We went over my parents' for a Pasta Nite last night, only Sharon and I shared a Papa John's pizza. Pizza is one of her favorite food--and she doesn't care much for spaghetti--and so it only seemed right that her last supper as a resident of our parents' house should at least be something she liked.
Funny, I don't remember my last supper there. But I will always remember hers.
That my sister has met someone whom she loves, someone as kind and wonderful as Kirsty, is a cause for joy for me. And I've kept this in the forefront of my thoughts these last few weeks--since word came that her visa had been approved for moving to the UK--to keep the sadness at bay that my little sister, one of my best friends, is moving to another country. That, unless the laws here change and she and Kirsty decide to move back, we might see each other in a lifetime as many times as we are used to seeing each other in a year. That I can't simply ring her anymore or shoot her an email to meet for supper at Q'Doba or any of the other number of silly things that seem to mean so much all of the sudden.
That we will no longer regularly sequester ourselves from the rest of the family to talk about writing and "gay things" and other stuff that the rest of our family simply doesn't understand.
I feel a lot of things right now. Of course: happiness. I was ecstatic to hear that she and Kirsty would be able to marry and start their life together. There is nothing quite like coming home to a person you love. I have that with Bobby, and I have always wished it for Sharon too.
Naturally, I am sad too. I am losing my sister to another country and not necessarily by her own choice. If she and Kirsty had talked and decided that living in England was better for them than living in the US, then I would not be nearly so...bitter? It is hard to describe: a grief that our family is being broken by the narrow-mindedness and bigotry of a few. A certain helplessness that this can be allowed to happen. And anger, yes, a lot of that.
If she and Kirsty had chosen to start their life in England, I would not feel this so profoundly. Because that would be their choice. As it is, they were given none.
Same-sex couples can't marry in the US. And our immigration laws are such that Kirsty would likely never be able to come over here, even if they were content to live unmarried.
On Friday, Sharon said something that really stuck with me: The laws in the US are such that--for "people like her"--no matter what, a family is being broken up. Either our immediate, blood-family or the family she has found and made with Kirsty. Ironically, the people who have made it so she cannot marry the person she loves, cannot start the family that they want, are the same groups that call themselves "pro-family." Pro-family how? By sundering any family that does not meet their narrow criteria?
Yes, a family will be left behind whether Sharon moves to England or Kirsty moves to the US. But when it is by choice, it is not so hard. When it is ordained by the narrow-minded views of a few bigots...it sounds immature to say, but that is not fair.
The other week, I saw my sister--because she is bisexual--being compared to pedophiles and people who sleep with their dogs. And the person who said this then expressed the astounded sentiment, "Oh, I would never have said that if I'd known people involved with that were around here!"
This struck me: It is unforseeable--on the LiveJournal of a person who probably has around 100 friends--that someone who is homosexual or bisexual might be around. Why? Because that is "those people," and "those people" aren't people like you and me; "those people" don't have friends and enjoy laughing over a cheap dinner somewhere and have LiveJournals and live just like normal folks, with cats and jobs and headaches and bills to pay; "those people" don't have moms and dads and sisters and brothers and friends and children who will mind hearing the person they love being compared to a child molester or who will mind that their loved one has to move across the world in order to live as the person that she is. Or live without being harassed by narrow idiots who believe that God can be confined to a rulebook written by Man. Or have their lives threatened, even, and fear for their safety in certain places for living as the people that they are.
I will admit that I supported gay rights before my sister "came out" to me, but it was a largely background issue. It was someone else's problem. I am straight; I love a man whom I can legally marry; we can hold hands in public without being assaulted or harassed; no one is trying to bar us from having or adopting children or visiting each other in the hospital or having "Beloved Husband/Wife" engraved on our headstones should one of us die. It was easy to turn away from the troubles of "those people" because I was not one of them. They were almost a myth, almost not to be believed.
I didn't know how much my life would change when Sharon invited me to dinner--just her and me--at Don Pablo's and told me that the real trouble between her and then-fiance Troy was a British girl named Kirsty, and that she was irrevocably in love.
Suddenly, I started taking those things--the comments, the laws, the abuse, the-Bible beating without a clue what the Bible even says--very personally. "Those people," it seemed, had come home--to my home. I saw what Sharon went through, emotionally and legally. No one should have to go through that, not in this supposed "modern day," just to live as the person that she is, to be with the person whom she loves.
Last week, it hit me that Sharon was going away--not for two weeks--maybe forever. I was good last night; I said goodbye, and I didn't cry. Because, truly, I'm far from sad that she met Kirsty...quite the opposite! And my own selfish feelings matter little in the light of that.
I can't pretend to know what a gay or bisexual person goes through. I am only the sister of one.
But I can tell you what the sister of such a person goes through. I can tell you that for every American who opposes same-sex marriage, every American who has ever quoted the Bible or used Jesus Christ as an excuse to hate, half of me is tempted to wish that they would learn how it feels to have someone they love scorned and driven out of her country because of the person that she is...but the other half of me wouldn't wish that upon anyone.