BY ZOE AMOS
“I’m a liberal,” she said. “A democrat. I’ve got plenty of gay friends, both men and women. It’s never been a problem. So why am I not okay with my daughter being gay? I don’t get it.”
She looked up from her tea with a questioning look born of frustration. “M” was in town for a wedding and had come to visit my sister before driving up the coast. I remembered M from school. She looked much the same, older of course, years had passed. I had been invited to join them for game night, but M had pressing questions. My presence took on new meaning.
“I don’t like the way she looks,” M said of her daughter. “She used to be so pretty. Look at these photos. They were taken a couple of years ago, before she cut her hair.”
I looked at the photos she brought up on her laptop and had to agree – her daughter was beautiful. Her flashing brown eyes peered out from beneath a cascade of dark, wavy hair. A wide grin spread across her daughter’s face as she posed with her high-school girlfriends. In another, she modeled a stunning royal blue gown at a dance.
“Those are the before pictures, so you can see the difference. Look at these,” she said of her now twenty-year-old. “I can’t stand to look at her. At least she doesn’t have any tattoos or piercings.”
“What are you talking about? She looks great! She’s so cute!” I said.
My friend had a pained expression on her face. “Why did she have to do this? What’s with the pointed hair? And look at what she’s wearing!”
Wow. The expectation of her mother-daughter relationship had crashed down and the beauty she had once seen in her daughter had drained away. M expressed comments and questions typical of moms from decades past: She used to like boys. Will she like them again? Is it because she’s unsure of dating? Is she just being rebellious? Do you think she’s really gay? I wanted grandkids!
M was torn, both angry at herself and blaming her daughter for their contentious relationship. Her anxiety was palpable as she squirmed in her seat. M wanted validation for her stance, support for her feelings. She wanted to be told she wasn’t being unfair or unreasonable. She also wanted to accept her daughter as she had accepted other gays. She wanted to enjoy the fun of mother-daughter shopping, an experience she valued from her own childhood, now as remote a possibility as her daughter not being gay. She wanted to turn back the clock to a time before her daughter’s adulthood, before the haircut, before she “chose” to become a lesbian.
“Did you have clues while she was growing up?” I asked.
“Yes, there were clues. But it’s so cool to be a lesbian these days.”
“No one chooses,” I said.
“I know,” she said with an air of resignation. “But does she have to be butch? I told her I thought she looked butch and she didn’t like it.”
“I suspect she didn’t like your tone. My mom said that to me once. It was more about her saying the word than about me being butch. I’m guessing you used the word as a pejorative.”
“Probably,” she sighed and nodded, knowing she had.
“She’s accepted it,” I said. “Now it’s your turn. You have to drop your expectations or you will continue to be disappointed. This is who she is.”
“She’s my daughter! Why does that make it different? It wouldn’t matter to me if it was someone else’s daughter. I’m a liberal! It shouldn’t matter. I don’t relate to her anymore and I want us to be friends.”
I didn’t buy in to her protest. “Your first job is to be her mom. Being friends is a bonus. You have to accept her for who she is or you won’t make any inroads.”
M explored ways in which her desires for her daughter hadn’t changed. She wanted her daughter to date an interesting person, someone with a bright future. She reiterated her comment and to show her effort to move forward, changed the subject to female — she wanted her daughter to meet an interesting woman with a bright future.
Hope peered above the horizon. M will need to make an attitude adjustment. It will take time, but she is taking steps in the right direction — toward reality, even while fighting it. I felt sad for M. She believed herself to be carefully packaged in a politically correct wrapping, only to discover the inner contents of her beliefs were not what she had thought. It’s possible her biggest disappointment is not with her daughter’s lesbianism, but with herself.
The next day I spoke to my sister and suggested PFLAG for M. She needs their support and I hope she seeks it out.
Zoe Amos brings her lesbian point of view to articles and stories on diverse topics. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read her stories on Kindle and Nook. Check out her other life at: www.janetfwilliams.com.