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A Lesson in Acceptance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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"Oh my gosh, that is so gay!" Then thelaughter kicks in. Have the people laughing ever thought about why others mightbe offended by this language?

What if a family member told you he or shewas gay? Would "gay" still be an insult? When someone in my family toldme she was gay, I had to learn the hard way.

When I was in fifth grade mymom called me into the living room and told me to sit down. Then, she revealed asecret which had been eating away at her for some time: she is a lesbian.

What she told me didn't sink in until a few weeks later. Suddenly, it hitme like a wrecking ball against the side of an abandoned warehouse. I couldn'tbelieve what she had told me. I tried to suppress what was going on and, as aresult, frequently found myself alone.

My friends knew I was keepingsomething to myself. Cathy would suddenly have plans when I invited hersomewhere, or Shayla would have too much homework. I called Justin, but when heheard it was me he would hang up. One time Ashley and Cathy were talking atmorning recess, and when I tried to join in Ashley looked at me with disgust andsaid, "This conversation doesn't concern you." I felt so hurt, butthought if I told them my secret they would ignore me even more. I was ashamed.

Soon, I became depressed. Every day I walked home from school alone. Iwould enter the house, throw my stuff on a chair, grab some chips and watch TV. Ididn't go outside much, and most people didn't seem to notice. It felt likenobody cared anymore. I never answered the phone because I knew it wouldn't befor me. I was just this weird girl who never told her friendsanything.

One day I decided I couldn't go on that way. I walked onto theschoolyard, butterflies fluttering in my stomach. It took all my strength toconvince myself I wasn't in a dream, and told my friends what I had been hiding.As I had suspected, few accepted it. Some good came of the situation, though: Ifound out who my real friends were.

As soon as my "friends"found out about my mother, the news spread through the school. There was a lot ofnegativity from closed-minded, ignorant people, which didn't end at school. Evenmy uncle added fuel to the fire, telling me my mom's lifestyle was morally wrong.I was so enraged I started to cry. I could handle it from kids at school, but myown blood? I haven't talked to my uncle much since.

On top of everythingelse, my best friend's mom found out and decided her daughter should notassociate with me anymore. It was as if seven years of friendship meant nothing.She decided her child being in the home of a lesbian wouldn't be right; it could"influence" her. Even though I explained homosexuality is not somethingyou are pressured into, I still haven't seen my best friend for fiveyears.

With my mom's new lifestyle came a new group of people. Jeanie wasmy mom's first girlfriend. Since my parents had gotten divorced only three monthsearlier, I wasn't happy about having her around; in fact, I didn't like her atall. She was a younger, nonchalant woman. With her carefree attitude, she took mymom and turned her into a free spirit. My mom was as happy as Scooby Doo with abox of Scooby Snacks.

The problem was that it seemed like my mom wasnever around. She and Jeanie would spontaneously take day or weekend trips,leaving my mom too tired to spend time with me. I never said anything because shewas so happy, but thankfully they didn't last long as a couple. Although it hurtmy mom, it was good that Jeanie left our lives.

Six months later, my mommet Jann. She was a free spirit like Jeanie, but understood me better because shehad a daughter of her own. I especially liked that she included me on theirtrips. We were as close as two peas in a pod. She had a subtle way about her thatmade me feel comfortable.

Girlfriends weren't the only new people whocame along. Now my mom has a wonderful circle of friends. One is Wendy. We getalong fantastically. She gives my mom a new youth without taking her away fromour family. Ann and Amy, who have a young son, are also great to my mom. Afterher break-up with Jann, they often invited her to weekend cookouts and campingtrips.

Last but not least is Marty. She is not only my mom's girlfriendbut is also her best friend. She's never had kids and it was hard for her atfirst, but she's a good sport and a willing listener.

Now I know that afamily member's lifestyle doesn't affect only that person, but everyone aroundhim or her.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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