Not An Ally

, , , , , | Related | June 23, 2017

Between the ages of 13-15 I began to realize I was attracted to women as well as men (I am female) but had no one to talk about it in my family, which is extremely religious with southern roots, and not very accepting.

I would always hear the adults badmouthing anyone “different” and saying they should “get what they deserved.” It scared me into being what they all thought a little girl should be and pretty much just keeping quiet, I honestly never spoke to my mom much unless I had some medical issue I couldn’t solve on my own because she was the worst and always told me that a little girl should be “seen and not heard.” My “being good” earned me the love and affection of the adults in the family and they all fawned over me and babied me as long as I was well behaved and fit the image they had grown accustomed to.

As a child I had a close relationship with my first cousins, my dad’s sister’s kids, and when I was about 15, I broke down and told my aunt’s oldest daughter over the phone that I was attracted to women. She was stunned into silence but seemed accepting. I felt relieved. I thought I finally had someone to talk to.

A few mornings later, my mom storms into my room, rips my cell phone off the charger and rips the computer modem out off the wall, then leaves. I think maybe I left some chore undone and quickly get out of bed, scrambling to find out what it is, while my mom watches me silently.

Soon she calls me into the living room and produces my missing cell phone, then demands I dial the number to a girl I like, whose name I previously mentioned to my cousin. She speaks to the girl’s mother and makes me listen as her parents began screaming at her. She gets the mother’s attention and tells her “If your daughter ever calls my daughter again, I’ll call the cops and send my daughter to a girls’ home.”

I have no idea what a girls’ home is but I am already freaked out and don’t want to find out. Turns out my cousin relayed our conversation to my aunt who called my mom and the rest of our family, making sure to cover all family in THREE STATES. Everyone went ballistic, my mom threatened me, my dad threatened the other girl, and the phone was ringing off the hook with calls from nosy family members.

Fast forward to last year. My same aunt’s middle daughter is discovered to be a closeted lesbian with a girlfriend and a slew of pictures of the two of them all over social media, some involving little to no clothing. Before anyone can say a word, my aunt loses it and goes on this tirade about how everyone should mind their own business and is suddenly the worlds biggest supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. Of course no one says anything because “Everyone knows how [Aunt] is when it comes to her kids.” So everything gets swept under the rug.

Dude, f*** this family.

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They’re Nacho What’s Going On

, | Related | April 13, 2017

I’ve just gotten a bowl of nachos at the counter and am on my way upstairs to our table when someone on their way down reaches out and snatches a chip out of my bowl.

I turn around to see my cousin, flanked by two confused-looking classmates of hers, grinning as she pops the chip in her mouth. I shoot her a quick pouty-face before turning and continuing on my way.

She later tells me she had a good laugh about her classmates, as they didn’t know who I was and thought that my cousin had a habit of snatching food off complete stranger’s plates.

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The Game Industry Isn’t A Game

, , , | Related | April 3, 2017

(I work for a company that publishes video games, which is a job my husband’s family, mostly being non-gamers, don’t really seem to understand but are supportive of anyway. One of his cousins has a son in his late teens who is interested in games, and she has always been very determined to have him make a career out of it (since he is “so good at video games”). We don’t otherwise have much in common with them, and they live a ways away, so although we are all friendly and pleasant, we don’t really talk or see each other much. My husband and I are out for dinner with her one day when she’s in town.)

Cousin: “Did you know [Son] is in school for games?”

Me: “Oh? You mean like… a programming course or something?” *sincerely hoping it is this, since a lot of schools alleging to help people learn to make games tend to be scams*

Cousin: “Something like that! He made a game that everyone there says is really good, and they tried to submit it to [Well-Known Gaming Conference] but they said he was too young. And that’s the only reason! It’s REALLY good. So I told him I’d talk to you about it. You can show it to your company and they can pay him for it and sell it.”

Me: “Oh. Uh. Well. We have a lot of projects in the works right now, and there’s a pitching process we ask everyone to go through that—”

Cousin: *defensively* “He’s your family! All you have to do is get them to look at it and they’ll see how great it is. This is an amazing opportunity for him.”

(Even though I can see my husband start to get annoyed at how manipulative she’s being, I reluctantly, and against my better judgement, agree to at least show her son’s game to my colleagues. I reason that it might actually be very good, and everyone has to start somewhere. Unfortunately, when I receive the game a few days later, it’s NOT very good. In fact, it’s made up of stolen artwork and sprites from other games, is very simple, and very, very buggy. In short, it’s exactly what you’d expect someone’s first ever game as a student to look like. And that’s okay because everyone starts somewhere, and in nearly ten years in the industry I have never met a developer who’s very first efforts were anything but rudimentary. Because we want to be encouraging, however, my coworkers and I take the time to provide some constructive, positive feedback, including a list of free online resources for things like learning to code and helpful tools. However…)

Cousin: “I can’t believe you turned him down! How could you?! He’s absolutely crushed!”

Me: “I’m sorry he’s upset, but we are not going to be offering him anything based on what he’s shown us. He shouldn’t take it personally… We’re a business, and we turn down a lot of proposals every week. That doesn’t mean we don’t want him to keep working and learning, and then he can show—”

Cousin: “Oh, because you’re SO PERFECT and he has to work SO HARD just to be on your level for you to even consider!”

(She hung up on me before I could say anything else and refused to speak to either me or my husband for months. When she saw us at a family gathering, both she and her son acted as if nothing had happened. It was a bizarre incident that really solidified to me never to mix family with business again, no matter what that business happens to be, or if you think you’re doing someone a favour.)

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In Soviet Russia, Watermelon Likes You!

, , , , , | Related | June 23, 2016

(It’s Memorial Day weekend and the whole family is spending the weekend together, including my cousin and her four-year-old daughter. We are in the kitchen preparing snacks before we go outside to enjoy the beautiful day.)

Cousin: “Who wants watermelon?”

Kids: “Me!”

Cousin: “Who doesn’t like watermelon?”

Four-Year-Old Daughter: “Communists!”


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