A Straight Mother’s Response to Ignorance…


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I am ignorant. I’ll start there. I don’t understand all of the struggles that LGBT youths live with. I am ignorant. I don’t understand the pronouns, the labels, the pain, the complexities, that the LGBT community lives with. I am ignorant, and something has to change.

I am an ignorant, straight, white, middle-aged, resolutely gun-control-supporting woman who watches the news–– or avoids it, because my heart bleeds. I read; I try to understand, but I still feel helpless to turn the tides that seem to be sweeping us away. I am straight; I grew up in a strongly Irish Catholic community, where the word “faggot” was used regularly. I met gay men and women for the first time, in college. I considered myself “progressive” because I had gay friends, but admittedly, I saw their differences first. Naively, I thought I got it… until a close friend was thrown out of his fraternity–– all of his belongings tossed out the window, because he trusted his “brothers” and told them he was gay. I was shocked that guys I thought I knew, could treat another friend so horribly. When it comes to the transgender community, I am more informed than some, but still ignorant.

Black Lives Matter, and that does not imply that other lives do not. It’s a necessary statement because Black lives have not mattered enough; that needs to change. But I’m White, and I’ll never fully understand what it’s like to experience the daily challenges, heart breaks and inequities of being a Black American. I’m 52 years old. I see myself struggling to catch up with the “times they are a changin’,” as my kids educate me on their generation, and the things they do understand. Admittedly, sometimes I feel lost. In the wake today, of yet another mass killing–– in a country where there is an average of one per day, most of which never make mass media, 90 Americans a day killed by guns–– I stand resolutely in favor of wide-spread gun control. Call me old, but on this, I can not be swayed. These are a lot of issues and I feel at a loss most days, to know how to help or what to do. I feel ignorant when I realize just how much I don’t know about each of these issues, that suck the life from our society.

Today, I learned that another young person has taken their life. M was a transgender young man in my small community. I did not know him, but I was familiar with him. M was a 19-year-old boy; 19 is not an adult. He was the same age as my beloved boy. My heart breaks, when I think of the times my own boy has felt bullied and hurt, and recognize that this boy’s pain felt that much more insurmountable, to him. My heart breaks knowing that another mother will not see her child again. M was in the process of transitioning from female to male, and was struggling with depression. Particularly disturbing: he had posted his struggle on Facebook, including a very troubling post, just three days before his suicide, of trying desperately, for weeks and weeks, to get help for his depression. The daunting waits for appointments (weeks); the ignorance of others who did not understand his struggles as a trans person; the long wait to be seen and approved for medication, when he was able to eloquently express his needs and advocate for himself. His sense of hopelessness was palpable, in these poignant posts.

My heart breaks for his mother. It breaks for his loved ones and all the friends who cared about him, who could not ease his pain, and who have lost a friend. My heart breaks because I am a mother; this was a child, and I am ignorant. I believe that it does in fact take a village, and I failed this child too. Each time we look at a story and silently say: that doesn’t apply to me, consciously or unconsciously, we are a part of the problem. Being ignorant is not a valid excuse anymore. M was not alone, but he felt alone. When he went to a local ER, two days before his suicide, he was told that his gender identity was a “personality disorder.” This, by trained professionals! I am intimately aware of the health care providers at that hospital, and believe that it was purely ignorance, not mal-intent, that would lead to such a statement, but again: ignorance is not an excuse anymore. A young boy is dead.  Too many of us are ignorant. I am ignorant.

images-1But I plan to change that. My ignorance can not be an excuse to turn off the news. My ignorance shouldn’t allow me to go about my day and compartmentalize the death of a 19-year-old transgender youth, who felt misunderstood and hopeless enough, to end his life. My ignorance can’t be an excuse to simply feel sad for the unethical shooting of one more Black person. It’s not enough to simply not own a gun, and say that I am against those who do. We do not have to be IN somebody’s shoes to get it. Nor do we need to be swallowed up by all of the pain around us. I will start by doing more to understand what needs to be done. I will do more to understand the issues that overwhelm me. I will not be ignorant.

