By Mikayla Denault
As I’ve grown up in a LGBT family, I am encouraged to participate in a plethora of opportunities as a daughter of two moms. These experiences have opened my eyes to many life lessons that I can take with me in the future. Through these lessons, I have gained the confidence that I need to stand up for my beliefs, the LGBT community, and myself. With high school staring me straight in the face, I have to brush off many of my burdening fears so I can be my true optimistic self. Here are eight crucial events in my family’s life that changed our lives, and I hope these lessons affect your life too.
Experience #1: My moms getting married
This was the most incredible experience of my life. When the Maryland law that allows same-sex couples to marry was placed in effect in January 2014, my parents and I immediately started planning the day in which my parents had waited for for over 20+ years. Surrounded by all of our supporting loved ones, we celebrated the life and love of two of the most important people of my life who were patient for half of their life just to receive the rights they deserve. Meg and Missy (my moms) were married on May 24, 2014, at their favorite restaurant with me as their bridesmaid and pianist.
I had the honor to pick their rings in St. Maarten while unaware that they also bought me one. During the wedding day, as I stood on the stage while they announced their vows, my mom beckoned me over saying they couldn’t do this without me. At first, I refrained from going because I knew it was my moms’ moment, but she grasped onto my hand and placed a ring on my finger. After that moment, everything was so surreal, especially since I bawled my eyes out. This will be a memory I will never forget.
What I learned: There is always light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what I went through with my parents, we remained strong to receive that freedom and support by our loved ones despite the negativity. Our love endured under the shadow and was shown that day for the world to see. I knew at that moment that they always loved me and will never cease to do so. God created love that was so perfect, and my parents were given that love by Him when they both first laid eyes on each other.
Experience #2: Introducing my mothers
I always find it funny to observe different people’s reactions when I introduce my moms for the first time. Some people are absolutely surprised and confused, while others completely think it’s normal. However, I am sometimes presented with someone who reacts in a hostile, rude demeanor. But with this ever-changing society today, I am given these moments less and less. Whenever I introduce Missy and Meg to a friend, their initial response is surprise, but it usually ends with all of my friends thinking that having two moms is awesome. A few of the most distinct expressions were from peers who were confused on the whole subject, the lady assisting my parents with their marriage license, and other people who helped us apply to certain things.
What I learned: Throughout the years of routinely introducing my parents, I learned that the world is changing slowly, but surely. The LGBT community is becoming less and less of a rarity, and more people are accepting. I also realized that when you let people understand more about the LGBT society, the majority seems to accept and love more. Even though I find many of the reactions humorous, these interactions also help me understand there is still more work to be done.
Experience #3: Dealing with discriminatory people
Referring back to my last article, many of you know my worst experience with a discriminatory person was with a parent who didn’t allow me to play with her child in Pre-K because she didn’t want my moms to be bad influences. Even though this broke my heart, I didn’t let this phase me. It even strengthened my bond with my parents. Whenever I’m faced with a bigoted person, I don’t even give them the time of day to spew hate, and I kill them with kindness. Sometimes I am even able to open people’s minds to a more caring perspective on this topic, and their attitudes seem to fade away.
What I learned: The strongest people are the most persistent people, and some of the most persistent people in this world today are people who are a part of the LGBT society. Kindness is the cure for any evil thought, struggle, and negative event.
Experience #4: My mom criticized for being different
Even though I still try to focus on the amazing evolution of equality over the years, we must never forget what many people had to go through just to be themselves so it never happens again. When Meg first came out, her mother didn’t want to admit to the fact that she was gay because this was different for her, being raised as a devout Irish Catholic in her time, and she was scared of what would happen to her daughter. My grandmother didn’t want to face ridicule from her peers, and at the time, she believed it was a sin. My grandma took Meg to a psychologist because she thought this was gravely wrong, and not impossible to “fix.” Thankfully, as if the universe showed grandma a sign, as soon as she met Missy, she ended that nonsense and accepted them being in love seeing how right they are for each other.
What I learned: I learned the past is very important for the world to remember, even if we want to forget many of those dismal days. History shows us the rules on what we should do and should not do in order for peace to flourish. Especially with the experience of my mom, she learned to never let what other people think stand in the way of what she wants in life. She knew to never give into her mother’s beliefs because her conscience never seemed to stand in her way by telling her otherwise. She knew what was right, and what would truly make her happy.
Experience #5: Standing up for LGBT rights and spreading the word
With the incredible response of my first article on The Next Family, I could definitely see awareness being spread. When we stand up for LGBT rights, we change the world and bring peace where there was not before. Even deflecting a rude comment can change a person’s view and that positivity can spread. My experiences standing up for LGBT rights consist on writing these blogs, sharing my beliefs, deflecting hate, and even sharing my positivity with others.
What I learned: One little sentence can affect the world we live in.
Experience #6: My parents being introduced as sisters
When my parents were still struggling for people to accept them, Meg’s mother would always call Missy and Meg sisters. My parents, obviously feeling insulted, would refute that statement. Her mom thought it was never a problem because she always thought of Missy like a daughter. She needed to remember the long process they had to go through just to love one another and be accepted by their loved ones.
What I learned: Express your true self, and never let others affect the way you live your life. Never be someone you’re not.
Experience #7: Watching hateful events occur
The Orlando shooting was one of the most terrible tragedies that had ever happened to this world. Watching this hateful event being displayed on the news was a dark day for all LGBT people. It hurt me to watch thinking that these innocent people who loved who they wanted to love and be who they wanted to be were killed just because they celebrated their differences. I cried reflecting on their families and thought that it could’ve been anyone, even my parents. However, the strength of the LGBT community only grew stronger. Everyone fought back against this evil together to work to end this hate, even people who never supported before. While we paid tribute to the lives lost, this displayed our values of love, hope, and positivity even despite the hate. I ask everyone to now take a moment to reflect on the lives lost in the Orlando shooting.
What I learned: There will always be struggles on the road to success. What really matters is how you become resilient from failures. When everyone works together, we can achieve anything. True strength and love is most apparent in the tough times if you choose to fight back the evil.
Experience #8: Delving into new experiences
My whole life has revolved around new experiences and so have my parents’ lives. My birth was a new experience they had to face and so was them marrying each other. These new experiences always included difficult journeys, but the results were worth it. My parents’ willingness to try new things concluded in more love, and they became wonderful role models for the LGBT community.
What I learned: Always try new experiences because they either result in a learning experience you can take with you in life or something really amazing that will change your life forever.
These experiences have helped my family grow in wisdom, determination, and love. I will step into high school and the future knowing these lessons and hoping to be a role model for others. I believe that one day, with these lessons and dedicated people, the world can fully have equality apparent everywhere, and everyone will be free to be themselves and love who they truly love.
Mikayla is a ninth grader from Maryland who lives with her two mothers whom she loves to the moon and back. She is passionate about writing and swimming and hopes to one day be a news reporter by day and a swim coach by night. Mikayla is known for her crazy, positive attitude and laughing all the time, as well as excelling in school, winning writing and swimming contests, and playing piano and singing in choir.