I just came across this story that I wrote a few months ago – and today was the first time I had read it since I wrote it. I was entering a writing contest (for which I never heard back…lol), and it had to be a fictional story that began and ended with the words “Hell found me.” As I went back and read the story today, alot of the information is very real and true in today’s world. Check it out and let me know what you think – I’m curious. Do you think that legislation like I wrote about could ever be passed in this state, or this country, in regards to same-sex families? How close is this story to fiction, or to reality, in your opinion?
Hell found me.
I had been living here for most of my adult life, the deep South. Most of the time my life was my own, and I kept to myself with it. It was bad enough to be a Democratic woman living in a very red, conservative, Republican region; but it was compounded on a daily basis to be a married lesbian in a state that had declared war on the LGBT community some time ago. The first step had been when lawmakers created a Constitutional amendment for the state which proclaimed that marriage was now and forever to be an institution to be entered into solely between a man and a woman. Many states had adopted this position, while those of us who were truly affected by it would fight like hell to have it reversed and declared to be the unconstitutional dribble that it was.
Soon after the state constitutional amendments were made, radical conservative groups began the next step in their deep hatred for same sex couples – they wanted to criminalize not only any persons who went ahead and got married anyway, but also those who performed the ceremonies. These folks wanted participants to be deemed criminals, punishable with jail time. When this legislation was first rumored, I thought that there was no way it could ever happen, and I wasn’t going to worry (considering I had gotten married to my wife in Connecticut, where it was legal). Even when I tried not to think about it, I would still think and worry about it. Legislation, as ridiculous as it is, was slowly going in the way of the right-wing conservatives, and soon there was discussion that they also wanted to make sure that same-sex couples not only could not marry, but also could not raise children. Children from previous heterosexual relationships were to be taken from their same-sex parent and custody automatically granted to the remaining heterosexual parent; children who had been adopted by a same-sex family were to be taken from the home and placed into foster care or handed over to a family member who the local officials deemed suitable. Same-sex couples who had undertaken conception through means of artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization would be charged with violating the new “family code,” and their child would be taken at birth and placed into foster care. It no longer mattered that we had spent countless hours campaigning and protesting for equality, fighting and screaming for not only our rights but for those of our children. The voting was over and the argument for inequality had triumphed. What did this mean for me, for my wife, for my boys, and for the future of our unborn child that my wife now carried within her womb? Every day was a waiting game, waiting to be discovered like a family during World War II hiding from the Nazis in war-torn Germany.
Today was my day to be discovered.
Hell found me.
A knock came on the door at approximately 10 AM. An officer stood at the door on my tidy front porch, with the welcome sign to his left, and a glass storm door separating us. He held in his hands a wad of papers, and verified my name before he proceeded to tell me how things were about to go. “Ms. Clark?” “Yes, that’s me,” I said. “Can you verify your full name please?” “Well,” I said, “perhaps. But not before I get you to show some identification as to who YOU are.” He soon flashed his badge and I.D., and then proceeded. “We have gotten reports that the occupants of this home are engaged in a same-sex relationship and that there are children in the home, so we were required by law to come and investigate to assure that you are complying with the laws of this state regarding morality in these types of situations.” I was dumbfounded, perplexed. “So you’re telling me that my nosy neighbors turned me in for being a lesbian?” I asked. “Ma’am,” said the officer, “I can’t divulge as to where our information came from, but I need for you to verify – confirm or deny – that you are engaged in a same-sex relationship, and/or if there are any children living in this domicile.” I stood there for several moments, what seemed like hours, with my mouth hanging open a little bit. Oh my God. It had really come to this. I was here, faced with a situation that I never in my wildest dreams thought would ever occur. Thoughts were racing through my frantic mind – do I lie on myself, on my wife, on our family, just to be able to close this door and watch this officer walk back to his squad car and drive away from my home? Or do I stand there, tell the truth – tell MY truth – and face whatever consequences that the laws of this god-forsaken state throw at me?
Hell found me.
I only hesitated for a moment. Then the words flew out of my mouth. “Yes, I am married. My wife’s name is Erikka. My two sons are Nick and Noah. We have a baby on the way, due in November. Are you married? Have YOU ever had anyone come to your house and violate YOUR privacy, like you are doing to ME right now?? Do you think that YOU have any more of a right to be married than I do?” He stood speechless, stunned at the bold answers that had come hurtling towards him, leaving him not a breath with which to answer. After the responses sank in, he finally found his voice, and it was as if I had not spoken anything other than “yes” “married” and “wife.” He cleared his throat and said, “Ms. Clark, I am sure that you are aware of the laws and statutes of the state in regards to same-sex marriage and children. You are obviously willingly and knowingly participating in said acts of unlawfulness, and I am going to have to take you in and charge you with separate violations. Are any children in the home at this time?” My anger was building, and it took every ounce of self-restraint to contain it. “NO, there are no children home right now. He is in school. And if you’re going to make me come with you, then I will need to make a call to arrange for his care after school. I am not asking to do this either. Wait right here.” I turned around, closed the door, and calmly walked into the bedroom to call a friend to take care of Noah until Erikka could get to him. Once I had secured these arrangements, I walked back towards the front door. This was it. This was where I put my money where my mouth was – this was where all of our protesting, shouting, and fighting for equality would all come into play. Were we really willing to do whatever we had to for our civil rights, for our equality, as well as for every other person’s in this state – in this country for that matter??? Was I really willing to face jail time for simply admitting that yes, I love this person, deeply and madly, and I don’t give a damn if the conservatives in my state say that I can? The time was here. The time was now. I was ready.
I walked back to the front door, went out onto the porch, closed it behind me and locked it before turning to face the officer. “I will come with you, but you should know that my attorney will be called, as well as every equality and civil rights group that I have contact with – and there are many. The media will also be contacted – news, print, online. Until we are all equal, none of us are, and I will expose any attack against my family – and I WILL name names.” He made me turn around, told me that I needed to just come along quietly and make this easier on everyone, including myself. He obviously did not know who he was arresting that day.
My mother had been telling me, from the time that I came out as a lesbian, that I was going to hell. Maybe she was right. I was being arrested for speaking truthfully about my marriage and my family.
Hell found me.