Then the Gays Came
When I was a young single mother in the 80’s my daughter was a very determined two year old and we were very poor. I worked two jobs, but it was never enough to cover the most basic needs. I did not have a college education and I had even less skills. I worked as a waitress and a bartender in a very small southern town. Not very lucrative positions there, and both jobs were looked down upon.
Additionally, I went to a very intolerant church at the time, and was often very depressed. During the holidays people kept asking me if I was “getting that baby a tree” and I kept thinking that I needed to “get that baby food” instead. Of course I was not buying a tree. At that point I was so poor that we didn’t have a phone, a TV, or that much food.
My daughter was in daycare while I worked, and she kept insisting that Santa was coming. I felt horrible because I really did not have any money. I planned to go to the dollar store to get a few things for Christmas morning, but then my car broke down about three weeks before Christmas. I had expressed my frustration to a person who was becoming a good friend, a young man named James, who was gay.
I struggled with what my church said was right, and what my heart said was right all the time. I was already a sinner for working in a bar, but I just kept thinking that I had to provide and it really did not matter how I did it as long as I did it. I mean on one hand going on welfare was wrong but on the other-hand working for more than minimum wage at a bar was wrong too. I couldn’t win. To make matters worse most of my friends were turning out to be Gay! None of them really knew of my inner struggles with my faith, and with their lifestyle or my own lifestyle but they did know I was having a hard time.
My friends encouraged me to seek help via social services but I never did it. I thought I had to do it myself. I thought getting help was wrong. Certainly, even though everyone in my church knew our predicament no help was forthcoming. I seriously only felt judgement at church. I struggled to feel the so-called unconditional love I was supposed to receive but never felt it. When my car broke down no one from church offered me rides. When everyone went out to lunch after church no one offered to help me when I said we could not go. I was essentially more alone than never.
Then, here is my daughter telling me every day that Santa will come. “You’ll see mommy! He will come!” Christmas Eve I was so sad, sitting in my very un-holiday like apartment trying to figure out how to deal with what I knew would be disappointment in the morning about No Santa. I kissed her goodnight with tears in my eyes knowing how her heart would be broken in the morning. About 30 minutes later I heard a knock at the door.
I opened the door and my friend James, flanked by 10 to 15 other friends of his, all bearing gifts for my baby girl, and FOOD! And a Tree! We didn’t have a stand but we leaned it against the corner and decorated it, and put all the gifts under the tree, and enjoyed some wine and food and for the first time I felt true love and true acceptance. I felt it from my GAY friends! Not from my church. It was a beautiful evening. After they left I put the food away, cleaned up and went to sleep knowing that my daughter would not be disappointing in the morning.
In the morning, my daughter woke me up, very excited. She was screaming with delight and said “Mommy! I told you! Santa was here!!!!!!!! LOOK!!!!” I was so very humbled. My life changed from that day forward. I left that church and now call myself a Unitarian which is an accepting church. I taught all my children (four now) acceptance and love, not hate. I tell them all this story because it is very essential to why I am the person I am today and why I give a damn.
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