With the holiday season, I have thought a lot about my mom, Anita Toscano, who died in September. I thought of my mom’s words when I recently read pre-Christmas post by Elliot, where he talks about the challenges of dealing with our families during the season especially when they struggle to embrace us for who we are. I can just see my mom sitting down with Elliot, sharing some wisdom. I wrote the following to Elliot in the form of a comment and thought I’d repost it here.
My mom often reminded me that understanding, accepting and celebrating a queer child is a hard transition for most parents.
Their minds need to be renewed. They only have years of negative images about queer folks of any sort. They have memories of terrible things happening to the town dyke or fag or queer. They often have no first hand experience of happy queer folks. They need to learn some new tricks, and for old dogs, that can be tricky. Not impossible, but it takes time and patience.
You have had months (years) to think through these isssues and do so in conversation, blogs, reading, thinking, writing. They have not done this work and don’t understand how you are wired inside. So much of it doesn’t make sense to them yet.
Often they speak out of ignorance and decades of conditioning. They may also remember how uncertain they were at your age, how unprepared for the world and wonder how a young people can really know himself so well, especially in a world so much more complex than their own.
This is not to let them off the hook, but to encourage you to give them some line and reel them in slowly and carefully and lovingly, like you want them to deal with you.
It can feel hard when it seems much of the outside world around us is against us. When we need allies at home, they seem so unwilling. But they will see your intelligence, your integrity, your wisdom and hopefully in time (maybe sooner than you can imagine) they will celebrate you.
In the mean time, I celebrate you and wish you a wicked good Christmas.