The Experience That Changed My Perspective On Life
The experience that changed my perspective on diversity happened when I was 10 years old. Even though this experience was nine years ago, it will stick with me for the rest of my life.
My Aunt Karen had come over for our usual family dinner on Friday night. She walked through the door with a worried look on her face. I looked at my niece and walked directly into the den to talk to my brother. I sat down next to him with my eyes already watering and I told him I was gay. I remember hearing my aunt sobbing loudly. I then heard footsteps coming from the den, she ran out of the den crying and said, “Even though you can’t accept me you are going to have to deal with it!”
My Father was so upset because he believed that homosexuality is a sin, “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” he would say. My Father told me that by being gay, you are betraying god and not accepting god as your savior.
We didn’t hear from my aunt for about a month, so I started asking my Father what was going on. He said, with hatred in his eyes, “You are too young to understand Jillian.” I didn’t like that answer so I went to ask my mother. She explained the birds and the bees’ story and told me that in my aunt’s case she fell in love with a woman not a man. I was only 10 then and somewhat understood the concept of homosexuality, but I did not comprehend that it was necessarily wrong, as some people say. My mother was also worried about my aunt, she kept calling her, telling her to come over so we could talk about it, but my aunt was just too made at my dad for not being understanding.
Even though my brother told me he was disgusted with me and would never accept the way I live my life, I still had to show him and make him understand my viewpoint. He is my brother and I love him. I know this was affecting my sister-in-law and confusing my niece, so I had to at least try for them.
My aunt called my father one day after fighting with him for three years, and said to him, “I can’t fight anymore. I want my family who I love so much, back.” She told my Dad that she wasn’t going to change to the “norm” because he wanted her to. She said, “I am who I am and that’s it!” To my surprise he told my aunt “Okay.”
One night, with a smile from ear to ear, my aunt entered our house for the first time in three years. My niece now all grown up ran to me with open arms for a hug. With my partner next to me we heard my brother say, “I love you and welcome home.” My dad finally accepted my aunt and her partner. I don't know what changed his mind, but whatever it was, it brought our family back together.
This experience was so significant to me because it changed my way of thinking. It made me realize that it is okay to be different. Not everyone has to be the same to be accepted. You can be white, black, gay, or straight and you should be accepted based on you, not your color or your sexual preference. If you’re happy with an alternative lifestyle, the people you love should be happy for you no matter what.
Return to Personal Memory Ethnographies