Q is for Queer

New musings inspired by the alphabet... 

In 1988, the United Church of Canada went through a hard, divisive discernment about 
the ordination of gays and lesbians. 
Men who were gay, women who were lesbians. Men and women in same-sex relationships.

During the debate, during a car ride, 
my mother said to me, 
"If you came home and told me you are a lesbian, it wouldn't matter.
I wouldn't want to lose you as my daughter." 

Now, thirty years later, 
and having a friend who is trans, and who has been rejected by his parents,
I see how significant this brief conversation with my mother was. 
What a powerful statement of acceptance.
Granted, I was so boy-crazy, there was no question, really, to whom I was attracted,
but still:
She told me that. She made it clear,
no matter what, no matter who, 
she loved me and I was her daughter. 

Now, our language is different because our identities have expanded,
our knowledge has expanded, 
our acceptance has expanded
(not quickly, not easily, not gently and definitely not fully
but thankfully, it is progressing). 
We say "people who identify as"
and the identities have expanded to include transgender and non-binary. 
In 1988, transgender wasn't a concept (identity) we were aware of, like it is now,
so would she have been so accepting if I'd come home and said,
"Mom, I'm a man."
What would it have meant if she really was losing me as a daughter? 

She didn't have those challenges (is there a better word?) with either of her daughters,
but now, her grandchildren are requiring her to consider
her language,
her knowledge,
her responses. 

I know from experience,
she will love them 
no matter what, no matter who they are.

And my mother, now 80 years old, is rolling with it. 
She is trying to keep up. 
These days, the word that she stumbles over is 
And the stumble is more semantic. 
For her, she hears "queer" as derogatory, as an insult and a putdown, 
because that's how she first heard it used.

But the word has been reclaimed
and reframed
and given a new power to empower.

"It's now an umbrella term," I tell her,
meant to cover the wide spectrum of sexual identity.
I like it - I remember it better than all the letters!"

She laughs. "That's true." 

This is the part of being her daughter,
and being human,
that I love and that gives me hope:
the constant evolution of our knowledge and our ideas,
of our identities and our truth,
of our love and our acceptance. 

It is easier to love than to hate.
It is easier to accept than to reject. 
I wish more people realized this, 
I wish more people were able to learn new words
rather than insist on using wrong words,
I wish more people believed in the power of healing
rather than hurting. 

Live and let live.
Love and let love. 

~ SJ


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