By Taylor Brorby
Taylor Brorby is a graduate student in liberal studies at Hamline University.
A two-syllable word carries a lot of meaning: Worried.
People worry about bank accounts, the economy and revolutions happening around the world. I, too, worry about these things, but since last fall I have started to worry about myself — because my aunt told my mom to worry about me.
After graduating from college I was accepted to a seminary on the East Coast. Excited, nervous and unsure about what was to come, I decided to spend one final summer at home with my parents. Being the first one in my family to go to college, and having left the state to do so, I thought this was a great opportunity to get some quality time with my family before moving far away and starting the next stage of my young adult life.
And then my aunt called my mother: "Denise, I'm worried Taylor might be gay."
I would not have believed that a parent's Top Ten List of Worries might include whether his or her son is gay. I imagined such things as weak lungs, developmental problems or diseases would more readily come to mind. I never thought the person I am would provoke worry.
But that's what has happened. Just such a worry has strained my relationship with my parents. I no longer visit for holidays, and I have been told that it's not OK for me to be this way. My parents and I struggle to try to walk a new path in a new relationship.
In the arena of religion, my soul is a topic of contention. I've heard that I'm going to hell, but I've also heard that God loves everyone. It's kind of cool to be the center of so much attention and gossip. In my church I sit on two councils, volunteer for funerals and help serve communion. My congregation had its first same-sex wedding last summer. The Rainbow Rule applies here: All are welcome.
But with my family life in such an uproar, I have put my seminary plans on hold.
Outside of my relations with relatives, my social life has changed little. In Minneapolis, I find safety in my sexuality. In class, I call myself the "pink sheep" of my family. I comfort my friends when they break up with their girlfriends, and I compliment my friend Eleanor on her sense of style. She tells me my glasses make me look sexy (at 91, she still has a great sense of humor).
Despite the rift in my family, my sister still calls me Nerdbomber and wonders why I listen to classical music. My nephews know I love them "to the moon and back."
My life is rooted in my commitment to relationships. I empathize with those who are hurting, laugh with those who need the best medicine, and hold hands when words fail.
As Mary Oliver says, "I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world." Because at some point you will have gay people in your family. They will love you to the moon and back.