I remember when my mother came out to me.
I don't remember the date or the time. I don't even remember my exact age (I was either 10 or 11). I do remember that we were in the basement of our Brooklyn home and I was crying like my mom just stabbed my hamster through the heart.
That heartbreak I remember so well-that swelling in my chest and tears on my cheeks-wasn't from my mother's announcement that she was a lesbian. It wasn't from the news that her live-in best friend was her lover. It wasn't from the realization that our lives were going to drastically change.
In that moment, the anguish I felt was from one thing and one thing only: My older sister knew before me.
I remember sitting on the couch, my mother and her partner on the chair across from me. Their eyes were sincere, searching for the way they would put this to me delicately. I waited, and when they told me, I burst into tears and ran. "Why are you crying, Anna?" my mother asked sweetly with a laugh.
"Because you told her first," I responded angrily between the salty streams.
OK, for a young girl who hadn't hit puberty yet, those feelings seem pretty powerful-and I'm probably amplifying the intensity of my emotions as I recollect. But the moral of this memory is what's important above all else: I wasn't irate with mom for being a lesbian. That, despite my Catholic upbringing (which I left behind at 14), I didn't judge my mom for her sexuality. That I didn't hate the new woman in my mother's life-the woman my sisters and I would come to known as "Ma," and who spent the last two decades putting a smile on my mom's face. That I didn't metaphorically spit on our new family dynamic, which not only included Ma, but her son-our brother-as well.
The moral is: I was only upset because I wasn't the first to know. And then I got over it.
There are many people who wholeheartedly believe my family and families like mine are sinful-an abomination against their God (just read the papers published by Family Research Council, a Christian-based organization "promoting the traditional family unit.") It's not a belief I share, of course, nor one I can find any grain of truth in. But I won't argue the semantics of religion because we all have the liberty to subscribe to whatever spiritual guidance we choose. What I will say, though, is that I would love to welcome those who are against my type of family to share a meal with us and see how we interact, see how we love each other, and see how there really is nothing different between us in the grand scheme of things.
Like the families that shared my block, my family is a loud, boisterous, fiery mix of Italians who are strongly opinionated and frustratingly stubborn. We fight and we give in and we cast the evil eye. But we love each other and we're happy and we're all OK. We're normal, whatever "normal" is nowadays.
My moms raised me, my sisters, and my brother the best way they could. Much like the opposite-sex families my peers grew up in, we all had our issues. I was a difficult child to handle. I was angry at the world, angry at myself, angry at my friends, angry at my biological father. I was sad most of the time and had a massive chip on my shoulder. I fought with my moms every chance I had because I couldn't get a grip on my teenage years-or the clinical depression I was diagnosed with. I was a handful, as they say.
And there were mistakes on both our parts, as one can expect in any family raging with teenage hormones. My moms couldn't understand why I felt or acted the way I did-not that I gave them much opportunity to-and they were sometimes disconnected from the reality I was struggling with. But they tried. And they love me, flaws and all. They love me even when I throw on my comedian hat and use them as the source of my jokes at holiday dinners.
They pushed me to follow my dreams of being a journalist, even when that meant I'd take a year off from college after graduating high school-even when it meant I'd take a detour and attend art school to misguidedly pursue a career in painting. They never restricted my creativity, and taught me how to be a strong, independent woman. They supported me every inch of the way, even when I made my mistakes with boys and jobs. They didn't bat an eye when I decided to convert to Wicca at the age of 14. They don't bat an eye when I get a new tattoo or piercing even if it doesn't sit well with them. They gave me advice when I wanted it-and advice when I never asked for it.
They let me explore the world the best way I could. And I am so grateful for that.
Now I'm a 29-year-old freelance journalist and graphic designer living in Philadelphia with my long-term boyfriend and five cats. I am a professional woman who continues to explore my surroundings, who continues to go after my dreams, and who continues to strive to become more than my circumstances allow. I am a well-adjusted, kind, mostly crass person with a big heart who cries when runts of the litter are left out of the fun. I have a soft spot for animals, and an even softer spot for lost souls trying to find their way. I use my profession as a writer to advocate for the truth, and for the rights of people who are overlooked or controlled by a society that doesn't-or isn't willing to-understand their lives.
I am an amazing person because my two moms believe in me. I am an amazing person because my two moms let me be who I am and who I want to be.
No one-not the Family Research Council, not the people who've told me to my face that my family is "disgusting," not the "friends" I've lost because of my moms' sexuality-can tell me otherwise.
Annamarya Scaccia is an award-winning freelance journalist and graphic designer who's written extensively on sexual violence, reproductive health & rights, marriage equality, constitutional issues, body image, and gender roles, among other rousing topics. Her work has appeared in/on Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper, Prince George's Suite Magazine, RHRealityCheck.org, TheDailyFemme.com, BLURT, and Origivation. Follow her on Twitter @sitswithpasta.