I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian

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June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

Years ago when my new gas range wasn’t working properly, I called a repairman to come fix it. He arrived at lunchtime while I was eating a beautiful salad I had just prepared for myself. I stayed put, thinking he’d get the repair done quickly and be out of my way. He seemed very nice at first, but it was an election year. He began ranting about people on the left and about certain deranged people who think they should have special rights to marry other people of the same sex.

My stomach went sour. Steam started coming out from my ears. Trying to be halfway decent, I told him that I didn’t discuss politics while I was eating and to please stop the discussion. He continued his tirade. I stood up and told him that my daughter was a lesbian and that his comments were not appreciated or appropriate in my home. I said, “Please stop talking and do your work, or leave.” He got quiet, mumbling to himself as he finished up the repair. When he was done, he snapped, “Well I guess I won’t be asked to come and fix your stove again!” My reply was,“You Betcha! Now tell me how much I owe you for the repair and get out of my house.”

To say that I was angry would be an understatement. I was crimson with rage. Hot tears streamed down my face, and I began my own rant to my husband, Bill, a member of the same choirI belong to, who was agreeing with me all the way.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision to give marriage rights to all gays and lesbians no matter what state they live in was a landmark decision that will join the ranks of others: Giving women the right to vote, giving African Americans the right to vote, Roe vs. Wade, and so many others.

I’m proud to say that my daughter is a lesbian, a member of a community filled with love, and has been sticking it out to fight for her rights. I’m even more proud that our country is standing up for and offering support to her and her brothers and sisters.

In the wake of all landmark decisions there are always disagreements and nay sayers who can make the climate uncomfortable and even dangerous. Those who don’t agree with big changes do have a right to disagree and protest, just as the gay and lesbian community had the same rights to protest their treatment.

However, it does not give anyone the right to be hateful. I allow myself to listen and discuss just about anything, but only if hatred is left at the door and tolerance fills the room where we talk.

Have you seen those bumper stickers on the back bumpers of cars saying: “I’m A Proud Parent of an Honor Roll Student at Such and Such High School?”

Well, I have a new one I’d like to get printed out and put on my back bumper:

“I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian.”


  1. Love is love Joan – no matter what color, gender or species!
    … Although he did sound like a cockroach. (No offense to cockroaches)

    • Joan Rough says:

      Val, thanks. All there is is Love! And I pray that those who hate will learn that it doesn’t help them live a good life.

  2. As an abused and neglected child, I am now, at 62, just beginning to understand how any emotional situation can trigger anger that is disproportionate to the situation. Given that your anger led to tears, this incident may have triggered something in you that went much deeper than a repairman’s opionions on same-sex marriage.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Rachel, thanks for your comment and for stopping by. You have a good point, and as an abused child myself, I hear you. However, I believe that those not affected by past trauma would have reacted in the same way if they were attacked in there own homes. I have no problem dealing with the nay sayers in any other venue. But when my home, a sacred space, is invaded in such a way, I will be angry and make sure everyone knows it.

  3. Joan — I agree with Val, “Love is love.”

    I agree with what you said, “…but only if hatred is left at the door and tolerance fills the room where we talk.” But I’d make one change. Instead of “tolerance” I’d much prefer a room that’s filled with acceptance.

    • Joan Rough says:

      I’m with you, Laurie. Acceptance is a much better idea, but tolerance will do in a pinch when acceptance isn’t possible. Thanks for your support, my friend.

  4. I too was over joyed to the point of tears when the Supreme Court decision was announced. It is personal to me as well.

    That realization , and seeing polarizing languge / hate language from BOTH sides in discussions of this issue and other human rights arenas (systemic racism, for example) are moving me to search for empathy before I react. To maybe even create an opportunity to change a heart by seeing the PERSON behind the hateful words, and separating the two.

    Example, it seems that some life experiences made that repair man completely unable to imagine his words could cause pain or anger in another person. Hopefully he finds a challenge to reconsider his beliefs as he tries to understand ‘what just happened.’

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Susan. Most of the time I try to follow the rule of, “Do No Harm.” Yes, there is polarizing language on both sides and empathy is needed to change anger into understanding. But being in my own home, I felt invaded and needed to protect myself from the harm I felt was being done to me. It’s a basic human reaction. If were to walk into someone else’s home I would never behave the way that man did. If I did, I would expect to be thrown out.

      I do have empathy for most everyone. I’ve worked hard on developing compassion and forgiveness over the last years as I’ve worked on my book. But to me this was a home invasion without physical violence. It was an invasion of words in my private space that I was not expecting.

      • I can imagine feeling very much the same way in my own home, which should be a place safe from uninvited opinions and from unkindness. I can also imagine trying, exactly as you did, to ‘warn him off’ from the inappropriate comments- and then just wanting to make it stop.

        And, at least in my family, being able to tell the story of speaking up and fighting ignorance for the love of a sibling or child are shared as love stories. I appreciated your story.

