By: Dani Langevin
I knew my daughter was bullied as a child, but didn’t know how much until I recently read an eloquent paper she had written for one of her college classes. She survived a life threatening tumor as a child which left her with an unusually large chin and noticeable scarring on her neck from the tracheotomy she needed to breathe through. She was bullied for looking different. Later she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis so the bullying continued because she had to wear a back brace in middle school. Lastly, she was bullied for being the daughter of a lesbian. It was difficult to see the pain she was going through, but I cannot express it any better than she can. So, for this month’s column, I defer to my daughter, Abbi Massey. The following is an excerpt from her paper.
“I have never really thought about how I identify myself until I came to college. I am a child of divorce. I am a proud daughter of a lesbian. I am a strong person who never let the bullies of my past get the better of me.
A battle that I have been dealing with my whole life revolves around my mother being a lesbian. Our family had a lot of ups and downs but my mothers worked very hard to make our family what it is today.
My mother met Michelle in 1998. When they first started dating I was embarrassed at first. I was teased every day at school. A lot of kids called me a lesbian because my mom was gay. I remember asking my mother not to hold Michelle’s hand in public because I was bullied. In our neighborhood, a family ended up moving out in response to my mom being gay. I would make new friends and ask them over for a play date. Their parents would find out I had two mothers and wouldn’t allow my friends to come over.
Middle school was the hardest. I would come home crying every day. When we moved to a new school district and my mother got a job teaching at my school, I asked her not to say anything until I graduated. I started being called a lesbian because of who my mom was. It hurt me a lot. My mother is who she is and I am who I am. Just because my mother is a lesbian, doesn’t mean I am.
When I started high school the bullying stopped. All of my friends knew I had a lesbian mother. They were there for me and supported me in everything. They made me realize that it doesn’t matter.
When I started college, I realized how accepting everyone is. I don’t hide anything anymore. I talk about my mother more now. It feels great to know I can openly talk about such an important influence in my life. I realized how unfair I was to my mother. I regret asking her not to hold Michelle’s hand or tell anyone who she was. I didn’t allow her to be who she wanted to be. I love my mother for her strength and how brave she is. She is my hero.
The family that I have with my mother is a very important part of my life. My two moms and two brothers and I have learned to be a loving, caring, accepting and supportive family. I wouldn’t trade my family for any other family in the world. There are individuals that wouldn’t recognize my family as real. I define family as stability, love and acceptance and it is not defined by number or sex. It’s defined by knowing there’s a place you can go where there are people who love you, can dislike how you act and be angry about your choices, but will still embrace and support you. A family doesn’t have to have a mother and a father.
I have been through a lot in my life. I have survived a tumor. I was teased and bullied throughout my whole childhood. I have been given harsh obstacles that a lot of people would have given up on. I haven’t. I have stayed strong and persevered through it all. The family and friends that I have with me today made me who I am. I have learned who I can let into my life and who I can leave behind. Although I have no wish to go back and relive the traumatic experiences I went through, they have made me who I am today.”
For the record, Abbi is my hero.