Spending my early childhood years in the Midwest, I was made aware that my family was “different” in Minnesota. I was a Girl Scout (Brownie at the time), who ice-skated and took dance lessons. I enjoyed my suburban life. Yet when I came home, I didn’t come home to mom and dad, I came home to mom, period. As I approached the fun stage of adolescence, my mom decided it was time to move close to her “village,” so we packed up and headed to Burke, VA. My aunt Lynda also headed to Burke and moved in with us when I was 12. They formed a dynamic duo to parent me. I didn’t have mom and dad, I had mom and aunt.
They raised me in a very inclusive home. As a faith-based person, I was taught to love and accept everyone for who they are. In high school, I had friends who were part of the LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) community, since then the community has grown to be referred to as LGBTQ+. I had family too — my aunt. I admired my aunt. She wasn’t just an attorney, but a public servant. Today she sits on the Board of Directors of the Covenant House of Greater Washington. I watched her journey; I remember our deep conversations about how she felt when she came out and what it took for her live her life out loud.
By the time I was in college, she had found the love of her life, my aunt Darlene. When same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland, my aunts were married. There were tears of not only joy and love at their ceremony, but also of relief that they finally got the same legal rights in their state. They have been together for 18 years and married for almost 10 years. As a married woman, I look up to them as an exemplary model of partnership. They have raised their daughter, who just got a full scholarship to college, since she was one. My cousin proudly boasts that she has two moms — mom and “Mum” (what she affectionally calls my aunt Lynda).
I’ve learned a lot as a daughter of a parent who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve learned of the discrimination and hate this community faces. I’ve learned of the judgement and uphill battles parents and families in the LGBTQ+ community deal with daily. And I’ve learned of the unique challenges that Black and Brown people face from their intersectionality in this community. But I’ve also learned of the power of advocacy and support. There are many ways to serve our LGBTQ+ community, too many to name here. It’s great to support an organization or cause championing and serving the LGBTQ+ community. But we can do something more. We can put down our biases and pick up empathy and acceptance. All families and people are different and all should be embraced for who they are.