This is a post by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann: a mother, writer, and activist in Detroit, MI. She works for Word and World: A People’s School currently organizing a Land and Water School happening in Detroit this summer.
Sexuality is an invisible identity. We can walk around choosing not to be seen as lesbians in spaces we know would be unwelcoming. This comes with its own layers of grief and internalized homophobia. But we can hide it and we do.
Then came Isaac and now words roll off his tongue. We walk down grocery isles to the tune of “Mama! Mommy!” There is no place in the world, he would call us anything different or “choose” to hide it. And we would never want him to. There is something refreshing and freeing for us to have this child so filled with love, just name truth over and over again with no concern for funny looks or judgement. By his existence, he has called us to the important and terrifying work of confronting homophobia and refusing to be invisible.
A few weeks ago, we visited loved ones at their church, and when it came time to introduce us to their friends, without a pause they said “And that’s Isaac. He is Lydia’s son.” It’s hard to describe how something like that can feel so painful and shock you right into silence. It can trigger our own pain around religious exclusion, feelings of not being good enough, and not being loved and seen for the parents and partners that we are.
After church, in the solitary sanctuary of our car, we cry out the outrage and pain, knowing that this is the last time we can allow ourselves to be shocked into silence. Isaac is only two. He didn’t hear it. But he will. If he were a year older and someone he loves so much said that, how would he feel? And how would it feel for us not to correct it? For him to watch us make ourselves invisible and not claim him as so loved by his two parents? Being parents asks of us a new and difficult courage that names him and claims him, that calls out homophobia, that forces us to stand up for ourselves, and shows that our love, our partnership, and our family is so valuable and such a gift.
Isaac will walk into this world and experience all sorts of hurtful and painful things because of what his family looks like. But we want him to walk into this world with his head held high so proud of who he is and so confident in the love of his family. That will come only from Erinn and I holding our heads high and daring to be courageous in the face of pain and celebrating what is true.
So, next time, we stand in that church, we will be quick to say “and my son too.” Few words, but ones that make our knees shake and our hearts beat. But we will do it, because Isaac- you are so loved by so many people. You are wanted and cherished. You are courageous and fragile. You are loved by your mama and your mommy. And God is so present in our lives and our love and is walking alongside us as we hold our heads high in this messy, beautiful world.