SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2011       Personal Memory Ethnographies


My Choice of 'Sin'

Difference is something that most children and some young adults in our present-day society do not have a truthful understanding of or realize how much of a role it actually plays in everything around them. However, each and every adult can look back at their own personal history and pinpoint the exact time in which difference became an overwhelming factor in their own social environment. From that defining point in their past they are able to observe this thing called ‘difference’ and the influence it has on how they perceive their social environment and how they too are perceived in other social environments. For myself, I have had many close encounters with difference in my life. I remember at a young age when I was forced into the realization of difference between my friends and I due to none other than the social status of our parent’s income levels. While in higher education I was again forced into a realization of difference when I became conscious of the privilege I experienced to my own personal advantage due to nothing but my skin color. Nevertheless, there was a time in my life that no time will ever erase where my encounter with difference was not just a saddening yet passing realization, but a force field that would change the whole context of my life.

We were just friends, Beth and I, the very best kind of friends though. All through our first years of college we were the type of friends you share everything with, even your deepest and darkest secrets. Nothing and no one could stand in our way and very few even tried. Some told us we ‘were twins separated at birth’ or said that we ‘were literally joined at the hip.’ But none of that mattered to us as we were on cloud nine and it seemed as though nothing would ever bring us down. That is, until our relationship became what some might call ‘different.’ You see Beth and I got closer over time and became more physical. Neither of us knew why or how or when it really happened, but both of us felt the attraction gravitating our simple relationship into something more than friendship could define.
At first oblivion was not far away and amidst our confusion we still enjoyed all the joy and happiness of our lives. But it seemed that the closer we became in our relationship the more estranged our friends and loved ones became. Still new to us, we did not define this relationship by terms such as ‘girlfriend’ or ‘lesbian,’ but we had already come to know the prejudice and hurt that others had more than often felt because of those very labels.

Part of a very religious environment and social group, Beth and I decided soon after we arrived at the conclusion that we were much more than friends, that we would keep this as our secret until further notice. This might have worked, but there are always outside factors that are never initially factored in to such plans. A roommate, through a series of confrontations and a web of lies, became the working factor in the demise of what seemed like a perfect life. Spreading half-truths and unveiling our secret with individuals inside and out of our social circle, our ex-friend gave us no options. She confronted our parents and the elders of our churches without our knowledge, creating turmoil for us. Outed by someone we trusted, within a week’s time our life crumbled before our eyes. At first there was one, then a few, suddenly we had a house full of people and all I knew is that I looked like crap. They said they wanted to ‘help’ and offer up prayers for us, but their words were harsh. Those who we thought were our friends were suddenly hostile being in our home.

Beth and I lost so many friends it was hard to count, and the few that didn’t run away screaming treated us with an Otherness that was almost too hard to bear. When our families found out they too were devastated. Beth’s family, of high social status, worried of the ramifications a lesbian relationship would have on her life as if she would never be able to have a ‘normal’ life because of me. My family was even worse, insisting on putting a stop to ‘this’ as though they even understood what ‘this’ was or how to stop it. We were now seen as if we had the plague and there was no end to the miserable reprehension we felt from everyone around us.

The house calls and phone calls and every other call you can think of came and it almost seemed as if they would never stop. I picked up the phone or answered the door each time thinking it would be her, but each time I was disappointed because it was never the person I wanted it to be. Why wouldn’t my daughter just come home? Why wouldn’t my baby answer her phone when I called? My heart ached for her, my heart ached for me, and my heart ached for my family and what this might do.

When the elders of the church came to our home that night I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I loved my God, I loved my church, and I loved the elders that had been appointed to lead us, but they had never been in my home and with such grim faces. My mind swirled as they sat across from my husband and I telling us that our eldest daughter had strayed from the path of righteousness, gone down Satan’s path of sin and evil, chosen a life of homosexuality. Where did they get this information? Why was our daughter not the one to tell us this herself? What were we supposed to do?

