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The Antelope

The Antelope

LOVE IS COMPLICATED: Family should be accepting regardless of understanding, beliefs

LGBTQ pride flags

Each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, our entire family gathers for a big celebration to catch up, play games and enjoy each other’s company and my grandma’s cooking, of course.

This is one of the few times for us all to connect and share the love we have for each other. I’ve watched as my cousins have brought their significant others to these events, where they have been welcomed with open arms.

But I have to wonder, how would my family react if I brought a girl to our family Christmas? Would they give her the same energy? Would they welcome her into our family with open arms, regardless of their religious beliefs?

This is a question I think about constantly.

When I first began identifying as bisexual, I was pretty comfortable letting others know about it. I was proud of who I am, even though I didn’t really understand it very well yet. I thought that I should figure out a way to tell my extended family, since I am so close with them. It felt weird keeping something from them that was such a big part of me.

My mom, however, dissagreed with me.

She told me that she didn’t really think that there was any reason to do this — that they didn’t need to know until I had a girlfriend. I agreed and shrugged it off, not really putting much thought into it.

But after a while, I wondered what my mom’s intentions were. Did she really think it wasn’t necessary information to share, or was there something more to it? Was she looking out for me, or was she avoiding the conversation?

I love my family, and I am so blessed to have a huge family that supports me in everything I do.

But being loved and being understood are two different things.

Being able have a comfortable space to talk about my feelings and feel validated is not something that I can expect from my family. 

Although my mom says she accepts me, she will never be able to fully accept my bisexuality until she understands it. She has always known that I like men, but she hasn’t yet grasped that I feel the same way toward girls. She has not had much experience around this, due to her Catholic, conservative origins in Columbus, Nebraska. 

I don’t see this way of thinking as my mom’s fault, but it would feel nice to be accepted and understood by the people that mean the most to me.

My worry doesn’t even really come from my mom’s lack of understanding, though.

At least my mom can tell me that she accepts me for who I am. I’m uncertain if there are members of my family that would even choose to accept this part of me.   

It makes me wonder if it would be easier to fall in love with a man.

That way, I wouldn’t have to wonder if my grandparents would be uncomfortable at my wedding. I wouldn’t have to stress about the reactions we would get at family Christmas. I wouldn’t have to constantly guess if I was being judged for who I love. 

All I want is to have those same experiences that everyone else gets. The celebration of love is one of the best feelings, and I want to have that regardless of who I love. 

The idea of it all is terrifying. 

But I won’t let my fears stop me from finding the person I am meant to be with. If my family really loves me, it won’t matter.

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