Today I watched Prayers For Bobby which, for those that don't know, is a film about a religious mother's relationship with her gay son.
Parts of the film reminded me of my own upbringing, hearing some of the things my parents said about gay men (not that I ever had them quote The Bible at me!) and how their views influenced mine. So when my sexual awakening happened I had a very hard time coming to terms with it and believed my parents would stop loving me.
However, when I told them about my sexuality (and later my gender identity), I found their views were paper thin and that they certainly did not think that I was any of the labels I'd heard them apply to others like myself.
In fact, far from stop loving me, my mother told me, "We love you unconditionally. You will always be our child". Those words mean more to me than any other present my parents ever bought me (and, believe me, they did spoil me rotten!). So, all in all, I consider myself lucky.
But, sadly, a friend of mine isn't so lucky.
When she told her parents she was a transsexual her parents blew a fuse. They told her they were ashamed of her and that they'd "rather have a criminal in the family than a transsexual". But the hatred did not stop at name calling. They have also physically restrained and detained her, blackmailed her and physically abused her.
And, you know, people go on about how being trans is a choice. Well, even if I did believe that was true (which I don't), what is also a choice is how you react to someone you don't like. And I would say my friend's family have chosen to react to her being a transsexual in the worst way possible.
They didn't have to be so cruel and spiteful, acting on their worst human instincts. They could've chosen a whole host of other options open to them. And I believe there is only word that I think applies to choosing to be so full of cruelty and hatred and that word is "evil". To seek to destroy the life of someone else - especially when it's your own child - is evil.
I am not sure how you come to terms with that. How do you come to terms with knowing that your family wants to destroy your life? That your parents who brought you into this world, who, like my parents, should love you unconditionally, hate you so much that they want to destroy the life you worked so very hard for. How do you come to terms with that?
So, as her friend, I am full of admiration for the fact she's faced this with such dignity, such love and a belief in the future that borders on the eternally optimistic.
But I'm afraid I haven't an ounce of her mental strength, so I can not emotionally deal with her magnanimity and I have had to become detached. That in itself pains me and it certainly does not stop me worrying about her.
So, yes, I do consider myself very lucky to have been born into my family. I know how much worse it could've been and only wish everyone - especially my friend - was as lucky.