        • Joan Rough says:

          Thanks so much, Susan. I appreciate your comments and inclusion in this discussion.

  5. Nothing is more fierce than mother-love, Joan, especially when a child’s very being is at stake. I agree that love is love. You are demonstrating a primal form of it, and I salute you.

    I was very happy also with the decision last week, but I also have many relatives and some friends who were not.

    Thanks for sharing the repairman story. I hope the exchange helped him not only adjust his poor judgment in talking politics with clients but also his beliefs. Many people have changed their views on this subject. And in a much shorter time frame than social change usually takes place. On this one, the laws did a complete about turn in less than 20 years. Since your conversation occurred years ago, you can see on this video where the laws stood at the time. http://imgur.com/0jpgH3d I’m NOT excusing his behavior. It was boorish. But I have seen people change. Maybe you helped him be one of them! One can only hope.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Shirley. I do see myself as a mother grizzly bear when it comes to my children. Grrrrrr!! And I imagine that most mothers feel the same way.

      This segment of social change has happened in a heartbeat and many people need time to absorb the meaning of it all. Yes, people can change and for all I know that man may have. If we had been out on a street corner, I might have tried to talk with him. If he was not up for that I would have simply walked away, not feeling as I did in my own home.

      Change is a big deal and most people don’t deal with it very well.

  6. Joan, I am celebrating love and the right to be happy for everyone. Mr plumber-guy was totally out of line and crude. We all have the right to our opinion but not the right to spew hatred and expect others to follow suit and in your own home,no less. In the end, love is what matters and we can only hope that tolerance and acceptance will become the rule not the exception. Thank you for sharing and for standing up for love and acceptance

    • Joan Rough says:

      Kathy, I celebrate love and the right to be happy, too. And I believe in being positive at all costs. I accept those around me who do not share my views and only ask that they do the same and do no harm to anyone else especially when it comes to race and gender. We are all connected and need each other to build a strong and healthy world.

  7. I have always thought my job is to love others, and leave judgment to God. Unfortuantely, I have seen vitriolic messages in the media from both sides of this sensitive issue, and I am dismayed. Tolerance and acceptance must flow both ways.

    Cliff’s sister is in a lesbian union, and we have assured her that she and her partner are always welcome in our home though we generally hold to conservative views.. Like the maternal relationship you describe so vividly, sibling connections are also strong. “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

    • Joan Rough says:

      Marian, Our job IS to love others and help each other to grow a world where our children will be safe and secure. Unfortunately, we’re not doing such a great job. But I do believe that things are changing before our eyes, and hope that someday, we’ll be able to see love and acceptance mend our mistakes.

  8. My grandmother’s favorite saying was always “Live and let live.” If we could only remember to mind our own lives and resolve to treat others as we would wish to be treated, the world would be such a more peaceful place.

    I am happy for your daughter and her partner, and for all those couples who are in committed relationships and can now be legally acknowledged. We need more laws that ultimately result in bringing people together, not those that encourage divisiveness and disharmony.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Becca, The world you describe is what I hope for. Unfortunately, in recent years divisiveness has invaded the world and our country. Sometimes I think that if we could all sing and play music together we’d learn to love one another for the role each of us has in making this a peaceful world.

  9. Well done and well said, Joan. Good post! 🙂

  10. Joan, We have a guest blog post up this week at the Women’s Writing by the author of a memoir who wrote how cruel people can be to those who are “different.” Thank you for sharing the story of your daughter. I have mixed feelings about marriage – in general, regardless of gender. I always felt that marriage was an institution created by men for men at the expense of women. Thankfully,. I had a wonderful marriage, but after he died and as the years went on, marriage became less and less appealing to me as a woman who had grown comfortable with being single. But, as my mother used to say, “everyone should try marriage once.” And now they can. Here’s the link to Rae’s post on her memoir, “Leaving Normal, Adventures in Gender.”

  11. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks so much for your comment, Susan, and also for sending me the link to your post about Rae Theodore’s memoir. It is shameful that so many people are cruel to those who don’t fit the mold.

    I totally understand your mixed feelings about marriage of any kind. I’ve always said that should something happen to my husband, I’d never remarry. Bill puts up with all my quirks and I don’t believe any once could. I feel I’ve got a real gem and wouldn’t trade him for anything.

    • Thanks, Joan. My feelings about marriage . . I reiterate it was an institution set up by men to benefit men at the expense of women. I feel that marriage is a dying institution. An outgrowth of the patriarchy. Divorce, remarriage, divorce . . . it’s the norm. I don’t believe in that. Anyway, if one can find true love, then whether they are LGBT or straight, it doesn’t matter . . . that’s what it’s all about. It’s marriage as an institution we should be discussing, not gender . .. But that’s even more threatening to people.

  12. Joan Rough says:

    I’m afraid it would be, but oh, what a great discussion it could be.