When I either share with or people find out I grew up in a gay family, they have 2 immediate questions: were you adopted? what was it like to grow up without a mother?
Well, I was not adopted. I grew up with my biological dad and my step dad. And the answer to the 2nd question is that I don’t know. You don’t know what you didn’t have. I had a mom who was struggling with demons up until her passing sometime ago. So, I didn’t see her (complicated and sad story…I’m still debating whether to blog about it) and she was not a “mother-like” figure in my life. She lived in a different state to make matters more or possibly less complicated. What I did have was a family that stayed together and I lived in the same home for 21 years. As I sit here right now, I can’t think of any of my friends who did not come from a divorced home. Oh, wait – I just thought of 4, but these 4 were not in the circle of friends I hung with. To give you an idea of my upbringing…I grew up in a small community where if you did not know someone you knew someone they knew. 6 degree’s of separation? Try 2 degrees tops. I graduated from a high school that had about 100 – 150 people in my graduating class…actually it could have been less. I knew ALL of them. I had known most of them since elementary school. We had 4 high schools in our whole county. All of the girls I hung around came from a divorced home and moved every couple of years. Me – you knew where you could find me. I had the same address and phone number for 21 years…no joke. God I miss that house…*sigh*
Like I said….I am/was the Princess of the house. I was sheltered from a lot of things but I was also introduced to so much diversity that most kids would never experience. It was wonderfully different. Gay Pride Parades, I knew of Harvey Milk before the movie, Drag Queens, trips to Europe, struggles for equality, being a part of a community that loves you for you (and I mean LOVES and supports you no matter what…totally different from religious love), closeted actors, artists, writers. Because the area I grew up in was fairly culturally diverse and definitely “different” (it was colonized by artists and hippy’s who somehow found a way to may a shit load of money…it was the 3rd richest county when I lived there – you could be poor there and fuckin rich anywhere else), you literally did not “see” color lines until they were brought up from some movie or song. Well, I digress…back to the mommy issue. One thing that was lacking was that I did not have a mother to teach me to be feminine. Yes, I had 2 guys who were incredible decorators (oh you should have seen our house! Antiques, paintings, rugs…*sigh* GORGEOUS!) and our yard was the belle of the neighborhood. But they did not know about dresses, a vagina, a period, boobs hurting due to growth spurts, hormonal issues, or any of the wonderful growing up experiences girls go through. Thankfully I had some wonderful girlfriends who were willing to loan me their mom’s for such occasions. What I did not experience was body issues, growing up thinking I had to impress men to be happy and a sense of dependance on a relationship. Of course I was an insecure teenager, but my insecurities were different from my girlfriends.
The only reason I knew I was different was because other kids told me so. But ya know what? If I was going to be taunted about something, this wasn’t so bad. Sure there were other things: I had terrible acne, I have a big nose, my name was a target for fun by children…but, I grew stronger because of all of it. And, ya know what? Kids are openly gay at school now and open about their parents being gay. My point is this…..I had a mom, but just because I lacked a relationship with her does not mean I was any less loved. I would, in fact, argue that I was very loved considering I am a part of a community that continues to support and love me. That’s right…HALF GAY!