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I recently found a poemthing in my journal from about 2 or 3 years ago; I’d written just before mother’s day.
I hadn’t officially come out to my mother, then, but suspected that she’d known for a while that I was dating women; she’d been acting all weird and funny, speeding through our conversations with trivialities, idle gossip, and placing a suspicious emphasis on work/career updates (whereas she’d previously spent 80% of the call alluding to the lack of a boyfriend, and thus, the likelihood of her future grandchildren).
But as I was now spending so much time “saving the world” (too dangerously close to LGBT advocacy), she’d stopped asking about that, too. At one point we were literally only talking about the weather, what her and my father were eating for dinner, and Oprah. Our conversations had become filled with so much pain, so much we weren’t saying; I literally felt like I was choking each time I called home.
However, since deciding to be honest with my family about my life — my beautiful queer partnership, and my pursuit of a career around the arts and philanthropy (vs. the traditional route — doctor, lawyer, banker) — the relationship between my mother and I has slowly been improving.
She’s now at the point of constantly asking about my partner’s well-being, intentionally including her in conversations — even asking her to join in on Skype! My father has had his hiccups, but he too seems to be more at ease; he was going on and on the other day about how pretty my partner looked (since I’d sent them pictures from our France vacation). Okay, Dad. I get the point. We can now share a joke about both having good taste.
After coming out to my parents, I never would have imagined a good relationship with them would be possible. There’s always still so far to go — as I’m sure many of you know — but staying with hope has made the journey, so far, a rewarding one.
I’m sharing this poemthing I wrote, not because we haven’t moved beyond the place from which it was written (we have), but because I feel for everyone who’s ever had to feel estranged from their parents because of who they are, especially on a day like this. So much love going around about Mothers, while I know many Mothers and Daughters are sad they’re not more connected, closer to each other to enjoy the day.
If you are one of those people, know that you are not alone, love. I am thinking of you today. And praying for stregth and courage for the BOTH of you to reconnect soon… someday very soon. Happy Mothers (Who’ll Eventually Get It Together) Day :)
Oh, that’s right.. the poem thing. Here it is:
Happy Mother’s Day from a Queer African Daughter to Her Mama
On this day
when children, grown
call their homes
to remind the women who raised them
they still remember:
the birthday parties,
and warm bosoms that welcomed the aftermath of puppy love,
mean English teachers,
hot baths after ballet,
proud smiles at As, Bs, and sometimes Cs,
words of wisdom by burning stoves,
the weight of the words “I love you”
on this day,
I am afraid
to be reminded of
in your voice
that’s prevalent these days
– the hello that reminds me,
“I have failed you.”
On this day,
when children, grown
are calling their homes
with good intentions,
I’m making preparations for my defense:
the silent backlash of my “choices”
and your alleged “mistakes.”
I was gay before I went away,
America isn’t to blame for my choosing,
every single day,
to love the woman I now call home
I still believe in God,
the voice that stayed my toes
on a night I chose to believe
my life wasn’t worth living,
the voice that whispered gently,
you could still love me.
I do want children, eventually
Though I may not carry the three I promised you
I’d never shun motherhood,
or the chance to love unconditionally,
and outshine you.
I never dreamed you would question this love
Mother, after all that you’ve done,
the rings and pretty chainlinks you’ve sold,
the pride you’ve put aside to claim me,
in the face of ridiculue,
I, your daughter,
“the rogue lesbian”
never believed I would be the reason you bowed your head to mongrels
On this day,
as I prepare my defense,
against the silent conversation
we have over our phony mother-daughter role play,
I’m desperately hoping,
that in the event
either of us is caught off guard
by the white elephant,
I won’t have to use it.
On this day,
as I tell myself
over and over again
“I don’t care”
I’m desperately longing to hear
“I love you”
yet anxiously fearing the bareness
of “It’s you…”
followed by the nothingness I’ve grown used to
ever since you learned the meaning of “queer”
On this day,
I remember your lessons:
to stand strong,
always say the truth,
even those who love you,
will do you wrong.
And when they do:
I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.
Spectra is an award-winning Nigerian writer, women’s rights activist, and the voice behind the African feminist media blog, Spectra Speaks, which publishes global news and opinions about all things gender, media, diversity, and the Diaspora.
She is also the founding director of Queer Women of Color Media Wire (www.qwoc.org), a publishing and media advocacy organization that amplifies the voices of lesbian, bisexual, queer, and/or transgender women of color, diaspora, and ethnic and racial minorities across the globe.
Follow her tweets on diversity, movement-building, and love as a revolution on Twitter @spectraspeaks.
Meet Spectra: Queer Nigerian Afrofeminist Writer and Media Activist. Social Entrepreneur Nurturing Principled Diaspora and Women's Philanthropy in Media and Tech. Self-Care and Self-Love Evangelist. Idealist Warrior Woman. Big Dreamer. Big Thinker. Big Doer, Too.
Do you believe in the connection between love and social justice? Do you believe that LGBTQ rights is a transnational issue? Do you believe that gender and trans struggles are integral to the racial justice movement? If so, check out Spectra. She’s awesome, fierce, and most importantly, speaks from the heart.
I love not only your thoughts, but also how you express them… Your love-centered, hopeful, positive and proactive voice is incredibly refreshing and exactly what I’ve been looking for recently in the feminist blogosphere.Sara
Spectra has allowed myself, and many I know, access safer spaces to have much needed, challenging and powerful conversations that would otherwise not occur in our communities.ShakiraThe Network/La Red
… a flexible and effective communicator with youth across various social, class and cultural strata.AyariGirl Scouts Program Coordinator
Spectra is a talented speaker and facilitator and is especially adept at working with groups of students in ways that both challenge and support individual viewpoints.http://Eva, Harvard Women's Center
… a force to be reckoned with–in a very positive way. Spectra has the “gift” of envisioning the greatness we can achieve and uniting the folks who will make that happen. I adore her.TimFenway Health
… [an] articulate weaving of personal experience and analysis.Becky
By sharing your story, you allow people like me to relate, to experience, to learn and to share with others as well. thank you, thank you, thank you.JT
Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being an inspiration to so many people.WayoftheLiz
We love it when Spectra Speaks!The Theater Offensive
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