Saturday, June 2, 2012

LGBT Love Story #1

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Lisa Marchbanks of BunnyBearDesigns, is the story of love between parent and child...

As a young child I had a hard time understanding my feelings. The crush on my 3rd grade elementary school teacher, Ms. Rowe, was something I never talked about...maybe because I just didn't understand it. In 6th grade I found a Playboy magazine of two girls kissing. I hid it under my bed and looked at it often. It stirred feelings inside that I just didn't understand.

In high school, I did what all the girls were doing...I dated boys. In fact I dated several. All the while I found myself attracted to several girls in my classes. I never spoke of it, thinking I was the only one. I look back on that time and realize that while I DID have feelings of suicide, I always thought they were because of the repressed home life I had. I'm sure that was part of it, but now I realize it was probably because I felt so different from everyone else. Here I was dating boys and going out on double dates and hanging with my friends when really all I wanted to do was cuddle and hold my best friend. I had the biggest crush on her and I don't think she really ever knew it. Even to this day she doesn’t.

After high school, even though I was taking precautions, I ended up pregnant and in a relationship I didn't really want to be in. During my son's early years I met someone who showed me that I wasn't the only one. It was definitely an eye opening experience. And within a few short months I was dating a girl.

We were together for nearly a year when I thought it was time to tell my mom. First, I needed to tell her that I was no longer with my son's father and second that I was dating someone new. My call to her went something like this:

Me: Hi mom, I've got something to tell you.

Mom: Let me guess, you left ____ and you're not together anymore.

Me: Riiiiiiiight ~looooong pause of silence~

Mom: For another man?

Me:~more loooooooooong silence and getting the feeling she's understanding what I'm saying but not saying~

Mom: ~slowly~ Oooooooooookay?

Me: And I want you to meet her!

We made arrangements to visit.

My girl fussed over what to wear. She ironed her shirt and jeans and was just a nervous wreck.

We arrived at my parents' house and as I walked in to hug mom my girlfriend was standing behind me. My mom looked over my shoulder at my girlfriend and the first thing out of her mouth was "You should've been a man!"

"Moooooother!" I said. "Be nice, please." Expecting her to not know how to handle it all.

We ended up having a nice visit. Mom was a bit shocked but seemed to handle it all very well, surprisingly. She made the decision during that discussion that I was just "going through a phase" and we should just give it some time before we tell my dad. I let her make that decision. I really didn't care what she did.

My girlfriend and I left and considered the meeting a win. I felt rather proud of my mom for being so open-minded.

The next day I got a call from my mom, which wasn't out of the ordinary considering we generally talked to each other several times a day. Here's how it went:

Mom: (very casual and nonchalant) Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?

Me: Not sure, why?

Mom (very quickly she took an angry turn and started crying and raising her voice) Because I suggest you come over here and tell your father what you've done and I don't EVER want to see you again (by this time I'M crying) and I don't want you to see your son again, either! I suggest you move out of the state!


I was a crying, balling mess in the matter of a 30 second phone call. I couldn't understand why my mother, who'd told me my entire life that she loved me DIDN'T love me, after all.

During the next two years I tried to call her several times. I would get, what we came to call, "the Ice Princess" treatment:

Me: Hi mom, how's it going?

Mom: (in a cold, very monotone voice) whatdoyouwant?

Me: I miss you. I want to see you.

Mom: Don't call me again. ~SLAM~

It was tough. I missed her so much I'd find myself crying myself to sleep at least once a week.

But then, through a friend, I found out my brother and her had a bit of a scuffle. One that angered me...because you just don't do that with your parents. Elders deserve respect. Something my brother had not given to my mother on this particular occasion.

I told a friend about it and explained my apprehension in calling my mom to check on her. My friend suggested I sit down and write her a letter. One of those "therapy letters", you know the kind you write more for yourself that you don’t necessarily mail? Yeah, that kind.

So, I did. I sat down at my typewriter (yes, typewriter) and started spilling my guts. I told her that I never meant to hurt her and that this wasn't something just to make her mad. In fact, it wasn’t about her at all. It was something I'd felt my whole life. Spilling my guts like that was so intense that by the time I got to the bottom of page 3 I was crying so hard my tears were smearing the ink on the page.

That was when I just said, forget it -- I'm calling my momma. She answered the phone and I was crying so hard that it started her crying too. We both apologized to each other and she begged me to come over right then. I got in the car and how in the world I drove there, while I was a sloppy crying mess, I’ll never know.

She opened the door as I drove up, I ran up to her and we hugged and cried and cried and hugged. We spent the next several hours sitting on the couch just holding each other and crying. (I'm tearing up as I write this remembering those moments).

She truly knew what it felt like to lose a child, even though it was a self-imposed loss, it was a loss all the same. She said she never wanted to go through that again. And thankfully she hasn’t. Since then she’s been my biggest supporter. She has loved and cared for the people in my life even during the hard times. It was a tough experience, but I’d like to think we BOTH grew and learned from it. It is a part of the fabric of our lives.


Shortly after writing this commentary, I called my mother to wish her happy birthday. She asked what I was doing for the day and I told I’d just finished writing our story about my “coming out” and asked her if she wanted me to read it to her? It IS after all, partly her story too and I felt it only respectful to ask her permission to publish it. It was only a matter of time that we both would end up in a crying blubbering mess as I read. She apologized upon recognizing her failure and I’m sure a twinge of guilt flared up in her as well. It was a tough read for us both but ultimately we came to the conclusion that it will hopefully help many more than it would just hurt us (or namely, her). If just ONE parent reads this and comes to the realization that the pain they might incur on their child, due to their personal or religious beliefs, is more important than their beliefs, then this story and our pain, has done its job.

Parents, please take into consideration that the secret your child holds is so delicate and tender, how you react to it could change their world entirely. In what way, is entirely up to you.

Lisa Marchbanks is an artist, a writer, a marriage equality activist and a collector of oddities. She lives in Pasadena with her partner and dog, Eddie. la_princessa_tx at yahoo


BunnyKissd said...

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing such a personal story...

laprincessa said...

My pleasure. Like I said, if it helps even just one person then the story has done its job.

Michelley said...

I'm so happy that both you and your mom worked through this heartahe to find a happy ending. You both demonstrate incredible courage and the power of learning unconditional love. Thank you, Lisa!

Jessyca Merati said...

Thank you, Lisa! This story is incredible, touching, and heartbreaking all at the same time. I am so happy to know that you and your mom are doing well and close again. It takes a strong person to realize their mistakes, and she should be applauded for that!

laprincessa said...

My email address has changed to laprincessaca at gmail