My Dear Children, I have been blessed with the three of you. You are all funny and bright and talented and smart. You are all brown-haired and hazel-eyed. One of you is a college senior studying biology and environmental studies, and you make beautiful music on the piano and the clarinet, you are interested in animal conservation and working in Australia, and you are quietly wise. Another of you is a marketing major in your second year of college, you sing like an angel, adore your family and friends, you are compassionate, play ultimate frisbee, and have an infectious laugh. You, the third-born, are in high school, you eat, sleep and drink music, love to laugh with your friends, question authority, play a fine game of tennis, love English class, and you never want to be an adult.
Kind of sounds like the stuff a traditional family Christmas letter is made of, right? Bragging on you kids, updating friends and family on your activities, listing your redeeming character traits, only mentioning the positive stuff.
No one wants to read about one of you having such a rough year at school that you turned inward and engaged in some pretty self-destructive behaviors. Or about another of you trying to pick up the pieces of your broken heart. Or about illness or financial strains. No, that would all be TMI for the annual Christmas letter. So we share the sunshine and butterflies with others. People like to read about sunshine and butterflies.
And rainbows perhaps … .
Should I mention that one of you is gay? Now that, for some reason, is very newsworthy. That seems to be of interest to anyone and everyone, especially those who have lots of advice on how gay people should be living their lives. That is headline material even to pure strangers who know nothing of you, much less of your strong character and loving heart. Doesn't matter that you save your money to donate to charities, and you are always there for your friends when they need you ( not to mention that you have probably saved more than one of your friends from doing something they'd regret during a moment of personal anguish ) , and you love your family, and you hurt and cry salty tears like anyone else. Nope, once you were "out" ( and maybe even when you weren't ) that became the one and only thing that not only described you, but defined you … at least in the eyes of some people, many of whom don't even know you. And as you started having to face the bullies every day at school, it felt to you that life was never going to get better.
While two of you are never identified by others as "the heterosexual one," one of you almost always has your sexual orientation used in describing you. In fact, you overheard another member of your string quartet describe the group to his friend and refer to you as "the gay one." ( Forget that you are the violist of the group, which would make more sense as a way of identifying you! ) Just when you thought you'd met some people who understood and accepted you, you were faced with the stereotyping by a few in the group and suddenly what you thought was getting better, really wasn't.
All three of you have faced the hurtful words of others, whether those words were directed toward you, a family member, a friend. Luckily, you have strong family roots, from our oldest members who love you wholly and deeply to the youngest who look up to you and respect you. Fortunately, you are all stubborn and strong and have a deep sense of right and wrong; you would all defend a victim rather than victimize; you believe it's more important to build people up than to criticize; you know what to make the most of in your lives and what to minimize. You are learning to have tolerance when necessary and that to have acceptance is an even higher calling. Learning these lessons is a sure sign that it gets better. YOU are better.
Sometimes maybe you younger two can see how things get better from watching your older sibling ( s ) ; other times maybe not so much. Maybe all of you can look back at the past year and see that those life crises and hurts that were huge in the moment have now faded with time, or have diminished in meaning, or are healing. Things have gotten better, even though those challenges were really not that long ago.
Your experiences, as varied as they are between the three of you, are your personal building blocks that have created and continue to create who you are, what you stand for, and how strong you'll stand. Though you each follow fiercely independent paths, your connections to each other and to your friends and family support your journeys and uphold you with love. You are empowered to look out for each other; to fix what's broken in our world and nurture what's hurting. You can all make change happen so that things do get better in your own lives and in our world. It gets better because you make that happen.
As you travel your roads, my wish is that you'll always make the journey better for others whose paths you cross, especially those who don't feel loved and valued. Take the lessons you've been given and respect life. You may never know how, but you each touch many, many people in your lives. You have the power to make that moment with another a defining moment in your own life as well as theirs. As you help build others up, your own lives will be enriched. And life will get better for everyone.
I love you all forever and ever, Mom.
IN THIS ISSUE [ LINK HERE OR FROM THIS ISSUE'S MAIN INDEX ]
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Anti-suicide project reflects on cases
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php DePaul vigil remembers teen suicides
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www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Tracy Baim
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Toni Weaver
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Bobby Pirtle
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Eric Marcus
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Alexandra Billings
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www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Karlis Streips
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www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Judy Shepard
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www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Joshua Plant
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www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Mother of Slain Teen Gwen Araujo Addresses LGBT Youth Suicide by Sylvia Guerrero
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