When my mom found out I’m a lesbian — against my wishes — the first thing she said to me was, “You know I still love you, right?”
In the moment, this was a relief to hear because I honestly wasn’t sure how she’d react when she inevitably found out. She’s a devout Catholic and has made her views on LGBTQ people known in the past. It wasn’t exactly encouraging for me to hear as her closeted daughter.
As much of a relief as this statement was, I’ve come to realize that her love isn’t enough. I know she loves me, and I love her, but she doesn’t accept me.
There’s a difference between love and acceptance. Love certainly seems stronger, but in this case, acceptance is what I really want.
My mom loves me, but she doesn’t want me to ever be in a relationship with another woman.
My mom loves me, but she hopes this is a phase and that I’ll end up with a man.
My mom loves me, but she never even tries to be okay with who I love. Most of the time, she pretends the one conversation we had about my sexuality never happened. We don’t ever address it.
LGBTQ people, especially kids, need to know that they’re accepted for who they are. They need to feel supported in all aspects of their lives, especially in one that’s so fundamental to their identity.
It’s conflicting to know that your friends and family still love you, but they won’t accept this part of you.
It makes me feel guilty for being upset about their lack of acceptance, because at least they still love me, right? At least they haven’t shunned me completely, right? I should be grateful my parents didn’t kick me out of the house, right?
The LGBTQ community shouldn’t have to settle for a watered-down version of love. You can love someone without accepting them, but that love will never be complete. That love will never be as strong as it should be.
People will jump at the chance to say “we still love you,” but when it comes down to it, love just isn’t enough if acceptance doesn’t come along with it.
Maybe cishet people don’t realize that this is something they need to work on, but it definitely is. If you’re cishet, examine the way you think about the LGBTQ people in your life that you love:
Do you also accept them? When it comes down to it, will you genuinely support them when you see them living as their true selves? Or will you look away and secretly hope this is just a phase?
Love is a beautiful thing when it’s complete. So let’s all make sure we’re committed to acceptance along with that love.