By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
Years and years ago, when I was in college (as an adult), I joined a sorority. Now, it isn’t the kind of sorority that most people think of when they hear the term. It wasn’t related to my university, but rather, an international community-based, service-based group of women of all ages. I met and made a friend in one of my night classes who was a part of this group, and she invited me to one of her meetings. I enjoyed the friendships that these women shared, and soon they invited me to join them – so I became a sister in Beta Sigma Phi. We had meetings twice a month at different sisters’ homes, service projects, and social outings. Up until that, my whole life consisted of being Mom, wife, and college student, so it gave me an outlet to just be around other moms and wives while enjoying fun and friendship.
After being in that chapter for several years, I sadly had to step back and take a leave while I was going through my divorce. I missed my friends dearly, and because of living so far away from all of them, knew that I would probably see them rarely after I left. After being out of it for a while, Holly found a chapter near my new house that we decided to go visit. From the first visit, we really enjoyed the ladies and were soon back into the swing of sorority and joining them. Sure we missed our old chapter, and Holly eventually went back to that one when she moved back to their area, but it was nice to be involved again.
One of the awesome things about sorority that I always enjoyed was the Sweetheart Ball that takes place every February. When I left my original chapter, I missed it dearly. The city council that my new chapter belonged to did not have a ball, so I missed it even more knowing that it wasn’t an option. A few years ago, the new group decided that we wanted to go to the ball, and that was the first time that I would be there with Erikka. Needless to say, there was a lot of staring, and not near the friendly “sisterness” that I had known for all of those years previously. And we looked CUTE! I think we were engaged that year…
Fast forward to 2012. In the two or three years since our chapter attended the Sweetheart Ball, we have left it up to the chapter sweetheart to decide if they wanted to go or not. This year, our sweetheart decided that she wanted to go to the ball, so plans were made and tickets were purchased. This would be our second time as a group to join, and everyone seemed pretty excited about getting dressed up to go – us included! It was going to be the first time that I had seen my sisters from my former chapter in a very long time, and I hoped that there would still be that connection from so long ago. I knew that there were quite a few of the ladies who are pretty conservative, and who either don’t approve of my marriage to Erikka, or who don’t understand (or want to understand). Nevertheless, I was looking forward to seeing them and hoping that it would be good.
Last Friday night, after spending hours preparing and primping and getting into our new clothes for the ball, we were off. We dropped off Noah and Harrison at my mom’s, and drove to the country club where the event was taking place. Erikka looked beautiful in a dark, navy blue shimmery dress, and I coordinated with her in dark navy blue and black. We looked fabulous! We found Holly and Tony as soon as we arrived, who showed us to our table – everything looked so nice. We had dinner and soon all of the sweethearts were lining up in the hallway with their escorts for the traditional presentation of each chapter’s sweetheart. Our sweetheart is single and had come to the ball solo, so we had decided ahead of time that I would escort her in. Let me tell you, walking in with a chick in a formal on my arm, while a couple of hundred eyes are staring…well, it’s a bit unnerving. We laughed and giggled as we walked in and stood among all of the other boy-girl couples that were around us. After everyone was presented, they then announced that it was time for the Sweetheart Dance – what the what??? Nobody had told us that we were supposed to dance! So then we were REALLY getting stared at, but we did it! I was soon rescued from the awkward staring by another sister’s husband, who cut in and finished out the dance with our sweetheart.
Shortly after all of the sweetheart formalities, we all went out into the hallway and took pictures. When we went back in, we got out on the dancefloor with everyone else and danced and laughed. A slow song came on, and I walked over to our table to take Erikka by the hand. We went out onto the dancefloor, and spun our way slowly around it, amid all of the other couples. Soon I could feel the disapproving glances and stares coming from some of the older couples, and could even see some whispering. The most prominent was from an older lady, who was also a tiara-wearing sweetheart from her chapter. We turned while dancing and I saw her looking at us with a look of absolute disgust on her face. She then said something to her husband in his ear, and then he turned to look at us with the same look. They stared at us with that look, and talking to each other, for the remainder of the dance. Sure, I wanted to walk over and say something to them…or punch them in the face…but of course my wife would not have let me do that. I mean, really?? Come on folks. We’re SO normal. I guess that is why it still surprises me when people are so blatantly and outright ugly towards us. When we got back to the table, I told my sisters about it. One of them asked me if we ever get used to that from people, and it really made me think.
My response, when asked this question, is typically, “Yes, I’m used to it.” But I don’t want to be used to it! I get outraged every time someone looks at me with disdain or disgust whenever they see me with my wife, maybe holding her hand or with my arm around her. We are people dammit, just like anyone else! I should have walked over and told her how rude and ignorant it was of her and her husband to behave that way, and that it is 2012 so they need to get over themselves. I don’t want my kids to ever see me keep quiet and LET someone look at us, talk about us, or be ugly towards any of us and think it is acceptable behavior. All of that “do unto others” crap that we grow up hearing suddenly goes out the window when it’s something that we don’t like or accept – I am sure we are all guilty of it. So I will make a conscious decision to “do unto others” in all situations, in hopes that they will “do unto ME” in turn.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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