My dearest daughter. You are too young for this conversation now, but I know one day I will need to have it with you. I have been practicing in my head since before you were born. Hoping that some ‘ah ha’ moment would come to me on how best to break the news to you without devastating you. Some people hate your mother and I, and by extension that means they also hate you too.
It’s not your fault they hate you, you didn’t do anything wrong. To use the word hate when talking about you makes me so sad. You are perfection, and I can’t understand how anyone could look at you and think otherwise. I feel a searing pain in my chest when I think too hard about it. If I thought too hard about it I don’t know that I would ever feel OK again. So I push it to the back of my mind, so I can function without it tearing me apart.
Some people in this world, millions perhaps hate your mother and I because we are gay. It probably seems silly to you, why anyone would feel that way. Mummy and I are so much fun to be around, we make your favourite foods, read your favourite books and we dance around to your favourite songs with you and have so much fun together. I know it must be confusing to you to know that people who have never met our family feel that way. Maybe you think if they could just meet us and see that we are good people that their feelings would change. I often think that to myself. I wonder if these people were to see us in person how they could ignore the love that fills our home. I wonder if they could look into your smiling beautiful face and hear your endless laughter that fills our home, and still argue that we aren’t good parents by virtue of our sexuality alone.
Some days I am so sure that if the people who don’t know us but so adamantly despise us could just step into our home for an hour that they would be changed forever. The love in our home is so evident and so overwhelming that I can barely understand how someone could come away from it thinking anything other than what we have is something special, something beautiful, something to aspire to. Our family’s love feels infectious, and a part of me is in disbelief thinking anyone could be around it and fail to see it. I just don’t understand. I don’t expect you to understand either.
I know underneath the optimistic innocence that lives inside me that there are many people who could come into our home, bare witness to our love and still feel the same level of disgust and hatred towards us. I often wonder what breeds this sort of hate inside a person. Too much of my time is spent trying to piece together a reasonable explanation for it. I can’t.
Some people who hate us will argue that they care about the ‘damage’ being done to children by parents such as us. Do not be mislead into believing the false pretenses that these people actually care for you my darling. They reference statistics from studies conducted by organisations who had their own hateful agenda. The skew the facts and data to tell them what they want, and ignore the many other studies that tell us you’re fine, you’re better than fine even.
Of all the harm done to our children due to their parent’s sexuality, I would say the vast majority of it comes from people who claim to care so much about the children’s welfare. The toxicity they so eagerly inject into our lives and into our children’s lives is damaging. Spitting on us in the street, calling us fucking dykes as we push the pram with our infant daughter in it, throwing things at us from cars, accosting us with pamphlets telling us that we will be going to hell. All for just loving each other. How can something as wonderfully beautiful as the love in our family be twisted into something so repugnant?
Though those people may not be the majority they have mighty loud voices. The government wants to hold a public vote to let these people have their say. I don’t know why they think it’s so important that these people; whose hatred seeps from their every pore; have an even larger publicly funded platform to spew their hate from. I do not insert myself into their lives and homes to fill the ones they love with bitterness and hate. Why do they feel the need to do it to us? It was bad enough before a plebiscite came along trying to protect ourselves from it.
Over the years my delicate skin hardened to armour as I learnt to let spiteful words on the TV, in my letterbox, on the internet and shouted at us out of cars driving by bounce off my surface. It’s just a part of life I tell myself. I can manage. At least things are better than they were for the last generation. No one spat on us this time. The people calling us fucking dykes didn’t stop their car and come after us. We have come a long way I rationalise. Think of all the rights and support we have now that we didn’t before.
For me until recently thinking that way has always seemed enough to keep the despair at bay. For the most part I can turn those vengeful poisonous voices into white noise. It’s white noise until it becomes so loud that I can’t go a day without hearing about the plebiscite and those chomping at the bit to fill the air we breathe with their hate. It’s white noise until 49 people get gunned down at a nightclub all because they just wanted to dance. Did I ever tell you my daughter, that your mother and I met at a gay club all those years ago?
I don’t know if the volume got turned up lately, or the noise just seems louder now I have you to think about. I can shrug off another insult from another stranger. I can read another news article stating that we are less than human, another pamphlet in our mailbox telling us we will go to hell, another keying of our car. I can handle all of that with this armour that I built over the years. For all the ugliness we may face because of who we love, I live a life filled with joy a thousand times greater than any sadness those experiences can incite. I never forget or overlook this joy, it keeps me sane. Every day I cry, but not because of sadness. I cry with joy each day as I watch you grow and feel a gratitude deep within my soul for the life I share with you and your mother.
But then I think about you. Your tiny little hands and feet, your innocence and trust, your all consuming joy for parts of life I previously thought mundane. Can you handle it I wonder? Can you find a way as you grow to turn the hate that comes your way into nothing more than white noise, chinks in your armour? You shouldn’t have to I tell myself, it isn’t fair on you to have to learn to live that way. I want an easy life for you, I don’t want to teach you to build a wall around yourself. It doesn’t matter what I want though, it doesn’t change the reality we are stuck with.
Listen to Mia Freedman, Kate de Brito and Monique Bowley discuss the plebiscite on Mamamia Outloud.
I can’t stop people we have never met from hating us, as much as I would like to now more than ever. I can’t keep you wrapped up forever in my arms in our home away from things and people who may cause you pain. I can’t preserve your innocence. I know the day will come where I watch your confused little face as I explain to you (in a gentler way than I have done here) that some people hate our family.
I have to focus on what I can do to help you exist in this world, to preserve as much of your happiness and hope as possible. I will help to build your strength and resilience. I will help to build up an armour that helps protect you. I will pour every last ounce of love, strength, hope, resilience, patience, humour, joy, kindness and compassion I have into you.
Your life will be so full of love and support and stability, and I promise I will give all I have to keep the outside from getting in and hurting you. Your heart will be so full of love there will be no room for the hate to take hold. I will take off all my armour and give it to you. Your other mum will do the same. We will build a wall around you, but we will make sure it is one made of love.
One day when you are old enough and strong enough you will have your own armour. I hope that we are able to teach you how to exist in this world that isn’t always kind. I hope I can find within me the strength I need to impart to you to get you through unscathed. I know in my heart that my love for you is bigger than all the poison from all the people who hate us combined. My love for you is bigger. My love for you will always win.