Family Ties: What I Want

The following essay appeared in Bi Women (Sept-Oct-Nov 2005).

I want everyone in my family to rush to my defense, like an army of outraged PFLAG Moms, without my having to ask.

I want them to snarl, shaking their powerful lions’ manes, and roar “How dare you treat one of ours as a second class citizen?” I want them to call me on the phone and ask unbidden, “How can we help? Where can we send money? Would it help if we wrote letters? To whom should we write? We’ll happily lobby at the State House.” And we want our children to know that one must take action against injustice: we’ll be helping them to write letters and we’ll bring them along to support you.

“It’s a travesty,” I want them to say, “that you are not given the same rights as your brothers, your parents, your cousins. And we are here to fight this battle with you. You should not have to carry this burden alone.”

I wonder how to ask for this. When I ponder this question, my voice feels small and tentative. How could it be that they don’t automatically already know how important this is to me? Are they at fault for failing to leap to my defense? Am I at fault for failing to ask for help? If I asked for help, would they be there for me?

Granted, my family is more supportive than many, perhaps more supportive than most. They love me, and they love Peg. They know how happy Peg and I are together and we have their support. They attended our wedding and are, I believe, genuinely happy for us.

Granted, I’ve never asked them directly for help. Honestly, I’m afraid to ask because I’m afraid that they will say no. And that would hurt. A lot.

I’ve been considering writing a letter to the members of my family and to my straight allies asking for their help – their material, concrete help – and giving them specifics about what they can do. What to write? To whom? Where to send money?

I’ve just been elected to the Board of Directors of MassEquality, and it is now my responsibility to raise many thousands of dollars for the organization. And not only is it my responsibility as a member of the board, I feel I must do so at this moment in history because so much is at stake.

Massachusetts matters. What happens here will have a profound and long-lasting effect upon the rest of the country. We must defend our marriages, our newly-won equality. If we lose marriage here in Massachusetts, the marriage equality movement will be set back throughout the United States. Here in the Bay State something has happened that is stretching the imagination of the entire country. If it’s possible in this one state, and if in fact support for marriage equality in Massachusetts has been on the rise since May 17, 2004 because people are realizing that no harm has been done, then it’s possible in other states. In some states this could happen in the next few years.

California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island are all prospects. This is precisely the fear of the right wing. This is why they want to stamp it out now. And this is why we must prevail.

So I promise to write to my family, to my friends, to my co-workers, and to say: take out your checkbooks and write a check to MassEquality or to GLAD. Go on line to MassEquality.org, or to glad.org and make a donation. Make as large a donation as you possibly can. And tell them that Robyn Ochs sent you. Robyn: your daughter, your sister, your cousin, your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend.

I want you to show me how much you care, how much it matters to you that I not be denied equal protection under the law. I want you to stand up with me, for me, by my side.

I ask you to support me even though I am afraid.

With love,

Robyn

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