Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

When you fall in love with someone you want to stand on top of the highest hill and proclaim it to the world.  When I fell in love with Natalie I was giddy with emotions and wanted everyone to know.  However, being young lesbians we couldn't tell our friends or family.  We did not even tell our friend, Debbie, she thought all homosexuals should be treated like criminals, which became a barrier in our friendship.  Also, in 1985 Natalie was on an ROTC scholarship.  This was before, "Don't ask, don't tell," and the military would discharge people just on the mere suggestion of homosexuality.  We had to hide the love we shared and hide it well.  It was very hard on me, I am not a person who keeps secrets.

My last weekend home before returning to college Natalie spent the weekend at my house.  The weekend was full of surreptitious caresses and heated glances so no one would know.  There was one member of my family who could know about us, my infant niece.  I remember her sitting in her high chair and laughing at us while she banged her spoon on the tray.  The first person to know about Natalie and I was my niece.  I cannot comment on how knowing about her lesbians aunts since infancy has affected her.  I hope it has made her a more accepting of people as a whole and that she passes those feelings on to her children.  I hope for a whole generation of children to think it is okay to have two aunts or two uncles.

My niece in her high chair with my parents, 1985
I would like to say the rest of our friends and family were as accepting, but I can't.  Each one of them took their own time wrapping their minds around our relationship.  Natalie took the worst of it all the way around.  Six months later her dad would disown her because of me and a month after that my dad would threaten to shoot her for the same reason.  Those bridges needed to be rebuilt, and over time they were.  Again my hope for my nieces and nephews is that they never have to hide who they love.  Six months of loving Natalie and not being able to to tell anyone was cruel.  I would not wish that fate on anyone.

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