Talking with My Grandparents

Last weekend, I sat down and had a fun conversation with my Grandma and Grandpa Peterson when I was up in Amery. Clarence and Lucy are my paternal grandparents and still the strong figures in our huge family. (They had 11 kids!)

Our family has dealt with its share of experiences, both good and bad. Clarence and Lucy have been a big part of keeping our family strong and vibrant during those times, including the times when family members have come out of the closet.

Lucy opened up the debate with an analogy harkening back to her days as a farm-wife, “This is just like chickens. When there is one small chick in the brooder, all the big strong chicks pick on it, drive it away from food and water, and eventually kill it. Gays and lesbians are treated the same way and it’s wrong.” I was a bit shocked at my Grandma’s boldness but then she revealed a little of her history as she talked about the story of Anne Frank.

It was a revealing moment when she said, “Anne had to hide in the walls because she was a Jew and because someone decided it was wrong to be a Jew. The walls may have changed but are we going to make gays and lesbians hide behind them today?”

As always, my grandparents were full of lots of good analogies and stories, but after a while we got right into the heart of the ban. To my grandparents it is still a "marriage amendment" and when they read it they both actually agreed with it-- except for the second sentence.

To my grandparents, and as I expect that you find with most senior citizens, marriage is between a man and woman. But my grandparents know a lot of other people they love that will be hurt by the second sentence. They have straight, elderly friends who have lived together for years with a church wedding but no marriage license because of social security reasons. And there are gay and lesbian members of our family.

Clarence summed it up best when he said, “I used to think it was wrong for Scott and Brian [my uncle] to live together but now I am accustomed to it. Why change it?” Lucy agreed saying that if a “gay person has a partner and that couple stays together then they should have rights [health care, legal protections, etc].”

Overall my afternoon with my grandparents was an enjoyable and informative time for me. I marveled at the courage my grandparents have in bucking the thoughts and trends of many in their generation about the rights of gay and lesbian persons. I look forward to continuing the conversation with them.




At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Good for your grandparents, Eric!!! They are very smart people. They are also compassionate people. I agree. We seniors could be impacted by this ban in many ways we don't even know about yet!!! Lots of us (seniors) live in loving, committed relationships and don't get married only because we could really suffer economically from that! Let's share our stories!


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