I had a childhood like many others. I had a loving mom and dad, an older brother who teased me and a couple of dogs running around the yard. We would read chapter books aloud which likely fostered my love of literature. Some of the happiest memories of my childhood take place on a New Jersey beach, surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins with the various fried treats sold along the boardwalk and the waves crashing on the sand.
My parents had a beautiful marriage. It was the kind of love that everyone hopes to find one day. Their unending love for one another was evident in our home, making for a warm and nurturing environment. From a young age, mom and dad always taught me to be accepting of others. “You can love anyone you want to love,” they assured me as a kid. This is when they explained to me that Daddy just liked girls, but Momma liked boys and girls. Of course, I didn’t think anything of it. My mom was my hero an anything she was doing couldn’t have been bad. Worried about her job and how things would impact my brother and me, Mom stayed in the closet. As a bisexual woman married to a burly guy towering over six feet, it’s pretty easy to stay closeted.
Then, two weeks into my senior year, the unthinkable happened. My dad, the light of my life, suffered a massive heart attack. He was in the hospital for 4 days following the heart attack, before he passed away from complications on my mom’s 45th birthday. I was beside myself having lost my Daddy and my heart ached for my mom who lost the love of her life and best friend of over two decades. That’s why I was in full support when my mom told me she was ready to start dating again. I knew she would always love my dad, but she deserved to be happy again, and he would want her to move on and live for both of them. He even reminded her of this expectation the day that he died.
A few months into dating, mom started talking to a woman. They went on a few dates and the connection was instantaneous. We even figured out that this woman, Michelle, was a nurse at a hospital my dad frequented. She had cared for him on numerous occasions. It felt like a sign that dad was giving mom his blessing. Before too long, Michelle and her two cats moved in with us. Their love story progressed and before we knew it, wedding bells were chiming. At this point, it’s clear that mom had to come out. My brother and I were both adults and she no longer thought her job was a good enough reason to hide who she was. For the most part, our friends and family took it in stride, accepting mom for who she is. Even my brother, who for religious reasons struggled with the scenario, was happy for mom and Michelle because he knew that Michelle was able to soften the ache my dad’s death left behind.
I am so proud to have two moms who love me so much. Michelle, or bonus mom as I affectionately call her, worries about me and takes care of me and bonds with me just as any parent would.
Earlier this month, though, I learned that my boss made some really nasty comments not only about me having two moms, but how “dysfunctional” he assumed my mom and dad’s marriage was given that people “don’t switch over night like that.” He had fallen prey to the misconception that bisexuality is not a valid sexual orientation. After learning this, I filed a complaint with our corporate office. Even though I am straight, I wanted to support LGBT people who may deal with my boss’ bigotry.”
Within four hours of hearing from corporate, I was unceremoniously fired. I was fired for speaking out for the LGBT community. For speaking out for my mom.
These kinds of things happen, and they happen right here in our town. Even though I loved that job, $11 an hour was not enough for me to compromise my beliefs. I had this choice. What about individuals who need their jobs though? Who struggle to make rent and can’t afford to miss a paycheck? What about the LGBT individuals who have stayed closeted for their whole careers because they are afraid of being fired because of who they are?
This is a fear that plagues them day in and day out, and it isn’t right. Everyone should be able to live their truth without worrying that it will cost them their job. That is why we need legislation in place that protects the LGBT community from workplace discrimination. We protect all kinds of minority groups from wrongful termination. It’s about time we extend this basic protection to LGBT folks.