We live in modern times and supposedly this means we have modern values. Right? Wrong. Especially when it comes to the rights and acknowledgement of same sex couples. Recently at a dinner party somebody commented that they didn’t quite comprehend how two women could have a child. The whole concept of one being more of the “male” character and one the more “female” role perplexed them. As I sat listening to this person I was overwhelmed with frustration. How on earth could I help this person understand how simplistic, limited and wrong their view was? What worried me even more was that I thought we were in a new age; an age where we saw past the “old fashioned” ignorant views of how love could only exist between a man and a woman. I mean, come on – have we made no progress?
A few days later I continued to feel angry at how people ignorantly discriminate against same sex couples. We are known to shy away from what we know little about, “birds of a feather flock together” – anybody who is different is quite suspicious. Nowadays, we form a more open and embracing society. We have far to go, however, until we form a society that is accepting of love between two individuals of the same sex. Continuing to mull over how backward some people are I had dinner with two friends who coincidentally are in fact a same sex couple.
Meet Rubi and Sally.
Rubi is 37 years old and an Architect. Sally is 38 years old and completing her Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine. They live in Los Angeles and they are the most loving couple I have ever met.
The dinner consisted of scrumptious tacos de pollo at our common friend’s Elsita’s house. As we chatted away, randomly breaking into dance to a song playing in the background, we all watched as Sally delicately prepared the tacos. “You have to fold the tortilla the other way…” corrected Elsita with a slight giggle. Sally started at us all with a smile and furrowed brow. (Too many cooks in the kitchen) As we started to eat the most delicious tacos I have ever had I started to ask all about Rubi and Sally’s love story and more…
It all started ten years ago when Sally and Ruby crossed paths in Italy. They have been married for three years. Their love evolved as they became closer as friends. I couldn’t help but ask when they knew that this was going to be their life partner “I knew the moment we got together” tells Rubi, “ I already knew her as my best friend and as a human being she had all the qualities I would hope to find in the person that would be in my life”. As Rubi adjusted her glasses and smiled with her eyes at Sally, Sally proceeded to tell me that she knew it was Rubi the moment she realized they had this amazing connection. “ We were very good friends before we began a relationship but Rubi was always one of those few people that I knew would not hesitate to be there for me if I ever needed her. I knew she was special. As our relationship grew, I knew that this was the person of my life.”
These two wonderful women form the most beautiful union I have ever seen. When I am in their company I honestly feel the love they have for one another, it is tangible and glorious to be around. With so many dysfunctional relationships going on should we not be focusing on encouraging those where there is an abundance of love rather than focus on whether the couples are of the same sex or not?
As we continued to eat (truly my mouth is watering as I remember the crunch of the tacos, with queso fresco and salsita…) I started to vent about how ridiculously small minded some people are. Rubi and Sally comforted me with their great insight into this discrimination. As I listened to Rubi and Sally explain how they felt defining themselves as a “lesbian” couple was unnecessary, how they felt their love was all that truly counted – I reflected upon our compulsive human need to label and categorize. It is evident that it is often misplaced and can lead to hurtful and near sighted behavior. What moved me during our talk was the calm and open manner in which Rubi and Sally tackled what I imagined would be a difficult conversation. If someone tried to label me I may get defensive and lash out, it’s normal right? Especially if it is repetitive, it gets downright tiring. Of course practice makes perfect – it has not been easy for this couple, nor any couple who reaches out and tells their family and friends that they are in love with somebody of the same sex.
Sally and Rubi are planning on having a baby sometime in the near future. They explained to me how they are considering conceiving with a donor but have also considered adopting. As they sat side by side with subtle smiles appearing at the corners of their mouths at the thought of a baby, they explained how they chose who would be the carrier of the baby. “I want to be a parent with Sally but I don’t envision myself carrying a child” said Rubi, “I can’t anyway due to a partial hysterectomy but even if I could I would not carry one”. The one to carry their baby will be Sally. “I have always wanted to be a mother and would love to experience being pregnant and carrying a child,” said Sally smiling, “from the beginning we knew it would be me and if not, we would adopt.”
As we continued to talk I started to wonder whether there are different things same sex couples worry about than straight couples (I can’t write different sex – it sounds rather odd). “Yes of course,” answered Rubi, “Straight parents do not have to explain to their child why others may want to harass them because they have two parents of the same sex. Sally quickly added, “I think there are always things to worry about being a parent but I am aware that we will have our own set of issues to deal with. My hope is that our child will be surrounded by children who come from open- minded parents that have an understanding of the different types of families that may exist. That being said… I know they will be asked questions and may even encounter kids that can be cruel and make them feel that they don’t belong. It will all be due to the fact that he or she will have two parents of the same sex. So this is something that most parents don’t have to deal with….”
And then. I had to ask….
Me: “ What do you say to those that insist gay parents will influence their child to be gay?”
