"You're already black and a woman... what more do you want against you?"
That was the first thing my mother said over a decade ago when I told her I was a lesbian. Like most parents who are on the receiving end of their child's declarations -- which at times run contrary to their own -- she wept. She wept for the life she thought I wouldn't be able to have. A life filled with love, happiness and gainful employment.
In that moment I tried desperately to reassure her that my life would be exactly as she had hoped with a minor tweak to the vision. I was 22, incredibly naïve and obnoxiously hopeful. I didn't understand at the time that my parents had just cause for concern. Marriage equality hadn't become a part of our lexicon and people could be fired from their jobs in almost every state for being gay. When it came to popular culture, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were still a punchline. Ellen DeGeneres didn't have a talk show, and "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was considered a liberal policy. While I was decades removed from the Stonewall riots, which many attribute to the beginning of the modern day LGBT rights movement, I was still over a decade removed from the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
So, when I declared to my parents that I was a lesbian and then quickly followed up with "everything will be fine, you'll see," I wasn't just trying to assuage their fears, I was trying to calm my own as well. Unlike the 43 percent of LGBT youth who are living on the streets because of family rejection, my parents wiped their tears and went right back to supporting me the way they always had. I can't imagine where I would be without their love and support and thankfully I don't have to worry, but I did worry about the tens of thousands of LGBT people across the country who didn't have the same built in family safety net I did.
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Originally posted at www.theGrio.com