I was raised in a home with straight parents, whose friends were bi, straight, lesbian, gay and one trans couple. All were in committed relationships. Most stayed together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until parted by death.
These couples shared homes, triumphs and failures. They celebrated holidays and birthdays. They went out to dinner, to concerts, to sports events. Sometimes they chose a quiet evening at home, reading by firelight. They formed a group of friends who often gathered in my parents’ home. During good times, they relaxed and celebrated. During tough times, they united in support.
One couple gardened. Another lived at the beach and collected sea glass. A third loved antiques. Can you guess which was the gay couple? The lesbian couple? The straight couple? Does it matter?
I was 8 years old when I discovered that I was supposed to view LGBTQ+ folks and LGBTQ+ love as damaged. I remember saying to my parents, over and over, “It doesn’t make sense.” They agreed. They tried to explain ignorance and bigotry, but I became more confused.
To sort it out, I began an observational research study. For two weeks, I watched my parents’ friends — how they behaved, how they spoke, how they interacted. I asked questions: What’s your favorite color? Favorite ice cream? Favorite song? Favorite pizza? I entered my data in a yellow binder with silver glitter, using a color coded system and a new box of crayons. I pored over my results. After several days, I arrived at my conclusion: I couldn’t find one single significant difference between LGBTQ+ love and straight love.
As an adult, my perspective on many aspects of relationships has changed. I now understand that long-lasting love takes work. I now understand the extremely private, powerfully passionate piece that renews the bond again and again. I now understand that each love is a unique, complex, multi-dimensional tapestry. But the view that LGBTQ+ love is fundamentally different from straight love, that it’s somehow lesser, that it’s a distortion of “real” love – that made no sense to me as a kid, and it still doesn’t.
Back then at age 8 and today at age 59, my conclusion remains the same.
All love is created equal.
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