Mother of a queer, Ismaili woman
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
I already knew the answer when I posed the question to my daughter. She was at home during winter break from college. I knew that I would ask her at some point during her time at home. I just needed to know..it was bothering me that I didn’t know. I wish I could remember exactly what precipitated this conversation. My daughter had been slowly distancing herself from me. I remember thinking how she didn’t like it anymore when I hugged her, and the warmth in our relationship was lacking. So I think it was a moment when I was feeling like “this just isn’t her” I just said (I really cannot remember the exact words) and she started crying and nodding her head yes.” I just put my arms around her and calmed her down and she said..”you don’t care mum?” And I said “NO.. I am completely OK with it.” We both seemed relieved for different reasons. For me, I could stop “wondering”. It really didn’t matter to me, and in fact I remember thinking, “why didn’t she say something sooner?” I honestly don’t remember feeling, or thinking any negative thoughts. The thoughts that took over in my mind were more about her and what she must have been going through. I wanted to know everything, but didn’t know how to ask, or what was appropriate. So I held back. Of course I wanted to know if she was in a relationship, was she happy, when could I meet this person….etc… I wished I could have known more what to say to her other than I was completely OK with it. I feel like that wasn’t enough for her, but I really didn’t know the appropriate language. Like I didn’t know if I should say girlfriend or partner, or say gay or lesbian?
I did feel a little isolated, because at the time I didn’t know anyone else that had a family member that had come out to them. I had not had any conversations about this with any of my friends. I remember when I had brought it up to my sister when I had an inclination, she sort of made me feel like that was terrible news, and I felt really hurt that she had reacted that way. I also knew that I was not going to get any support from my ex husband. My youngest daughter was 17 at the time so I couldn’t expect much support from her. She, by the way, seemed completely unphased by the news so I was grateful that I didn’t have to have too many conversations with her.
I did start to have some internal dialogue. If I had to choose one thing that was on top of the list of my internal dialogue, it was the notion of not having grand children in the traditional way.
When I finally stopped “thinking”, and started “acting”, it was the beginning of the journey to where I am today. I stopped worrying about everyone else’s reaction and what everyone else would think or feel toward me and my child. I just woke up one morning and thought to myself, this is not about me or everyone else. My efforts should not be wasted on them. All my efforts should be toward my daughter and making sure that she feels 100% loved and supported by me…that’s it!
The journey to where I am today has been one of tremendous personal growth. The things that have helped me the most are to continue to educate myself more on human rights issues and involve myself in open dialogue at events. I am more educated and aware now of what challenges LGBTQ communities are facing, not only in the US, but in other countries as well. I feel immediate empathy when I hear of hate crimes/ harassment and I try to support many events related to Gay rights. Attending LGBTQ events and support groups such as Trikone have empowered me to reach out and help others who feel isolated. The most difficult part of the journey has been not having spousal support, and for being made to feel that being divorced was what led to this.
The feeling of isolation has not completely gone away for me. My reservation still is that I am not accepted in my daughter’s life completely. I struggle with how the family dynamic will be when she and her girlfriend and I are spending time together.
I also struggle with how members of my community are going to react to me. I am not involved in my community much, so this is only a conjecture on my part. I don’t think most of them are open to it in the same way I am. I think they would feel “sorry” for me if they knew of my daughter, or they would try to put blame on me. I am not one to put up with any narrow mindedness and I am hoping I have the strength to set them straight if anything derogatory was said.
My dreams for my children have always been that they are loving, and compassionate human beings; that they are productive members of society, enjoy their work, and have love in their lives. I wish them a safer environment where sexual orientation did not matter to anyone, so they can express their love freely and openly.
When I hear of anyone else going through the same process and if I am able to be part of it, I just encourage them to be true to themselves. I try to help facilitate their process and provide support and strength, for them to be the person their inner self wants them to be. My relationship has changed with my daughter for the better. For a period of time I had sensed some detachment from her, perhaps when she was working thru all this, but now, I feel that she has nothing to hide from me, so she’s just more present and at ease around me now.
A couple of months later, I tried talking to my sister again, and she apologized for her previous reaction, and without judgment, let me open up the realities of my mind to her. I was really worried about how my ex husband (my daughter’s dad) was going to handle this situation. I do not want to elaborate on how this conversation took place and what their relationship is right now.
I am in a good place with all of this…it really is not an issue for me. I wish my daughter and her current girlfriend a life of happiness and to know that they are welcome in my home.