Conversations from the Heart: Aaron and Grandma
October 6, 2009
“Conversations from the Heart” is a series of blog posts leading up to National Coming Out Day featuring HRC staff sharing conversations that have impacted their lives. With 5 days until October 11, Aaron Teskey, youth & campus outreach coordinator, kicks off the series. After watching HRC’s Conversations from the Heart videos for National Coming Out Day, I kept thinking back on the conversation between the mother and son. While I’m lucky to have a mom who loves and supports me for who I am, this particular video brought me back to a letter I received from my grandma around June 15, 2006 (I still have the postmarked envelope). Without fail, my grandma always sends me cards for holidays and major occasions. And, without fail, they always brighten my day. I did not realize the significance of this particular day at first, but it turned out to be a major occasion of sorts as well. The front of the card featured a caricature of a bear asking “Need a hug?” Inside, it simply stated “I’m here whenever you need me” and had a folded, typed letter (a skill I taught my grandma). She opened the letter with “my precious grandson” and went on to explain that my mom had told her I was gay and that she didn’t want there to be any ambiguity about how she felt. My grandma continued by saying that “a grandmother’s love is and always will be unconditional” and telling me about the gay friends she has had over the years (which, like the son in the video, was news to me). Here’s the last paragraph from her letter:
Always remember, you and your friends (male or female) will always be welcome in my home and with me. I am proud of your acceptance and wish I could give you a life without adversities. I have a definite feeling that you will admirably handle anything that comes your way in the future. Be you. Be the very best you. It will be the best gift you can give yourself and your family. And remember to always share the good and bad in life with us, for only then will you see that you have a source of strength beyond your own. I am here for you if you ever need me.
It meant the world to hear my grandma say that my being gay made no difference to her and she will always be there for me. I have kept that letter as a source of strength and a reminder of my grandma’s love as I moved between home and college and then on to living 1000+ miles away from her. And, technically, she did not even say it – she wrote it. That’s why the tagline of these videos – a simple conversation can change the lives of people you care about – really resonates with me. A conversation doesn’t have to be an in-person exchange. But, unless you start some type of dialog – whether it is in-person or through a letter, an email, a t-shirt, a tweet or your Facebook status – the queer or questioning person in your life might not know you support equality and will always be there for them. Your neighbor might not know that your gay grandson could be fired from his job simply because of who he is. Your fellow student might not know the impact saying “that’s so gay” has on your friend. If not for all of my friends and family who love and support me – including my grandma – I certainly would not have the courage to be write this blog post or proclaim that I’m proud of who I am via my Facebook status. I am incredibly thankful to have so many people stand by me as we work towards a time when everyone is treated equally. If you have not done so already, check out the Conversations from the Heart videos, ‘donate’ your Facebook status for National Coming Out Day and share a story about your own conversation from the heart.
Issues: Coming Out
May 20, 2013