(c) by Mary Griggs
The quote is from Paul Monette who lost his partner Roger Horwitz to AIDS. Those words are very much in my mind since I learned that the father of a friend suffered a massive heart attack on the 15th of January and died on the 21st.
She was floored when a high school friend contacted her to offer condolences. There had been no attempt by her surviving family to inform her of his condition or of his death. It was also from this friend that she learned that the service for her father was today.
Now, she not only has to deal with the sadness from losing her father but also with the anger at the decision by her mother and brother to exclude her from joining them in their grief.
A funeral can be a time when family members can find forgiveness or compassion for each other and heal fractured relationships. Unfortunately, it can also be a time when family rifts are cemented permanently asunder.
The idea that anyone could be so ashamed of their queer family member that they would be so cruel makes my heart ache for MJ and anyone else in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who have experienced similar treatment by their ‘loved’ ones.
Far too many still experience discrimination and rejection from family and society at large when we come out. We, therefore, create for ourselves tight kinship networks made up of friends, partners, sometimes even our ex-partners. These families of choice can serve all the same functions our family of origin did; they can provide the love, support and acceptance that we need.
Once such place to find unconditional love is from Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. PFLAG is a national organization with local chapters that offers support and provides encouragement and resources to parents, families, and friends of someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning. They also provide a safe space for LGBT individuals to share their feelings and experiences.
She is requesting that people make a donation to PFLAG in her father’s name (Nick Lowe of Clarksville, TN) at http://www.pflag.org
Doing so may only be a small way to use my grief as a sword but if it can help just one family come to see how extraordinary their lesbian daughter is then it will be enough.