Orlando: A Mother’s Perspective

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[Image: white double doors opened reveal vertical rainbow courtesy of Fenway Health via fenwayfocus.org]

In a casual conversation, my daughter admitted to me recently that she too makes bathroom concessions. Prior to leaving for the day,  depending upon her schedule she too has to conserve her solid and liquid intake unsure of safe access for a restroom break.

Most folks complete their “business” before leaving home and perhaps never give it a second thought. My daughter and I are a bit more calculating in planning. She for being a member of the LGBTQ community and not fitting conventional standards of femininity and me due to disability and having compromised mobility. Assumptions of having universal access can feel like spotting a unicorn.

As a disabled adult whose disability has slowly progressed over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to assessing accommodations and managing low-level anxiety that often accompanies disability when navigating social events. Holding my breath, hoping for the best, and exhaling when all works out well and I return home happily intact.

As a mother, to know that my adult child doesn’t have peace of mind when entering a public bathroom when she needs to do something the body requires because she may get a side-eye or someone may challenge her sexuality is disconcerting and infuriating.  How is it that we reside in a world where intolerance, micro-aggressions, and countless unspeakable acts of horror love to rear their ugly heads?

The past weekend’s horrific tragedy at an Orlando, Florida night club where a gunman opened fire on patrons -murdering and injuring many who were members of the LGBTQ community is a glaring reminder that intolerance exists on a profound level. The fact that there are folks who will put their backwards ass beliefs into practice and turn otherwise safe spaces into hunting grounds is a very unsettling reality.

These club-goers gathered to socialize, swing hips, shake off the week’s weightiness and headaches, maybe meet a new sweetie, sing along to party songs, swig spirits and imbibe on good times. The very same things that many of us have done at any social event. The difference here though is that for far too many folks in the LGBTQ community living in a world with a high degree of bigotry spaces where one is safe to be their authentic self are limited.

Consider that many gathered there with others identifying similarly to themselves, to just be themselves..their whole self…without judgement. Bear in mind how many folks may have to hide their identity because someone somewhere is not comfortable with the disclosure of details regarding their orientation. Comfort levels are controlling the nature of the relationships. So when you have to withhold your truth, you may have to live a duplicitous life- one where part or most of the time aspects of who you remain hidden to fit in and “pass” in order to be accepted and receive equal treatment.Treatment that should be afforded across the board by virtue of being born.

As a human being, I’m still processing and astounded, aggrieved at such an atrocity taking place, that such tragedies take place here and around the globe. As a mother, I can’t imagine what it must’ve felt like being on the receiving end of one of those calls that your child would not be returning home. My heart aches for their loss, our loss. I think of the conversations that never took place or were put off for another day about their “coming out” with family/people they really wanted to share and for whatever reason the timing and/or circumstance wasn’t conducive to sharing the news.

Mostly all of the persons murdered were of color. My thoughts gravitate to my daughter, young, Black, gay, one of her gigs is working part-time at a nightclub. I think of all our conversations-carefree, silly, deep, passionate, boisterous, sometimes heated and smoking with emotion…sharing the truth of who we are.  At times, we bump heads as two strong-willed alpha females, sensitive creatives,  distinct brands of femininity but never about her sexuality. She has my unwavering support in showing up unapologetically as her authentic self.

Over the years I’ve reminded her many times that no matter what happens in the world know that you are loved at home for just being you. I wonder how many parents had similar heart-to-heart if at all with their children who may have been seeking solace that night at the club. I wonder if this tragedy will prompt more parents and loved ones to have this conversation now.

**

Image source: http://fenwayfocus.org/2015/10/how-to-be-an-ally-on-national-coming-out-day/

 

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