Dinah & Malila / United States
“I have had to listen to my father making homophobic comments, growing up. As a teenager, it was particularly difficult to hear these disparaging comments as I was coming to terms with my own sexuality. As as result, I harbored a lot of internalized homophobia.
I have been battling my father’s homophobia all my life.
I would say it stemmed from his Christian (Catholic) values. Thus, he would tell me being gay is sinful and dirty. As a teenager, I grew up in the gay and lesbian neighborhood of Chicago so his homophobic comments and slurs (terms like fags and other derogatory comments) were a constant as he felt the need to verbalize his homophobia every time we encountered someone LGBT. The comments he made began to reflect who I was and it really took me years to love and accept and be authentically proud of who I loved as a result of these words.
When I finally came out, I was still living at home. I had a girlfriend at the time and always feared that we would get caught and I would get kicked out with no where to sleep or live. No one should have to worry that who they love might end in no financial support or homelessness yet this is the fear that consumed me.
I’ve always had to hide this part of my identity with him despite the fact that we had a pretty close relationship. As I became engaged and started making plans to have a family with my wife, I thought I would allow him the chance to accept my life by attending our wedding – he declined, he chose not to be there or walk me down the aisle. To this day, I haven’t gotten a congratulations or acknowledgement that I am a happily married woman.
there is not a day that goes by where we don’t have to come out of the closet to dispel assumptions about our marriage. this has made us more determined to fight for equality by launching @GETLOSTWITHLESBIANS a project to document being lesbian and traveling the world as an inter-racial couple of color in many countries that are homophobic to let other LGBTI couples know that we shouldn’t limit our exploration due to the criminalization of homosexuality but rather, inform ourselves about navigating that in a way that allows us to see and be seen everywhere. We hope to change perceptions by sharing our story through courageous conversations and see more couples like us being proud across the globe. we must shatter ignorance to save lives. this is our fundamental life calling.”