This is the story of the straight mother of a Lesbian Daughter and her journey of love, hope and acceptance.
I grew up in an upper-class white, male dominant household in the 50’s. We just didn’t talk about things like ethnicity, sexual preference or money. I was expected to graduate from high school, marry and have children and be a good little housewife. Even though there was money for and I was smart enough there never was a thought of my going to college. I knew a few kids in high school who were “different” and other kids made fun of them, but I just thought they were nice and fun to be around. I became involved in Girl Scouts when Connie was seven and there I learned about accepting people of different socio-economic backgrounds and different cultures.
When my daughter Connie was in college she worked at Wendy’s Hamburgers and one of her managers was a guy named Enoch who was gay. We became friends and would go shopping and talk for hours. He would talk to me about his life, his feelings and how his family related to him. I was always interested in all that he had to say and I learned a lot from him.
When my husband died in 1991, I had contact again with my best friend’s ex-husband who had left her after 8 years of marriage to live as who he was born to be, a gay man. I have gone on a journey with Jeff for the past 16 years in which I watched him struggle with his life – changes in partners, harassment from co-workers, counseling and a suicide attempt. All of this pain and struggle was just to live with the guilt that society put on him of who he was. Finally at last he has peace and believes he is one of God’s children and is loved for who he is just as God made him.
I went to many gay bars and parties with Jeff meeting a lot of homosexuals through him. I listened to a lot of life-stories from people who were searching and seeking acceptance. I found a lot of pain in them because they had been rejected by friends, kicked out on the street by families, rejected from their churches-told they were going to hell, fear of loss of jobs if anyone found out about their lifestyle, harassment by co-workers and worse. I listened to many of them talk about going home for the holidays and dreading it because they couldn’t show their true selves. A lot had to separate from their partners because they were not accepted in the others home or their families didn’t know they shared their life with someone. They told me that as a child all they ever wanted was to be accepted for who they were. Some understood from the young age of five that they were “different.” They talked to me because they knew I wasn’t judging them, that I loved them for who they were and didn’t care what lifestyle they were living.
I know that God was leading me somewhere and preparing me for something. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that at 29 my daughter came out to me. That was ten years ago and I can honestly say I never skipped a heartbeat over the love I have for my daughter. She is still the same wonderful child I bore and has grown up into a beautiful kind, caring, loving Christian woman. I did have concern about what her life would be like because of other people’s acceptance of her, but it never changed how much I love her. Connie has had a partner for 6 years now, who I love like my own daughter and we share a home together. It saddens me that my daughter works for a Christian organization but must hide who she is or she could lose her job. Her partner Lisa on the other hand is a teacher and can be herself and is accepted. It makes me angry that everyone at Connie’s job loves her and tells me how wonderful she is but if she would let them know she is a Lesbian she would be fired.
Three years ago I visited Vision of Hope Metropolitan Community Church and was drawn there. I found it a wonderful place to worship, full of a great bunch of Christian folks. I was stirred by their mission statement, “Led by Christ, Empowered to Rock the World.” I left my church, Lancaster Church of the Brethren, and followed the girls to Vision of Hope. After a lady that I had never talked to told me I inspired her I knew I had found my calling. She told me she hoped that she would one day have the relationship with her mother that Connie and I have. I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a frying pan and saying this is where I want you to be. You can be a bridge between the Gay and Straight Community and make a difference. I know that God called me to be there. I am very involved with our Social Justice Team - Voices for Equality, Leadership Team, and Spiritual Gifts Team. I have a Card Ministry, am a member of the Joyful Noise Choir, I usher and greet and was elected as a Lay Delegate. I also have an entire church that accepts me and calls me Mama Bev. I have been very blessed since I joined Vision of Hope and have met so many wonderful people. I have been able to get to know and love several trans-gendered folks and gotten to learn a lot about their journey. I have been so inspired by their struggles and yet they still believe in the power and love of Jesus Christ.
God has guided me on this journey since the time I first met Enoch which prepared me for my journey with Jeff and prepared me for my daughter which has led me to Vision of Hope which has now led me to Welcoming Dialogue. I have been to Harrisburg Pride and rode in the first parade there, sang at Lancaster Fest in the choir and will be at the first Pride Event in Lancaster in June this year. I have been to the Metropolitan Community Church Conference in Pittsburgh in November and I am going to Arizona this July both as Lay Delegate. I have attended MCC services in Baltimore, Lehigh Valley, and the ordination of our new Moderator in Washington DC. I sang with the choir at McCaskey East, Lancaster Theology Seminary and Penn State Hershey Hospital. I have recently been able to connect with folks from the HIV/AIDS community and have been very blessed through them and am looking to get more involved in a ministry there. It has been an awesome journey and I know there is still much more to do to gain us the acceptance and the basic human rights we all deserve.