Tiffany Nelson – Catholic Community Services (Currently Group Health Cooperative)
Twenty years ago I began working in a rural town at Catholic Community Services (1989). I was recently out to my parents and in a committed relationship. I was hired to develop a volunteer HIV/AIDS based volunteer program. I made sure that I would be accepted as a lesbian. There weren’t any issues since this was important to the program and a part of their social justice work. I felt very connected and accepted by the staff as I tried to be open and relied on my rural upbringing to bind us in commonality.
The struggle came when my partner and I decided to have a child together. After I became pregnant, a lovely woman who I was close to approached me and said that she didn’t approve of my choice.
She explained to me that she had prayed about the issue, yet still believed that lesbians and gays shouldn’t be parents because she believes that homosexuals aren’t good examples and shouldn’t bring a life into the world. I was surprised and taken back — she had never shown any discomfort – but I had crossed the line for her. I reminded her of the large number of unwanted children that are brought into the world and then neglected or abused. She listened carefully. I shared with her that this pregnancy was carefully planned because my partner and I believe that we can share our love with this child. I explained that our child will be surrounded by loving parents and our extended family. I ended by saying that this child was starting off with more love than many other children.
My friend came back a few days later and said that she realized that what I was saying was true. She became one of my biggest supporters during my pregnancy. She was fantastic, and even helped throw a baby shower for me with my partner and my mother.
Many years after I had left the area, I received a letter from this woman’s daughter. She thanked me for the work I did in helping her mother open her heart. She said that I had made a huge impact on her mother’s life, and that my influence gave her hope that one day she might be able to come out to her mother.
Tiffany Nelson | DIRECTOR
Content of Care, Group Health Cooperative