My mom said something to me yesterday. This was in light of a topic that had suddenly illuminated my twitter timeline and initially broken my heart. You see unawares to myself, another black lesbian had been murdered in South Africa and I knew nothing about it. I, who had made it a habit to keep abreast of all things lesbian, light or heavy, celebratory or painful that occurred in this country in the small hope that my immersion into the culture would somehow help me in my transition. I was never ready for the embarrassment I felt from my lack of knowledge that yet another Lioness had fallen. Too caught up in my life of heavy rain and small fires . I’m ashamed that it took a trending topic to lure me back into my world and give me a wet slap of a wake up call. I’m ashamed still that I haven’t gone to my usual sources to find out what actually occurred to snuff out the life of a woman who chose to live real and unfortunately died young. I am ashamed but thankful that the #homophobia hashtag started by Sly found me.
My mom has only experienced me as a lesbian for 4 months. Yes, prior to that my girlfriend and I had been visiting her monthly over weekends and even then, I suspect that for her it was merely a my-daughter-has-a-friend-over situation. I’m not saying that I hadn’t come out to my mother, no. She knew that I had fallen in love and subsequently moved in with a woman almost two years ago. My visits to her with my girlfriend were not under false pretence. It was important to me that I showed my mom that I loved my girlfriend and that we were in a normal relationship. It was important to me that we remained authentic in relation to each other because if my mom was going to acclimatise herself to something, it would need to be the purest truth. But she still didn’t see it that way, until I moved back home and was gay. The devil is in the detail I often hear and boy did satan make his rounds. A necessary evil that I am grateful for though because today my mother can say that she loves and accepts me for who I am, as is.
What she is struggling with is the having to deal with having a lesbian daughter on HER level. She says “I go to church to heal. Church makes me happy. Just the other day I asked the congregation to pray for me, and they did, although I did not tell them why”. Apparently, although she has reached the point of being able to accept my being gay on my level, she has feelings of resentment and sadness with having to deal with it on her level. Her face is that of a woman who deeply loves but is strongly resentful when she tells me of being an outcast in groups that she so seamlessly fit into before. Her friends, family and peers have begun to show signs of change in their treatment of her whether it be subtle or outlandish. Her exhaustion she says comes from guarding her back and being defensive. “I am always thinking of comebacks, readying myself emotionally and mentally for hurled words. This is no way to live. Why is your lesbianism my problem? How do I feature into it?”
I’ve stopped myself from trying to advise her on how to deal with it. I’ve wanted so many times to tell her that her peers will largely learn from her how to treat her with regards to this. Empty words really because I’m still having issues with walking hand in hand with my girlfriend at a mall without soft utterances or blatant stares. And me throwing mini tantrums over it. Sandton…Vaal Mall, anywhere. I guess it becomes better when I start not to care. I’m hoping the same lesson is revealing itself to my mom.
In the meantime, I’m grateful that my mother does not judge me for being who I am. Even though it makes her life difficult.
Being a mom is tough.