Coming Out

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(Host) With Gay Pride events scheduled for this weekend in Vermont, commentator Amber Leventry reflects on how some things have changed – and some haven’t.

(Leventry) I was flipping burgers and spreading barbeque sauce on chicken when my mother decided to join me on the front porch. “I want you to find a good Christian man who will take care of you,” I heard her say over the stinging sounds of the meat hitting the grill. And after 21 years of fear and anxiety, I heard myself reply that I was gay and in a committed relationship.

I heard the tears before I had the strength to look at them. Her face was cracked in sadness and her body language reflected her disappointment. Through sobs I heard her say, “I know, I’ve known for awhile.”

I tried to explain and then defend the natural course of my life but the best we could do was agree to disagree. Four years later, things are better but I still cannot forget that my mother declined the invitation to attend our civil union.

I often wonder why, if she had known for so long, she had made no attempt to deal with my sexuality. I understand that denial is hard to overcome; I had to deal with it myself during moments of self-acceptance.

So I’ve been amazed by my partner’s parents active participation in PFLAG meetings (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). They accepted me as not only their daughter’s partner, but as their own daughter.

We pushed their acceptance of us as a couple with our announcement of our ‘wedding’ plans. We wanted their approval and support. We got it.

We also got many questions: Would one of us wear a tuxedo? Would we exchange vows, rings, have a reception? Who would marry us? Would we have a photographer, DJ, a caterer? We did our best to answer their questions. We didn’t know all of the answers; we didn’t have any experience planning a wedding, especially a gay wedding. But, we did just fine; most of our plans followed the events of a traditional wedding, with variations to accommodate our personalities.

Amy’s parents helped pay for our wedding expenses and her mom came a week before the big day to cook, organize and help with last minute details. We had just moved to Vermont, so nearly all of our friends and family were from out-of-state. With the help of Amy’s mother, we organized a large dinner party two nights before our ceremony with a picnic the following day.

The pictures tell the story best. In a fenced-in backyard, lined with multi-colored balloons, an eclectic mix of young and old mingled and hovered over long tables of baked goods and burgers. The Civil Union ice was broken. New friends were made. Fears and judgment disappeared. Minds were opened.

I’m Amber Leventry of Burlington.

Amber Leventry is a writer currently working on her first novel.

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