I've Never Been Afraid of Being a Gay Mom -- Now, I'm Terrified

Amanda and Vivienne

I've never been scared of being a gay mom. Until this weekend. Now, I'm terrified. That's not something I want to admit. I want to say I'm brave. I want to say I'm strong. I want to say hate doesn't win. But here's the thing: My wife and I aren't bulletproof. Neither is our daughter.

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On Sunday morning, like so many of us, I woke up to the heartbreaking news of the Pulse massacre. I live in Los Angeles, but I grew up near Orlando. I spent hours waiting to hear about loved ones. Then on Sunday afternoon, another jolt: A man was caught on his way to LA Pride with weapons and explosives. Where my wife and I had been the day before -- with our 16-month-old daughter.

He was arrested and his motives aren't clear, but all I can think about is what could have happened if he had not been caught, or if he had come a day earlier. 

A man could have murdered my toddler just because she has two moms.

There aren't words for the way that makes my heart ache. There shouldn't be. It's a reminder of something I don't want to know.

Being lesbian in Los Angeles is a bit like living in a bubble. People are more inclined to judge the kind of snacks we give our toddler than our same-sex relationship. (Organic, vegan, gluten-free water, obviously.) Sure, I've been hit with occasional bigotry. A playground mom once stopped talking to me the second I mentioned my wife. She straight up turned and walked away. Then she found the one playground dad to hang out with just to make it clear she was NOT down for a hookup with me under the jungle gym. I had no idea taking my kid to the swings was a prelude to this type of tryst, but hey! Was it bigotry? Yes. Did it hurt my feelings? Totally. Did I feel unsafe? No.

This weekend was a gut-wrenching reminder that that's not always the case.

Amanda family

I grew up in the small town of Mt. Dora, 45 minutes north of Orlando. For this queer teen in conservative central Florida, Orlando was a rainbow beacon of hope. My friends and I spent so much time trying to sneak into the clubs as underage gaybies. We weren't successful, so this actually meant listening to music in our cars in the parking lot. But it felt like heaven. We were near OUR people. We weren't weird here. We were safe.

I'm heartbroken that's been violated. I'm heartbroken the hate got inside.

Nightclubs are fun and sexy. Gay clubs are sanctuaries. This is where we can be free to be and to love. This is where you can hit on a girl and NOT assume she is straight. This is where you can laugh and cry at the hate of the outside world. The same is true for pride events.

Mere hours before tragedy struck Orlando, my wife and I headed to West Hollywood for a bit of Pride with our toddler and a friend who was visiting us from Germany. We talked about how much fun it was going to be when our little Vivienne was a bit older and could dance and participate in the parades. How fun it would be for her to celebrate families that look like hers. We showed our friend the spot we were standing when Prop 8 was overturned, the clubs we danced in to ring in the New Year, and how even the police cars in WeHo have rainbow flags. This was our first Pride with our young child, our safe and sacred space.

I don't know when I will stop crying or when I will feel safe again.

And I don't know what to do.

new baby

I want to go out and dance in solidarity. I want to protest. I want to fight. I want to show them that we are stronger and braver than hate, but I also want to be around to raise my daughter. I want to keep her safe. Mostly I want to believe that if we write to our representatives, that if we speak with our votes, we might actually do something about guns. I wish I were more hopeful. I wish I could hug every mother of every beautiful child murdered in Orlando. I wish I could give them their own babies back.

I'm lucky. My loved ones are safe. My childhood friend who sometimes performs at Pulse as a drag queen was away on tour. The kids I babysat as a teen decided not to go there that night. My family is lucky. But my community is in pain. So hug your LGBTQ friends a little tighter, give your kids an extra squeeze, and please, call your mom ... she's probably dealing with her own fears right now, and wishing for a world so much safer and brighter for you. Just like I wish for my own daughter.

 

Images via Amanda Deibert

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