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Initiate a Difficult Conversation

20 October 2009 No Comment

Level: Personal — Pillar: Conflict Transformation

This week’s featured story came in from Ottawa, Canada:

When I was 11 years old I asked my mother if she was gay. At the time my mother was still married to my father. I don’t really know where the question came from but it was one that shifted the course of my life. And it was a question that set me on the course of having many both difficult and wonderful conversations.

As a child in a small rural town where I was related to the neighbors on both sides of our house, having a gay mom was like being from the moon. There were many people who were happy to tell me that my mom was a horrible person. The same people told my mother that she was ruining her children’s lives.

As an adult, there have been innumerable times when I have mentioned in casual conversation that I have two moms and watched as the person I am speaking to releases physical tension and grins. Sometimes, realizing that they have found themselves in a safe space, the person hugs me.

It saddens me that we live in a world where so many people live in fear of sharing the wholeness of themselves with others. As difficult as it was when my mother came out, and when I later came out, we did not have to deal with physical violence. As the queer child of a gay mother, and as someone who works for human rights and global justice, I am very aware of how lucky I am to live in Canada. Under the law in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – and in parts of Nigeria and Somalia – homosexual acts are punishable by death.

This week, do what you can to initiate a difficult conversation. Tell your story; tell mine. Learn more about gay, lesbian and transgender issues around the world (see websites below). Come out as a supporter of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. We need to have the difficult conversations that will move the discussions about gay rights away from the religious/moral debates to ones of human rights.

Lisa Nafziger
Ottawa, Canada

Please use the comments section to share your experience initiating a difficult conversation.

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