The carpet scratches my legs as I sit with them crossed, my back leaning against the front of the couch, and my eyes trained on the television screen just two yards away. The 40’’ flat screen TV flashes the faces of thousands of people who all congregated in front of the White House.
My little sister lays on her stomach with her head in her hands, tilted up toward the mounted screen as a woman with curly, shoulder-length red hair steps forward in a professional black pant suit. Her blue eyes shine in the sunlight of the clear sky, and her smile is radiant as it stretches across her face. The woman steps in front of an aging man with wrinkly skin, and graying hair, who holds out the bible in front of him. She places her hand on the bible and raises the other as she repeats the words:
“I do solemnly swear…”
I hold back my flinch as my father scoffs behind me. He sits in his brown leather lazy boy with a scowl on his face.
“I can’t believe the world has come to this,” he grumbles. “Not only has the country elected a woman, but they voted for a lesbian to run our nation!”
I remain silent, ignoring him as she continues swearing in:
“…and to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I finally smile as she finishes, because she immediately turns to her family who stands right behind her. Her family that never stopped believing in her despite the discrimination they continually face. She walks over to her wife, and places a chaste kiss on her lips, and takes her hand to raise it towards the sky. Her wife, a petite blonde with a pixie cut, turns towards a young boy to her left and grabs his hand.
“I think it’s fabulous that there’s finally a woman in charge. Not just one but two in the White House who have such political influence is astounding!” my mother softly claims. She stands behind the couch with her hands on the back. Her brown eyes stare at the TV with pride— she’s always been one for equality and feminism. However, I don’t think she quite understands how important this is to the LGBTQIA+ community. To have someone from the community be voted into such a powerful position is groundbreaking.
“No, honey. It’s disgusting. How do you think it looks to other countries to have a lesbian run one of the world’s most powerful nations? We look like idiots,” my dad retorts.
“You don’t understand, dear,” my mother tries to calmly say. “This doesn’t show stupidity, it’s revolutionary. It demonstrates diversity and equality…”
I mentally facepalm as the two bicker about this. I turn to my little sister who hasn’t said a word. I tap her calf that lays beside me and ask “you okay, Bee?”
At first she doesn’t answer or react, so I tap her again. She sits up and positions herself next to me against the couch. When she first looks at me I have to double-take, her emerald eyes are glassy. She leans closer to me and whispers so quietly that I strain to hear.
“Is this how they’re going to react if I come out to them?” she brokenly asks me. My chest constricts as I listen to her voice, rough with emotion. I run my hand through her dark, wavy hair as she continues. “Dad won’t be able to look at me. He won’t be able to stand the sight of me. He’ll be embarrassed of his own daughter. While mum will be more than ecstatic to use me as a social movement in the neighborhood and community. She’ll tell everyone about me—all the mothers, fathers, everyone!” Her voice cracks at the end.
I look up for a moment to see if our parents have noticed yet. Of course they haven’t, they’re still too intent on attempting to prove each other wrong. Focusing back on my sister, I wrap my arm around her shoulders and bring her to my side.
Rubbing her arm gently, I attempt to soothe her: “Oh, Bee. If they don’t accept you or they take advantage of you, you’ll always have me. Dad can’t avoid you forever. You’re still his daughter, his flesh and blood. He’s just too ignorant right now to see how you’re the same person you’ve always been, you just so happen to prefer girls.” I pause for a moment to let that digest. “With our mother, now, she’s a different story. You’ve got to be direct and straight to the point—yell at her, scream, cry, throw things. She’ll get it eventually.”
I pulled her away from me a bit to look into her eyes. “Never be afraid to be who you are. If things get rough, it’ll pass. Everything does eventually, it’s simply a matter of surviving through it,” I say as I wipe her tear stained cheeks. She smiles and hugs me.
“I love you,” I hear her whisper.
I chuckle and smile, as I reply, “Always and forever.”
We hold each other and watch the rest of the celebration on the television. We filter out the voices of our parents, and smile contentedly at the screen as we watch the new president hug her wife and son. As the new presidential family waves to the thousands of people before them, some holding rainbow flags, and signs of support from the community, they look genuinely happy. I pray that my sister will find that sort of happiness in her future, but right now I pray that she finds acceptance within herself and within the rest of our family.
I hear my sister say something that makes my heart happy.
“That woman is my hero,” she says. “One day, I’ll live as content and happy a life as she does. I’ll be successful. The world can’t stop me.”
Her declaration of self-acceptance.
No one can stop her.
No one will stop her.