My husband called the girl who was responsible for these rumors. Our daughter’s roommate was the one who contacted the elders in our home church here in Oregon. What she told him was both horrific and heartbreaking. She said she was left with no choice but to report the sin, and that is exactly what the elders had said when they came to our home that night. I didn’t understand what choice there was left. My daughter had gone to Texas for a missionary program, following in her father’s footsteps as a leader in the church. How could this have happened to her? How could this have happened to our family?

My baby girl finally called home and I knew then and there that it was not the end. My baby was broken and scared, but said she was not coming home. My baby cried to her father, she cried to me, but being sorry just would not cut it this time. This is more than her life, more than my life, more than the lives of our family; this was her eternal life she was meddling with.

Unhappy and alone is how Beth and I remained for quite some time; but time goes by and people so often forget. The hurt and ache that had formed in our hearts would never leave us nor would our friends and families ever look at us in the same way they once did, but we once again found happiness in the simple things as life went on as it always does.

Difference is never an easy thing to deal with, whether it is shared between friends, family, or even complete strangers. We can hate it or embrace it, but we will always come to the realization that difference is all around us. I have a blanket that I have had since I was a baby and it has been with me through everything. During our struggle my blanket warmed me in my cold, harsh environment and dried my salty tears. I still have this blanket today and it always reminds me of the strength I possess to make my own choices in life.

Looking back on the incident at which point I realized there was a difference between myself and others, I know there can be nothing bad said about the incident as a whole. The incident was divinely placed on my personal timeline for the opportune learning environment to take place and for my heart to grow as a human being when I learned of an alternative lifestyle. Although in many aspects and at many different times I was treated wrongly or as a lesser member of society because of my life choices, I am the one who can now proudly say that I was the one who grew and came out on top. It is not the same for my oppressors.

The year 2007 was a big one for me. I graduated high school at age 17 and moved 3,000 miles from home for college. It was there that I met my best friend and confidant, Beth, who introduced me to a different way of life. It was in this year that we grew closer than I had ever been with anyone in my life, so close that as our relationship evolved from a friendship into a relationship we didn’t even notice it. However, everyone else did. Neither of us looks back on our relationship of three years with any remorse or wish to take back the experiences we faced together. Each and every moment we shared together were a blessing in that without them our lives and our hearts would be invested in very different things today. Still best of friends, Beth and I see each other often and make a habit of reminiscing of the ‘good days’ and consoling each other at the memories of hurt and betrayal experienced at the hands of those who proclaimed to be our friends.

As the saying goes, time moves on. Beth and I remained roommates even when our relationship had fallen apart. Loyal friends, Beth and I rarely did anything apart, confusing our new friends who did not approve of our break up. Even when I met someone else, Beth was always there by my side giving me dating advice when I needed it. She quickly became my new partner’s best friend as well, playing video games and spending more time together than I did with him. Instead of two we now have the strength of three, which is never easily broken. As my maid-of-honor at my wedding, Beth gave a toast to my new husband and I that brought tears to her audience’s eyes. Still an integral part of my life, my heart, and my soul, Beth will always be my partner in life. Always faithful, always kind, always the person I need; Beth has stood by my side and I will always be there by her.



Homosexuality is Ruled No Longer an Illness (American Medical Assoc.)

Clinton Signs DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)

England Ends Ban on Gays in the Military

Netherlands Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Sodomy Laws

Vatican Campaigns Against Same-Sex Marriage

US President Bush makes Statement Against Same-Sex Marriage

Belgium Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Cambodian King Supports Same-Sex Marriage

Oregon County (Benton) Bans ALL Marriages Until Dispute is Resolved

US VP Says Same-Sex Marriage is an Issue of the State

Spanish Government Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Canadian Supreme Court Approves Same-Sex Marriage

South Africa Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

My Incident

Norway Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Sweden Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Mexico City, Mexico Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Iceland Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Portugal Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Argentina Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

US President Obama Overturns DOMA

USA Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

India Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Colombia Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

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