A 7-hour cross-country family therapy session. That is what I have experienced today. For those of you who don’t know, I am on a road trip with my older sister across the country to help her and her family move. Check out Pt 1 for all the details.
Today was shocking on many levels. First, my married sister came out to me… as a Republican. After drying my tears and uncurling from the fetal position, I tried to convince her that it was just a phase she was going through. I then tried to find out if something I had done had caused her to turn out this way. I ended up telling her that regardless of her life choice, I loved her. It may not be the life I would choose for her, but I would work hard to understand her choices (and pray for her).
It was out first real day on the road. My sister’s husband was driving the moving truck, so it was just she, her 6-month-old baby, and I in the car. She is a self-described “Conservative Christian” and we have had our issues with my gayness (one of her favorite words) in the past, but have since moved past them. Or so I thought…
Our drive from Idaho to Montana (the first pit-stop on this leg of the race) quickly turned into a deep, honest, and surprisingly enlightening discussion on our childhood, past problems, and current lives. We had an amazingly frank discussion, with the simple ground rules that neither of us would get offended or angry.
The ensuing talk really was amazing. We talked about her religious views, which turned out to be surprisingly inclusive. We talked about why I had gotten so involved in LGBT rights. My sister admitted she really didn’t know exactly what “transgender” meant (she thought it was another term for drag queen). I told her how my partner and I had to travel with a stack of legal documents in case something happened to one of us and we needed to make medical decisions for one another. She asked me if I was born gay and when I knew (the playing with Barbie-Dolls and designing clothes for her Cabbage Patch Kids were “uh, duh” moments).
Perhaps the most serious and moving discussion came when she asked if my partner and I would take her baby if something happened to her and her husband. I of course said yes, but told her that we would have to move out of Florida to do so, since gays cannot adopt in the state. She looked surprised and said, “Even if it is our wish, in our wills? The state can say no to that?” The sad answer was yes. Florida knows better than her what is in the best interest of her baby. That really seemed to hit home and open her eyes on just how ridiculous the discrimination against LGBT people is.
This trip is truly turning into a life- and relationship-changing experience. As we said good night at our little Montana hotel, she hugged me and said how thankful she was for this chance to truly get to truly know me and my life. As I went to bed, with the cows gently mooing in the background and her words in my ears, I realized that there was no other place I would rather be in the world. I actually look forward to what our talks tomorrow will bring…