“I’ve made all of the plans for the family gathering,” Harold said to his wife Raven excitedly.
“Very good. I can’t wait until Memorial Day weekend. We are going to have a blast,” Raven said happily.
“I gotta get the yard right, do some touch up painting, and get the boys to help pull out the outdoor furniture,” Harold said.
“I’ve called everyone and all of my sisters and brothers are coming, along with my nieces and nephews. It’s the first time they’ve all been able to get together in four to five years,” Harold shared with Raven.
Raven sighed, and walked into the house. Her heart was heavy. Harold had three sisters and two brothers. His sister, Melanie, was bisexual. I guess you could say bisexual if she had to have a label. Harold loved his sister dearly, but disagreed with her sexuality (or as he liked to put it, her “lifestyle”). He was a devout, sanctimonious Christian who drew the line at shacking up, homosexuality, and other religious tenets which cause Christians to judge.
He loved gathering his family at his large spacious 4-acre home in rural North Carolina, and they all loved to come. There was always plenty of food, plenty of drinks, and plenty of laughs. When coming to Harold’s place, everyone came with their spouses and significant others. It was fine for them to do so. They were heterosexual.
But Melanie, she was the exception to the family rule. She was the black sheep. The lesbian/bisexual. The recovering addict. The one family member who lived her truth. Although her life hasn’t been glamorous, it her peace. Each sibling had a story and road traveled. Yet Melanie was the one Harold appeared to have the least tolerance for.
Melanie’s sexuality was complex to most people. She’d birthed four beautiful daughters, with the first being born during her senior year in high school. Somewhere in between the child births and men, Melanie discovered she was bisexual. She was always a little “butchy”, but because she had children her family thought she was heterosexual. At some point, Melanie decided she preferred women than men for a long period of time. Thirty years to be exact. Her children were all adults now and fully aware of their mother’s sexual preferences. They were the epitome of supportive LGBTQ family members, and fierce protectors of their mother.
Except when it came to uncle Harold.
Uncle Harold had a way of making people feel as though they were sinners and he was their minister. They were living wrong, and Uncle Harold was living holy. He was the pillar of the family, and the other family members were morally beneath him. Harold knew his family held him in high regard and actually enjoyed it. It fit right into his hypocritical, narcissistic narratives.
Raven was a beautiful kind spirit. She was accepting and open-minded. Raven worked in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities where she’d become a staple of sorts. She was a confidante, a fierce advocate, a community spokesperson, an ally, and a person affected by HIV/AIDS. Her sister-in-law Layla, was infected with HIV over 20 years ago. It was personal for Raven.
Raven loved her in-laws, and she loved for them to come to her home for good old family fun. But she dreaded that Melanie always had to leave her partner in a hotel room when coming to her brother’s house because he had no tolerance for her love interest. It was as if her dirty life would mess up his clean, sanitized little world.
Melanie was tired of having to hide her partner of 8 years from Harold. She felt torn leaving her partner in a hotel room. Melanie would be enjoying family, and eating hot food while her partner was in a cold, lonely room watching television awaiting her return. Melanie knew if anything was ever going to change, it would have to be through Harold’s wife.
Raven was open-minded, and unafraid to challenge Harold’s beliefs and rules. She was a gritty, anti-religion, rule-breaking little hell cat that could convince almost anyone of almost anything. Melanie went to work making Raven an ally in helping to change Harold’s attitude. She took out her cellphone and dialed Raven’s mobile phone.
“Hello sister-in-law. How are you?” Raven said cheerfully.
“I’m good sis, I’m good,” Melanie politely replied.
“What’s up sister-in-law?” Raven asked nonchalantly.
“Well, I have a problem and I need your help,” Melanie said in a quivering voice.
“Ummmm, what’s wrong?” Raven said.
“It’s about your husband,” Melanie explained.
Raven quickly stopped Melanie, “What a minute honey, gotta move to another spot.”
She and Harold were in the same room watching television when Melanie called. She discreetly gave a coded message which let Melanie know she was moving. Once the move to the next room was complete, Raven gave Melanie the go ahead to proceed with her thoughts.
“I need your help sis,” Melanie said.
“My brother has never allowed my partner at any of his functions. It’s causing a lot of friction between us. I want to bring her. We’ve been together eight years. My kids love her, and everyone has met her except you and Harold,” Melanie passionately shared.
“Well, I feel that is appropriate and fair. Your partner is no different than your daughter bringing her boyfriend and being welcomed into our home. I’ll be getting in his shit in a few minutes. I understand where you’re coming from. It’s a new sheriff in town, and those old ways are not alright with me,” Raven confided in Melanie.
“Thank you sis. I truly appreciate you,” Melanie tearfully thanked Raven.
“No thanks needed. We’re family. Talk to you soon,” Raven said to Melanie.
