I hope you do not underestimate the gift you have given me, and I pray that you do not think I am ungrateful. Sometimes I flinch not because you are hostile or hateful, but because you are not perfect. I also know, however, that no one is perfect, but you all do get pretty close. It is because of you that I did not join my queer siblings on the streets, disowned from their families. It is because of you that I know my family will be present at my wedding, and along for the really gay party it promises to be. You read what I write, and root for me to succeed. You are proud to have me as your child, and I am more than proud to claim you as my family.
I know that it is tiring. It probably seems like I never shut up about my writing or my activism. I am different from you, and have different goals and aspirations. I’m at home the least of my siblings and live the farthest away. Sometimes the updates about my life come from Facebook posts announcing something exciting rather than the phone call I probably should have made. I went away to college and came back a much more radical queer, in sweaters and a tie. I live my life out loud, and I’m sure that makes you worry some nights. I speak in a language you do not always understand, and discuss movies you have not seen.
I used to really resent that. I was angry that you did not do more, that you didn’t stand next to me at actions and want to watch Pariah. I was angry that you claimed the title ally and yet you were so quiet about my movement. Your imperfections, as I perceived them, angered me. My anger, resentment, and frustration blinded me from seeing all that you have done and will continue to do. A paper for class on marriage equality, standing up to homophobia within our church (before I even came out), attaching rainbow ribbons to your key chains, and engaging with people when they say hurtful things about members of your family, are all ways you stand with me. I lost sight of that for a while, which is not exactly fair.
You do not have to be perfect in order for me to love and appreciate you, and I hope you always know that. I maintain that you have given me the greatest gift of all: strength. When bigoted and/or misinformed people shoot bullets at me in the form of their harmful words, I wear a suit of armor. Not receiving validation from others does not matter to me, because I do have the unconditional love and support of you. When wounds are inflicted, it is through your love that I heal. Without you I wouldn’t be the person I am, and it is because of you that I have the strength and will to stand up. Far too many in my community cannot be themselves for fear of retribution from their families. Far too many in my community have been disowned by those who should have supported them. Far too many paid, are paying, and will continue to pay the ultimate price. Your love saved me from joining their ranks. You do more than enough.
And on this Day of Thanks and during this holiday season, it is you for whom I am most thankful.
I love you,