Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Utah LGBT Families

I’m back from a brief hiatus. Being busy with a few projects for Utah Pride and other commitments has left me with a severe time deficiency. That said, it seems there is some good news on the horizon and I’ll let you know when it’s all “official,” though I’ll leave out many details if and when that comes to pass.

Today, I’m back for a very special reason and that is a blogging holiday. Today is Blogging for LGBT Families Day and I’d just like to share my thoughts on the subject. In my mind, LGBT Families evolved from an impossibility years ago to an invisible reality.

A professor, unaware of my sexuality, expressed her concern for some friends she met over a decade ago: “Our oldest, Harry, was in the hospital again. The cancer had come back for the second time and he was losing. In the next room was a little girl 5 years younger fighting the same disease. I found an instant friend in Melody. We were going through this together, and although this was the 3rd time for me, we were instantly bound together emotionally. Our third day there, my husband stopped by with lunch for both of us. Innocently inquiring about her family, she revealed that she was a lesbian and that her partner, Telly, wasn’t allowed to visit.”


“The pain that I felt in that moment shot into every part of my heart—not only those chambers reserved for personal pain, but also for social injustice and pure empathy. My love for my husband and son was no different to hers for her partner and daughter and I had no idea how to express that other than wailing an angry, impassioned plea to the director of the hospital. Through the veil of tears over my eyes, I only recall the stonewall demeanor of the director looking across from me at his desk, elbows on the sides of his chair, hands held together as his wrists rubbed against one another and he said in positively unemotional tone, ‘There’s nothing I can do for Miss Grant and Miss Siporin.’

“The next week was spent in the agony of my life. I sat attentively—as composed as possible—in the hospital as I cared for my son’s every need only to return home every night in total agony of the world I lived in. Their Rose and our Harry both passed away that week. I was powerless in every sense of the word.

“Our friendship with Melody and Telly continued and we see each other about once a year around the anniversary of Harry’s death. The only way for me to continue was to love my other children and accept Melody and Telly as the sisters and mothers they are.”

9. May 20, 2004. Couples who applied for marriage licenses on May 17 and did not have the standard three-day waiting period waived, picked up their licenses on May 20. In honor of the historic occasion, marriages were held all day long at the Arlington Street Church, a Unitarian Universalist landmark in downtown Boston. Every 20 minutes, a new couple, sometimes alone, other times with children and even pets, walked down the aisle to say their vows. Among the families celebrating were M. J. Knoll, Christine Finn, and their four-year-old son, Henry. After the wedding, Henry concluded on his own, “Now we’re all Knoll-Finns.

I wasn’t expecting that at all. I’d grown up Mormon and attended LDS Seminary with her daughter. Her husband was running for state office and I realized that what she wanted for her friends and sisters was what I wanted for myself. A few months later, I met someone who’d show me first hand that it was possible.


C.J. said...

I think that, from a legal ethics perspective, we'll look back on this epoch and be ashamed. First, we didn't recognize that African Americans were people; we look back on that, and we're ashamed. Then, we didn't recognize that women were people; we look back on that, and we're ashamed. We pretend that we've come so far from the French "wars of religion" in the 1500's, but have we, really? Even today, we act like others' differences are somehow a direct challenge to our own beliefs, and lifestyles--as though the very fact of my neighbor choosing a certain path means I can't choose my own. We've yet learned to peacefully exist, or truly embrace the notion of different, but equal. We never truly will, I don't think, until we can take our own personal morality out of the equation.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I think "Really?" sums up how even two generations from now events like these will be viewed. Our grandkids will ask us to explain why and we won't even be able to explain why that would even happen.

C.J. said...

I hope so. I sincerely hope we're not still rationalizing this, the way we're still rationalizing the Jim Crow laws. I can't decide which is more revolting: treating people this way, or, years later, acting like the perpetrators somehow had "no choice" because of societal pressures.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Agreed. That reminds me of a documentary on repentant segregationalists exploring how they rationalized it in their youth. Maybe I just made that up just now, though....

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