It starts with each of us. How many LGBT young people need to kill themselves before we truly teach our own children to not to bully. How many before we reach out and show some compassion, throw a possible life line to a drowning child? Do we need to be Black to know that being killed for a routine traffic stop is absolutely wrong? Do we need to be Black to stand up and say that? Do we need to lose a child, a lover, a spouse, friend or family member, to gun violence to stand up and say this needs to change? Or is it enough to know that 90 other Americans die each day? If all those children at Sandy Hook were not enough, what will be? Prayers for the victims are not enough. We can all step up and do more. Ignorance is not an excuse, and education is so much easier than healing broken heart after broken heart after broken heart…

If you want to be less ignorant about LGBT issues, check out my blogging friend Julie Tarney’s blog: My Son Wears Heels. She is a bold and informed mother, educating others on the life of her transgender child. Check out her writing; it’s deeply moving and very informative. Read more, use that computer to be informed and help young people who are hurting. Try to understand what Black Lives Matter is really about, and take a stand. We must all stand together when it comes to changing America’s reputation as a hot bed of gun violence. Ironically, when people hear that my daughter lives in Israel, they frequently say, “Oh, aren’t you so worried?” Well, it is a much safer place than the US, when it comes to violent crime. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse. We can change things.

Share your thoughts in the comment section. I want to know what you think, and welcome honest, constructive feedback.

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals!   KAPOW!  The Tales From the Motherland Facebook page recently hit the 2015 goal of 800 likes (which I set after hitting the 700 mark)! I’m going big for the next year and aiming for 1,000!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated.

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
Aside | This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, Blogging, bullying, Death, Honest observations on many things, LGBT, Motherhood, Musings, My world and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to A Straight Mother’s Response to Ignorance…

    • It really is! However James, I think we all need to move away from observing terrible news, and work to change it. Is your award-winning essay so eloquently stated, sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. Thanks for your feedback!

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      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree about not observing. Before the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage, I featured a gay wedding graphic for my business on all social media platforms.

        And what was really interesting was we got a feature on CNET.com and the writer chose the lgbt wedding graphic for his article. The vitriol in the comments was insane. So much so, they deleted all the comments and apologized to me.

        What was great though was the people who smacked down all the ignorant commenters. I wish they hadn’t deleted the comments. People need to see the nonsense, and the positive responses to it.

        Like

  1. Yes, hard sometimes to put ourselves in other’s shoes. Nicely put, Dawn.

    Like

  2. Mike Lince says:

    I am saddened to read on your blog site of this tragedy in your community. In the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino yesterday, I cannot help but wonder what we have become as a society in this country. If we could not clamp down on gun violence after the senseless slaughter of children at Sandy Hook and the racial violence at the church in Charleston, SC, what hope do we have for our futurer? I don’t have the answer to that question. – Mike

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    • Exactly, Mike! If Sandy Hook and Charlston, and all of the other senseless, enormous death tolls, have not taught us that we need to change things radically, then it does in fact feel hopeless at times. We cannot all save the world, but I do believe we can each contribute to to change and betterment overall. I guess this morning, with the news of the senseless suicide, my heart felt a tiny bit hopeless. As always, I appreciate your thoughtful response.

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  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Powerful post as always, Dawn. Many of us could be much better informed than we are on the many issues that plague our country. Your comment about your daughter being safer in Israel, at least in terms of violent crime, is an eye-opening one, no doubt.

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    • Thanks Carrie; your feedback is always so thoughtful. I think many people are surprised by my comments regarding safety in Israel versus safety in the US. I generally get a skeptical look, but I can assure you it in many ways it is absolutely true. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that this was a powerful piece. I sometimes I tell people that there were no gay people in the high school I graduated from. That’s how it was in those days. Also, when an unmarried girl got pregnant she disappeared from the school scene. I don’t want to go back there. I also grew up in a white world. My children growing up in North Carolina did not. I did my best to teach them equality. They’re grown up now and have to live their own lives. I only advise when asked. My daughter, being part Indian, had black hair. She decided she wanted to try hair extensions and had a Black lady do her hair. She was working part-time at the checkout in a large grocery store while she was in high school. One day a woman treated her with some distain because she no doubt thought my daughter was Black, even though she’s not dark-skinned. I told her, “Now you know how Black people feel, what they go through. Experience is a great teacher. As long as the NRA has such a powerful lobby, I don’t know when that problem will be resolved. We can only do what we can do and that’s about it. New laws about guns have to be made. Although that’s not enough. My son told us one time that if someone wants a gun, they can buy one on the street for very little. I would guess most kids know that fact. As long as there’s theft and greed, that problem will probably be there. — Suzanne

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    • Suzanne, it’s true that experience is a wonderful teacher, but I am hoping that most of us can learn without having had to experience some of these losses. Life is hard, but I hope we can all come together at some point and turn some things around. It seems to me, that we are headed in a continuously darker direction. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; it’s always appreciated.

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  5. mamaheidi60 says:

    Thank you for writing about this! Powerful, emotional. Still reeling here. Baking my way out of heartbreak today.

    Like

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