Rubi: “What do I say? That they are ignorant. Being gay means people looking at you differently because of your sexual orientation. It means being judged by some people and religions because of it. It means the store attendant possibly being rude to you because you look “gay”, it means being rejected in many cases. Why would I want my child to go through that? I’m not going to influence my child to “be gay” and feel the same discrimination that I may have experienced. I don’t think any parent would want that whether they are gay or straight. My straight parents promoted being “straight” whatever that means and obviously it is not about what your parents represent it is about what you feel inside.”
Sally: “Saying that we would influence our child to be gay is just not true. We are a couple that loves each other and we want to have a loving family where we teach our child to be a compassionate, kind and a good human being. Parents do have a strong influence over their children but that doesn’t mean you will influence a child on their sexual preference. I just want my child to be happy and I will be happy with whatever they choose to be, gay or straight.”
Rubi and Sally are prepared for some difficult times ahead. They know that their child will face some challenges that other children won’t have to face. The greatest difficulty will be dealing with other people’s prejudice. “I do hope, however, that our child will have learned from us that there are people out there who choose not to understand and not to love people that are “different” than them,” said Rubi. She quickly added, ”… and there are a lot of people that fall into that category. That’s not only a sentiment against gay people, but people of other races and religions as well.” Sally then said, “Unfortunately there are a lot of ignorant people out there who probably grew up with parents that did not teach them to love everyone and accept people as they are.” We all agreed that as parents of a new generation it is our responsibility to teach or children tolerance, to shun narrow mindedness and accept people for who they are.
It is clear that Sally and Rubi will be fantastic parents and their child will be lucky to have such loving parents. Their child, however, will wonder why they have two mommies and others don’t – I asked them how they intend to explain the difference between being homosexual and heterosexual. For Sally it is simple, there is no difference between being gay or not. “You are a human being, period. The fact that you choose to love someone that is of the same sex doesn’t make you any different than someone who chooses to love someone of the opposite sex. Love is love and however you want to express that, is up to each individual person.” As we sat around sipping our beers Rubi added ” ….. we all have the same bodily functions, we all have likes and dislikes, fears, hopes, dreams, etc. etc. Sexual orientation does not make you different than any other human being.”
Remembering what had started the conversation I asked Rubi and Sally what they would say to those who are against gay couples having children? After a big sigh Rubi looked at me square in the eyes and in a serious and noble voice said, “I would say that I understand but not condone their close mindedness. I hope they choose to embrace love instead of hate. I hope they take the time to get to know someone gay and they will realize gay people are no different than them and that their opinions of gay people do not come from knowledge but actually ignorance and fear.” As I turned to Sally I took a second to appreciate the wonderful conversation I was lucky enough to be having. I thought about all those who discriminate, who hate based on concepts they have been taught and I felt sorry for them. I feel sorry for whoever thinks that two women or two men can’t have a baby, can’t live a life of love, and find it “un-natural” – what a misplacement of judgment and what an erroneous intolerance at that. When it comes to other people’s views, Sally had a short and sweet message, “ I would say that it is not up to them to decide what I do with my life. I don’t interfere in others lives so no one has a right to tell me if I can or can’t have a child. That is why I’m a free human being that has the right to choose how to live my life.” Full stop.
One more beer (or, maybe … “un tequilita pa’brindar) and one last question.
Me: “What are you both most grateful for?”
Rubi: “I am grateful for having the family that I have, we are full of love for one another. …and others too…..”
Sally: “I most grateful for having Rubi in my life and for having found the perfect person for me. Many people can go an entire life searching for that special person and never find them. I can say I have found mine. I am grateful for the wonderful friends that have supported us through the years, for our families even though we have gone through some rough patches and for our beautiful doggies, Maya and Zoe that make getting home everyday so exciting!”
As I wandered home I realized that we do live in Modern Times – the important thing is to have a positive impact on the people around you. My initial reaction had been to get angry with the discriminatory remarks I had heard. As they resonated in my ears I sort of shut off, I was in shock – I didn’t know what to say. I got so angry that I became tongue tied. Now this I know, is pretty useless. Much good does it do for me to sit there brewing in anger and unable to say a word – I mustv’e looked like a kettle ready to boil! The trick is to challenge at the adequate time and in an effective manner the close mindedness of others. I learnt that I musn’t be afraid to speak my mind and to be true to my beliefs but to also keep my cool. Anger, hate – will get us nowhere – that is what people who discriminate feel. As the saying goes “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
Sally and Rubi are a unique example of love. All of us could learn a thing of two from their attitudes to life. It is simply absurd that two people cannot marry just because they are of the same sex. It is downright ridiculous and a serious problem. Sally and Rubi married prior to Proposition 8, which in 2008 banned same sex marriage in California.
I am honored to have them in my life and to be able to call them friends.
Before I sign off I want to share a video Sally and Rubi sent me of Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old University of Iowa student who spoke against House Joint Resolution 6 (against same sex marriage) in the Iowa House of Representatives. Sadly and disgustingly Resolution 6 passed. I know it was circulating on Facebook but if you haven’t see it, watch it.