Our niece came to visit us this week. She’s a typical teen, going through lots of changes and discovering herself, questioning everything. Like many of us, her most important discoveries of self don’t fit in well with her traditional Christian upbringing. It’s scary to realize your truest self isn’t what your family expected or may ever accept.
Sandy and I do our best to be an open, honest support system for all the kids in our family, but this girl is special because she’s different. She needs a counterbalance to the negativity and soul-suppression inflicted by well-meaning parents and family members oblivious to the pain their hypocrisy and judgment causes. We know because we’ve lived it, too.
So, we decided to take her on an adventure to New York City. Part of her Christmas gift last year was Roberta Roberti’s cookbook, World Party, and she was gracious enough to meet us for dinner. Our buddy, Cole and her wife, Jeanette, opened their home to us, allowing us the added benefit of a home base for the adventure. (Thanks, Roberta & Cole!) On top of all that happiness, we ran into Andi chillin’ in NYC!
From the first night’s dinner, and throughout the weekend, I realized the greatest lesson our niece received was the example of loving, happy, well-adjusted lesbian couples living full lives. I watched her, wide-eyed with wonder as we walked through the Village. We took photos in front of The Stonewall Inn, bought crystals at a gem shop, ate at a fabulous gay-owned restaurant, browsed bookstores, enjoyed a delectable treat at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and OMG Hamilton! She was a sponge taking it all in and documenting the highlights with her nifty new Polaroid camera to capture the magic forever.
Without any fanfare, big political statements or declarations, she saw what is possible. I watched her respond and open up, sharing her thoughts with people who really listened to her. She talked cooking with Rg, giggled at Andi’s infectious fun, experienced Cole’s music and Jeanette’s knowledge of spirit and crystals. In short, she was surrounded by intellect and positive energy that every kid deserves—especially the different.
I have no idea who our niece will become. I do know she’s smart and articulate and fierce and beautiful. Right now, she’s in the “Q” column of LGBTQ status, and that’s perfect. My hope is only that she understands from us, and now our friends/family of choice, that she is fine just the way she is. What’s important isn’t who she loves or how she loves, only that she loves.
New York City gave her validation and inspiration. New York will always remind her of what is possible. For that gift, I’ll always be grateful to our great friends, and I’ll always love New York.