepting" society (again, I'm old, it wasn't quite so acceptable back then - no Will & Grace..), children still risk alienating their parents, losing their siblings, being extricated from their families. Not belonging anymore.
People who are a minority by race - while there may be some internal racism within the community - for the most part don't have to worry that their parents will hate them because of the color of their skin. Mostly because they got it from them. Or so I'd think. For the most part, they don't have to worry about telling someone that they are "different" because what is "different" about them is evident. Now I will not pretend to argue that I understand how hard it is to be of a different race than those around you, and how hard it is because you can't "hide" necessarily - I don't pretend to know, and I am not comparing challenges. Both sets of minorities face challenges. My point here is merely to point out while some of those challenges are the same, some are quite different.
By the time the producers / directors of this series Breaking Amish has reached these young adults, they have already pretty much made their decision. Inviting camera crews into their lives in their last days, essentially, in their communities, pretty much has sealed the deal for most of them. And it is heartbreaking to watch them realize that they have to choose not only a "lifestyle" - or being true to themselves or trying to have an opportunity to figure out who they are - but they risk being shunned and NEVER being welcomed back. They can go back "home" but no-one will face them, include them, support them. In reality, they can never go back.
So episode 1 - which is all I've watched so far - is about the heartbreak of these families telling them to go back their bags and leave and, "Well, it's been nice knowing you, but you are now damned to eternal hell-fire". Much of the same garbage (in my humble opinion) that some folks in the guise of religion tell people who are LGBQTXYZ (I'm so old, it used to just be G, it was a great stride to add the L (that's not entirely true, but adding the "B" was a true expansion of the political climate's "inclusiveness")). These people in the show are going to New York City where they won't suddenly be welcomed with open arms into the new world they've chosen. There, too, they will be Other.
I lost my virginity not in any sort of romantic, love struck fantasy manner - even though I did wait until I was eighteen. I lost it because when I was on the dance floor with other lesbians - not much older than I - they would literally run away in the middle of the dance when they learned I was just coming out. I needed to get that "out of the way" to even have a CHANCE at being accepted into this "new" world.
I know that the bloggers I have been reading are still quite young. And some other young lesbians I've met make me realize that with time and experience can come maturity and acceptance - that I have come a long way from where they are. But it is painful and heart wrenching to read them struggle with their faith and their family and feeling at peace with who they are themselves. And watching, just now, Breaking Amish, I felt like I saw another set of young people dealing with a very different circumstance who could understand how they feel, nonetheless.
I wonder, though, sadly, if I introduced my new Amish "friends" to these new young lesbians, if the young struggling Amish folks would shun us, too.
We are more alike, folks, than we are different. And maybe I should re-title this post that..
Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated.
P.S. To my new lesbian friends - if you find this post - trust yourselves. Be true to yourselves. As Doctor Seuss wrote: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and
those who matter don't mind.