You’re all disappointed in me, I know. Those summer cookouts where you’d all play, asking if I had a little girlfriend, seem so poisonous now. It hurts because I was always told what was expected of me, and it hurts because I didn’t have the courage to stand up for who I was when I didn’t even know yet.

My uncle, wherever he is now, is praying for me. Reminding me that we are born into sin, of sin; but somehow you can’t be born anything but straight. As if his past means nothing and his present evangelical life gives him permission to label his own nephew.

Tell me what that says about you.

My cousin, wherever she is now, is planning her wedding. Weddings in our family are always normal and straight. That’s what her’s will be, but we still hear your voices in the background asking ‘why does she let that Thing take away from her day?’ As if her gay bridesmaid can’t wear a dress and heels because he feels beautiful in them. As if he’s the one taking attention from the bride. As if your beady eyes cannot look away, simply because he is comfortable with who he is.

Tell me what that says about you. 

My grandfather, wherever he is now, is still in the dark. He’s impressed until the next grandchild steers off the path and then it’s a grunt and a shake of the head and he’s done.  Do you forget that we are not perfect? Do you forget that we are not you? I wonder how he feels– how he will feel– if he ever knew about me. Grandma says she’s scared to tell him, and I won’t accept that that is okay.

Tell me what that says about you.

My brother, wherever he is now, is recovering from an explosion. But no matter the pain and the fear and the surgery, he still raised his voice for me. In the hospital bed, singed and shaking, he reminded someone that I had just as much right to marry my boyfriend as he did his girlfriend.

Tell me what that says about you.

My aunt, wherever she is now, is sighing because everyone always expected me to be with a girl. Underlying disappointment is never hidden when it’s covered with a breath of hot air. As if being myself is a letdown.

Tell me what that says about you.

I am me. And to say you were surprised when my mother told you I had a boyfriend would be a lie. There were signs, and perhaps that’s the reason so many expectations were burned into me. You were afraid I’d be different because different is hard. Or maybe you were afraid that the little boy you loved so much could shake the grounds of your beliefs.

If it means anything to you, I am the happiest I have ever been. Not just because I have someone by my side, but because I am finally, fully, and freely Me.

I want you here. I want you to still be my family. I want you to accept me and everyone else that’s a little bit different than you are. That’s not too much to ask.

I love you. I accept you.

All my love,

Me