I have been in my “reconstruction” place as I navigate so many emotions and changes and memories, and what nots. As I’ve slowly come back to “the swing of things”, I have noticed that life and struggles and emotions of others have continued without me. I don’t mean that in “they went on without me”, I mean it in the sense of “wow, some hard stuff has been going on with people I love.” So today, I’d like to ruminate on one of those issues.
Everyone wants and perhaps even expects loyalty from those who are in their lives. Family, friends, even co-workers; the expectation is that they will have your back. I know in my own walk I try to be loyal, but I am sure there are times when my definition of loyalty has not aligned with the definition of someone else. But, I think we can all agree that there is a tacit understanding that you should be able to trust, at a certain level, people that exist in your daily life. That expectation is much bigger for those closest to us, especially the one we love and plan to spend the rest of our life with. And, I guess that is the basis of this post.
Being LGBT, Deana and I often deal with people who do not accept our relationship – I’ve written about this topic a few times on this blog. There are several classes of people in this area; those that support us to our faces, but cannot be “out” to allow others to see their support, those who are very direct with their opinions but still hang with us in group settings, those who were direct with their opinions and have chosen to not be our friends, and those who are direct with their opinions and refuse to accept or allow themselves to be around the one we love. It is the last group I will address today – this group is especially tricky when it involves family.
I have a small but powerful number of older people in my family who do not accept my marriage to Deana. To cut to the chase, they love me and have sort of accepted the fact I am a lesbian, but they refuse to accept Deana and in fact will not accept her in their homes. If there is a family gathering and they can control the guest list, she would not be invited. If there is a family gathering and they cannot control the guest list, they will either not attend if Deana is there or avoid her like the plague. For my part, this is a tough situation, because I LOVE these family members and I want to be able to fellowship with them, I want to interact with them, and I want to be loved by them. AND I want them to love Deana. It is TOUGH and anyone in this sort of situation I have huge sympathy for because it isn’t pleasant.
But here is the deal – I have chosen Deana. I love her with all my heart. I have pledged my life to her, in sickness and in health, and we have married each other (aka “become one”). She is so important to me, I have been legally and spiritually linked to her. I esteem her so much that I live with her, I dream with her, I plan with her, and I will grow old with her. She is my WIFE. The Bible says that we leave our parents and cleave to the one we marry. And I will add, whether or not you agree with same-sex marriage or accept the spiritual or even the legal link involved, I have raised Deana to a level that in all acceptable circles (especially if this was a heterosexual relationship), she is the #1 person in my life. NUMBER ONE!
So, if I am in a situation where I am invited to a family gathering and Deana is not invited, that is an affront not only to Deana, but to ME! We have become ONE, and yet a piece of me has been relegated to not even be esteemed enough to be invited, no matter what pretense is offered as a reason for the exclusion. Because of that, I do not entertain the idea of going without her, because doing so adds credence to the fact that our relationship is somehow shameful. That are relationship is deficient. That our relationship is inferior. And that is not fair. Further, I love Deana so much that I would NEVER, EVER choose ANYONE over Deana, because my loyalty is to her first. I have been invited to Christmas gatherings that I have not attended because Deana was not invited. And believe me, that was hard, it was painful, but it was right. Because, Deana is my family, and to leave her behind would be leaving a piece of me behind and it would be a dagger to her heart. I would be just as guilty as my family that have overtly rejected her if I went along and played in that game. I would reject her as well by going.
That’s not to say that visiting said family is wrong. I love my family and I also respect their choices. Deana understands that too and gives me room to have them in my life, and understands the importance of their place in my life and the need to interact with them. I absolutely enjoy spending time with them, loving on them, and being with them. But, unfortunately, there is a true line that has been drawn that I will not cross, and clearly articulated to my family members that if they do not include my wife (a piece of me) to family gatherings, I will not attend. I absolutely respect their stance, but there is cost to them if they keep it. Because, as much as I want to be loyal to my family, being loyal to my wife trumps that. And I believe it should be that way.
There is a piece of me that resents this is even an issue, because 100% of the exclusion stances are related to our sexuality. I resent that other people can be jerks and treat said family horribly, but they are welcome because they are straight. But even in admitting that, I will always stick to being loyal to my wife first. I pray for others who find themselves in this situation, and I truly pray that they make the right decision when dealing with it. I have seen too many relationships torn apart because loyalty gets sideways. And I understand the pain and struggle when you’re caught in the middle. But try to remember, LOVE should not make you choose. But if you have to choose, choose the one you will grow old with. At least, that’s the way I have chosen to lead my life. And know this, I also believe that SOMEDAY, through the Grace of God, there will be restoration to this situation. Maybe I will write more on that later! 🙂