Although I know that some of my opinions are solid and will not be changed, I usually keep them to myself—and wish a lot of other people would as well sometimes. This is a personal topic to me, but since we just celebrated Pride month, it’s important for me to be honest: I have a gay daughter. Yes, I am proud of her, I support and love her, and support other marginalized members of that community. We need politicians to help make sure families can take care of each other. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I had had inklings for a while—from her not wanting to wear skirts in elementary school to finding out she had seen every episode of “The L Word” as a teen. But when I first found out about my baby being gay, if I’m being honest? I blamed myself.
I was ashamed, worried about how my family would feel. I was embarrassed because I was privy to conversations where people in my family said some not-so-nice things about gay people. I was concerned for her physical and mental safety. I had seen the movie Boys Don’t Cry. Now add to that the reality of being a black woman in America, and I was frazzled.
Especially amidst the pandemic, in fear of the unknown, I clung to my family. My daughter was supposed to graduate in the spring of 2020, but instead we spent the year dealing with lockdowns and trying to support her dreams. When life was crumbling in the midst of the virus, my views only strengthened: families need to support each other, to love each other, no matter what, and politics should be able to help stabilize families facing crisis. I talked to my best friend, my sister, a therapist—finding that strength through their compassionate listening and encouragement, never judging me.
I am learning, learning to let go, learning to let her be free to be the woman she wants to be. So often, before you get pregnant, you dream these dreams of who your child will be, what they will look like and how we can fit them into our puzzle of life. For me, each day is a release of what I thought that life should be, and an embrace of what it is.
That means not enforcing my ways on her, besides being a good human, someone who contributes to society, who is kind and compassionate but also nobody’s fool. Someone who is smart and as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. I am in awe of her strength and ability to live in her truth.
I am proud that she does not stand alone. She has her mom, grandma, aunt, dad, and multitudes of cousins and friends who are unwavering in their love and support of her. I choose to love my kids. Period, full stop. I choose to allow others to live their lives in the ways they see fit as long as it does not hurt anyone.
At the same time, it’s frustrating to hear how many people want to impose their beliefs, judgments and morals as the only standard of living. And how many people don’t care about protecting parents or kids. When you hear politicians or activist groups talk, they don’t talk about making our lives better. In the pandemic, they didn’t want to financially assist struggling families. The homeless, the elderly, our most vulnerable populations, were all at risk. The government failed the little people but made sure to take care of the wealthy and big businesses.
That is not right. We need politicians to put families first and focus on taking care of us when hardship strikes, rather than taking care of those who are already doing just fine. Government should be about strengthening families to support each other. With so much chaos in our streets and change in society, we need to support parents and make sure that they can always choose to support their child, no matter what. Until we are all treated equally and fairly, we have failed as a society. We need to give people the chance to make mistakes, explore, and discover themselves. That is freedom, and that is what America is all about.
Edgerton Essays are a project of American Compass and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and feature the perspectives of working-class Americans on the challenges facing their communities and families and the debates central to the nation’s politics. If you or someone you know might be interested in contributing to the series, click here for more information.