Growing up, my mother was my best friend. I was 18 when she sat me down to ask why I was pushing her away. I told her I needed independence. I needed space. I needed to step into me and I needed to do that on my own. I remember watching her grow upset, saying that I was rebelling. “Mom, I’m gay,” I told her. The statement didn’t faze her and she instantly replied: “So what, that doesn’t mean you need to push me away.”
I am a gay Millennial. Growing up, I always knew I was different, and so did she. She didn’t know I was gay but she did think I was special. My father and I always had a tumultuous relationship, and to this day, we not only clash about “my lifestyle,” but everything about me: my decision to leave the Midwest and pursue my career; my choice to study a multitude of spiritualities rather than abide by the one he raised me with; the fact that I went to college and didn’t follow in the family business; but most of all, the fact that I know that someday I am going to get married and have a family of my own—but side-by-side with a man.
The sharp division between my parents’ support of me stepping into my true self was something that put further distance between their marriage. In 2013, they separated, and to this day, I feel my father’s resentment has grown even further for me. My mother told me that because I had the courage to stand up for myself and the way that I love, she would never let someone attack me. I have continuously attempted to build an emotional bridge to him, but one thing I have learned in life is that even if you build a bridge, it takes two people to step upon it and meet in the middle. When someone isn’t willing to do that, you can’t force them to. This holiday season, my younger brothers asked if I’d be spending time at my Dad’s. I said no. And I don’t regret it.
As a Millennial, I feel like technology definitely has become instrumental in maintaining our relationships, especially through distance. Whether it’s through texting or social media, building communication with family is something that can be done much more easily. Because when it comes down to it, relationships—especially family—take maintenance and work. We all want love and acceptance, and if the people who we call home do not give that, we will push them away. This is why a friendly text, image, or video from my mother always has the power to bring me happiness. Because at the end of the day, she loves me for me. That is why I have always had the courage to live authentically.