“And don’t you worry either. It’s done!” Raven further exclaimed.
Raven and Melanie hung up their phones. Raven took a deep breath before going to approach Harold. She knew she was going to be in for a battle. He was stuck on his religion, and in his old-timey ways. Raven stood looking out of the window across her lawn. She was feeling the calm before the storm. She took in another deep breath, and proceeded to the family room where Harold was. She figured there was no time like the present.
“Harold, can I talk to you for a minute?” Raven asked.
“Oh boy, who was on the phone, and what did they want?” Harold asked sarcastically.
“Nope, Raven said hurriedly. “It’s about your sister,” she said.
Raven sat next to Harold and proceed to petition on behalf of her sister-in-law. She shared with Harold how his sister felt about excluding her partner and how it was unfair to allow every other unmarried and/or shacking heterosexual couple to attend family functions, but not his sister who was in a committed, same-sex relationship.
Of course, Harold went to the nightstand to get his Bible, and began to thump his chosen scriptures which espoused his religious views quoting the few scriptures pertaining to sexual immorality and homosexuality he could conjure up. The rest of his personal sermon was pulled straight out of his ass! Raven listened intently, looking Harold square into his eyes. Raven allowed him to finish his thoughts, judgements, and opinion.
“Are you done now?” Raven asked sarcastically.
Harold nodded affirming he was done.
Raven proceeded to give Harold the riot act. She told Harold that the Lord spent a lot of time discussing a lot of other things instead of sexual immorality because there were so few scriptures on it. Next, she broke down his hypocrisy regarding how all the hetero couples could bring their significant others, but his sister Melanie could not bring her same sex partner. Sin was sin.
She went on to lay into his ass about how she and Harold had engaged in sex on numerous occasions over a three-year period before they got married. He didn’t seem to have any issues with that she noted. Then she proceeded to remind him she was his third wife.
After a few more scenarios and analogies, she made it evident to Harold how unfair he was in giving preferences to heterosexual couples over same-sex ones. She told him how homophobic he was, and that he was no better than any other Christian sinner attempting to do God’s work judging folks. Putting the dagger into his heart, Raven told Harold how much he had hurt his sister over the years with his double-standard religious beliefs, judgement, and rules.
Raven could see her brashness had broken through Harold’s tough exterior. He loved his sister, but had no idea how bad he’d hurt her. She never told him. She never said a word.
Raven had fought the battle, and she’d won the war.
Harold took a deep sigh, his eyes filled with tears. He nodded his head in defeat as if he’d been beaten. He hadn’t realized how horrible he had been to his big sister. He apologized to Raven for being so bullheaded. She hugged him tightly. She knew her talk would cut deep. That was the plan.
Harold was going to call his oldest sister to apologize for mistreating her for so many years, and making her choose between family and her partner. She was the big sister who had raised him when his parents separated because his dad was abusive. She was the big sister who taught him how to tie his shoes, and how to ride a bike. Melanie was the big sister who helped him become who he was. He was ashamed, so ashamed.
Raven got her cellphone and dialed Melanie’s number, putting Harold on the phone when she answered.
“Hello,” Melanie answered sadly.
“I’m so sorry sis. I never knew how you felt. I never thought about how my words impacted you, your life, or your children,” Harold sobbed.
He continued, “I am so, so sorry sis. Please forgive me. Your partner is invited to my home anytime you come. Please apologize to her for me and please make sure you extend the family gathering invitation to her for me.”
Raven smiled. Her job was done.
“I love you brother,” Melanie sobbed uncontrollably.
“Thank you so much Harold. You don’t know how much this means to me. It’s been such a burden. Such a sore spot in my relationship. I feel like today a weight has been lifted,” Melanie continued.
Harold and Melanie spoke a few more minutes, with Harold working as hard as he could to right the wrongs he’d made over the years. Melanie finally ended her conversation with a final “I love you,” to her little brother, and asked him to pass the phone to his wife so they could share a private moment.
Raven took the phone from Harold and began talking.
“Thank you so much sister-in-law. I love you. I will never be able to repay you for what you’ve done for me,” Melanie sobbed.
A moment passed with no words spoken. With tears in her eyes and a full heart, Raven began to speak.
“Your life is yours and your alone. Who are we to judge? I love you, you’re my favorite sister-in-law. I know your brother loves you, and I personally can’t stand for people to be hurt. I knew I could use my position to impact his views, so I did. Love is love, and everybody wants to be loved,” Raven said through her tears.
“Now go get ready for work. I’ll see you in a few weeks at the family get together,” Raven said happily.
“We will be the first ones there. I’ll talk to you later,” Melanie said cheerfully.
Melanie and Raven hung up their phones. Raven was relieved things had gone well. All was well in her world again.
Love prevailed on that day.
Thank you for reading!
Marley K. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.