Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Ties That Bind. by Dara Fisher

Many years ago I saw the movie Lilo and Stitch and fell in love with it.  
The film is about family. 
Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind.  
It is a mantra that I have incorporated into my family and means a lot to us.  
When I was growing up, my family was not only my blood related family members but also our extended family of friends.  My parents’ social group was primarily gays and lesbians.  We all socialized together, spent holidays together, and went on trips together.  Everybody came from different backgrounds yet we all melded into a beautiful familial arrangement.  
As an adult, I have ended up with a similar family which is tight knit and includes my two best friends, Domita and Naisha.
Gay marriage translates into my head as gay families.  
Isn’t that the idea behind getting married?  To create a family?  
Families come in all different shapes and sizes.  There are families with children and without children, families that adopt children, families that use IVF and surrogacy, and foster families.  There are so many different types of families that it would be impossible to cover them all, but in the end, we all have the same goal.  
We want to love and be loved.  Gay families are no different.
I’ve always believed that if the folks that are so against gay marriage could actually see for themselves how we live, they probably wouldn’t oppose it as much.  
Right now there is this horrible thing on television called reality tv.  I personally think it’s one of the worst things that we as a society have done to ourselves.  These producers go out and find some of the worst examples of human behavior and televise it for the world to see.  
When I spoke with my Dad concerning the decision to write about our family, he was very supportive of the idea.  He liked the fact that I would be presenting our lives honestly and without the stereotypes many associate with the gay community.  
Contrary to popular belief, gay men are not relentless perverts.  The majority of them don’t run around wearing rainbows, throwing glitter, and singing show tunes.  The gay men and lesbian women I grew up with were just people.  
I will say though that you will never see a cleaner or better decorated home than a gay man’s house.  I can also admit that in my next life I want to come back as a gay man’s dog.  My Dad’s dogs scored.  
My Dad never let me eat ice cream for breakfast.  But I digress.  
Each and every relationship in a family is important and special.  The same rules apply to gay families.  We all have unique relationships with each other and because of the difference in how our families are arranged, our relationships are different too.

My Dad was with Terri for most of my life.  
All I can ever remember is Dad and Terri being together.  
To say that I loved Terri would be undercutting it.  I absolutely adored my Terri.  Even though I was biologically my Dad’s, Terri always loved and treated me as if I were his very own.  
When I was a kid, my Dad didn’t know quite what to do with me.  Even being a gay man didn’t help when it came to raising a daughter.  Dad found a lot of the issues that came up with me too awkward and frankly, I felt weird going to Dad with some of my more feminine situations.  Terri on the other hand was excellent at dealing with the day to day trauma’s that were bestowed upon me and I appreciated being able to have someone there for me.  
When I was first going through puberty, my Mom asked my Dad to take me shopping for bras.  
That had to have been one of the worst conversations that ever happened between my parents.  
I don’t know what the discussion was but I do know that Terri was the one who took me to the mall to get said undergarments.  
Terri was the more feminine one between him and Dad, though I can tell you from firsthand experience, he certainly wasn’t one to mess with.  (I’ll explain more about that when I discuss the bullying issue later on!) 
My Dad and Terri split up in 2000.  

Neither of them had the heart to tell me when it happened because I was nine months pregnant with my oldest son.  The day I found out that they had split up was pretty bad.  My son was about two weeks old when my Dad called to tell me that my Grandma had passed away.  After I handed the phone back to my Mom, I went into the bedroom to pick up my little boy and I was listening to my parents’ conversation.  I knew something was up because my Mom was speaking a hushed tone and that was never a good thing.  My Mom was the one who told me that my Dads had split up after two decades together and to make matters worse, Terri had tested positive for HIV.  
To this day I don’t know the details of how Terri contracted HIV and honestly, I don’t care.  
My Dad is still HIV negative and Terri’s HIV status made no difference in our relationship anyhow. 
Terri’s HIV diagnosis put a lot of things in perspective.  I had seen what HIV/AIDS did to the gay community and knowing that the virus was in Terri made my heart hurt.  
Terri was scared of dying of AIDS.  He told me once that he could handle dying but that he didn’t want to suffer through the end stages of AIDS.  The cocktails that he took to treat the HIV would make him really sick and there were a couple of times when we thought we were going to lose him.  
My Dad and Terri remained best friends after their split.  I never understood why they split up since they ended up living together for a years after and were pretty much at each constantly at each other's sides.  

Even when Dad met and fell in love with Richard, Dad and Terri were still tied to each other.  
I always thought it was so amazing how Richard was totally okay with Dad and Terri’s relationship.  
Richard understood that Terri was our family and we don’t leave family behind.  

Two years ago, we lost Terri.  He went to sleep and never woke up.

My Terri


When Dad called me to tell that my Terri was gone, I was driving down the highway taking my children to McDonalds.  He had me pull over before telling me but it didn’t lighten the blow in any way. 
I managed to get home before the reality of Terri’s loss hit me but when it did, it was agony.  
It was the same pain in my chest I had when my Mom passed away in 2006.  

As I sit here writing this blog, thinking about Terri being gone brings back the same pain I had that day.  Terri’s death dealt a hard blow through our family.  
My husband, who had always been cool with my gay parents, seemed to truly understand the depth of our family relationships for the first time.  
He knew that we were a family and lived as such but sometimes I think he didn't consider us a real family because we weren't like the family he grew up in.  
For years my husband had seen our family but never took us seriously.  
I honestly think seeing the pain that losing Terri put me through helped him to understand us better.
This past Thanksgiving, my Dad, Richard, Ken, Clarence, my husband, and myself were all standing outside after dinner talking about Terri.  Even though Terri is gone, we still speak of him lovingly and feel his absence when we are all together.  We were laughing as we told stories about Terri storming my school to deal with a bully, the Halloween I walked right past him in drag to ask my Dad where Terri was and all the other great stories about Terri.  

Gay families are based on the same love as every other family.  
We fight, we laugh, we screw with each other, and we love each other.  
If more families like us were on television, we might find that the gay marriage opposition would dissolve.  It’s hard to hate someone who is just like you.

Dara Fisher. A 33 year old Mother of 3 amazing children with her Prince Charming Keith.  
They live right outside of Palm Springs, California. Dara has degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and Business Administration.  
She works full time in the Hospitality Industry and attends college classes in pursuit of her MBA when she's not busy being Super Mom.   
She spend her spare time crocheting, quilting, and making a mess with pretty much anything she can get my hands into.  She is a huge Doctor Whofan and  can't eat while watching The Walking Dead. 
Oh and she also happens to be the daughter of gay parents and the Mother of a child with Asbergers  Syndrome and ADHD

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