Public disapproval over who could marry whom was an issue for Kelly’s family early on. Her father is black, and her mother is white. Kelly and her brother were bullied frequently in the small town of Guntersville Alabama. They were the only mixed race kids in town. Kelly was quiet and shy and kept to herself.
When she was 16, Kelly found a name for the identity that had been growing within her: lesbian. Her feelings had been developing for a while, but it came to fruition when she started a relationship with a girl in her class. Kelly was confident that the hardships her parents had gone through would make them accepting of who she was growing up to be. She was wrong. “At the time I thought that being gay that my parents being a bi-racial couple that they would be more accepting. My father had nothing to say. Til this day he hasn’t spoken about me being a lesbian. My mother freaked out. She put me in counseling to try to make me straight.” The counseling did not change Kelly, as her mother had hoped but in fact, made her more confident in who she is.
Kelly’s mother kicked her out of the house. While her father did not intervene, he divorced her mother shortly thereafter, and Kelly suspects that her mother’s behavior might have been a contributing factor. Kelly found refuge with her aunt in Huntsville, Alabama.
Kelly passed her GED, and did not see or hear from her mother for over a year. After a period, Kelly’s mother made contact again. She said she had reconsidered, and wanted to re-establish contact. Kelly was reluctant but over time, resumed sporadic communications.
Eight years ago, Kelly had moved to Florida and met a woman named Leslie. Leslie fell in love with Kelly immediately, and had to work hard to get through the protective emotional walls that Kelly had built up. Kelly over time was able to trust this wonderful woman in her life and to trust that the love they shared was real. As they quickly became soul mates, and were working towards a happy ever after in their life journeys, tragedy struck.
“I started breaking out all over my body and everything hurt. You couldn’t touch me without me screaming,“ Kelly states. What was first diagnosed as shingles, finally was determined to be Lupus, which was running out of control through Kelly’s body. She also was found to be suffering from both Fibromyalgia and Lumbar Disc Disease.
Conditions with the fibroid tumors led to a full hysterectomy. Kelly understands that at this point, her mother may have started doing fund raising in her local church. The funds presumably raised allowed for Kelly’s mother to come down for the operation. If other funds were raised to help Kelly, Kelly never received them.
Kelly’s heart has been damaged by Lupus. She was finally declared Disabled, and is on constant risk for heart attacks. Financially she was devastated and relies on Leslie for survival. Half of her disability income goes to pay past medical debt.
Kelly’s aunt was under the impression that money was coming into Kelly from Kelly’s mother and the church. Kelly decided to have a casual conversation with her mother by phone, tape it, and get confirmation for her aunt that no money was coming Kelly’s way.
The conversation (you can hear it below) did not go as Kelly had planned and instead of an admission that funds had been diverted, Kelly’s mother outlined the plan should Kelly pass away. Her exact words were, “You know Kelly, I tell you what. If you die before me…you know what, when you get dead, we’re going to go through your house and we are going to strip it, and that girl won’t have a pot to piss in…you little heifer, you have put my life through hell. Gay sh*t. I hate gay sh*t. I am not going to live my life telling you that I believe in two women being married. It is not in the Bible, it is a damned SIN! And I am ashamed you live with a damn woman… You go straight to Hell! Go to Hell, Bitch!” Where other videos speak to the horror of coming out to homophobic parents, this one speaks to the vital need for marriage protection for couples like Kelly and Leslie.
Kelly has not communicated with her mother since.
But I will:
An open message to Kelly’s mother:
I am the dad to two boys, 12 and 11 years old. When I got them as babies, I somehow knew that as a parent, I was being given a special charge. I was to throw all that I could muster to their well being, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I admit, that spiritual well-being takes an open hand since none of us has all the cosmic answers. I can only nurture them so they grow into good men and develop a consciousness of their own discovery within their soul to something greater. I do that through my own spiritual path and inspiration through Christ.
Emotionally, I strive to believe in them. I am learning who they are, and what they can accomplish. It is not mine to define them, but to witness them. It is mine to love them, cherish them and celebrate them and as an influencer of their sensitive self-worth, to do my best to make them as emotionally confident and grounded as possible.
Their physical well being is the most obvious and tactical. I care for that part of their well being every day. I make sure they are nourished, protected and healthy. In times when they have been sick, I have been amazed that an almost parental super power kicks in. I have been soaked in vomit, diarrhea and wiped snot. For some reason, from my sons, those things have not fazed me.
They are my charges, my charges from God. Kelly is your charge from God. In my opinion, there is no greater accomplishment that you could achieve that to be with her at the end of her life, and have her feel “Thank God for my mom,” and for you to know at the end of your life that you did all in your power to protect her.
Obviously, you are not there now. Your behavior is dark and evil and belongs more in the plot of a horror movie than in a mother/daughter relationship. That is your current legacy to bear and to rectify.
For your daughter, and for whom I do not presume to speak, I believe a change in you would bring forgiveness, as exemplary, on her part, as that sounds. One of her first comments to me was how she holds the recording of you to remind herself to stay away. She said, “ I will delete it when I find myself not missing her. As much as … she hurt me she is the only mother I had.”
It is time for you to find that higher calling as a mother. Step up. Your family needs you. Your family is plagued with a woman suffering from a terrible disease. The disease is ugly, painful, debilitating and it ruins the heart. That woman is not Kelly, it is you. The disease is not the horrible one of Lupus which Kelly has, it is the disease of Homphobia that you have. Kelly’s disease takes a lot to manage it and she needs a good deal of love and help around her. Your disease can be cured by a change of heart.
In the scheme of things, you have the option to institute a healing where Kelly cannot. You have the option of change. Kelly may not be able to find relief from the physical hell she has been through, but you can revolutionize her world anyway.
She needs a miraculous physical cure, but even more than that, she needs a mom who loves her. She deserves both.
(Note: A friend of Kelly’s set up a gofundme account after seeing the video, it is here: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/tjt5/disabled-woman-need-help )
Photo: Flickr/Vicki&Chuck Rogers
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