I’ve been seeing so many things lately in which people talk about how Orphan Black has helped rebuild their relationships with their families—has helped them come out, has opened a dialogue, has helped their parents better understand them and accept them for who they are. And it makes me so happy to read these stories, it really does.
But then sometimes I step back a bit and I start feeling a little sad. Because I thought that story could have been mine, too. I thought watching Orphan Black with my parents, who have had very little exposure to queer people in their lives, would help me come out to them, would help them understand my world. Especially with Cosima and Delphine? Come on. Delphine explains bisexuality with science, my parents are science people, how could they not get that?
But they didn’t.
My mom loved the first few episodes of the show—she loved the story and the plot and the conspiracy. She loved the portrayal of Sarah as a protagonist with flaws and a past, as a woman who abandoned her daughter once, even though she loved her more than anything, and still deserved the chance to be her mother again (ohhh boy did this hit home for her).
But then I asked what she thought about Felix. And part of me wishes I hadn’t. Felix made her so uncomfortable and she tried so hard to not be “rude” about it, I guess, but even the most measured, guarded statements from her hurt. So much. And I couldn’t even bring myself to keep watching with my parents, couldn’t bring myself to sit next to them while they watched Cophine fall in love because that hits too close to home and what if… what if they don’t react the way I hope they will? What if they react like they did to Felix (as I always expected them to, always feared they would)? Because if they can’t understand Cosima and Delphine, how could they ever understand? How could they ever understand me?
And that broke my heart. This show means so much to me and I had so much hope for what it could have meant for us, for my family, hope that maybe it could have repaired the connection between us that I had previously thought was irrevocably broken. But it didn’t. It only amplified the silence between us.
But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay because I realized that I can come here and be surrounded by people who do get it, who get it so profoundly and intimately. And I realized that it’s okay if I’m not ready to try again with my parents right now—it’s okay if they’re not ready right now—because I have you. I have a family that I chose, who chose each other, and isn’t that really what Orphan Black is about? Finding your family, regardless of blood or genetics?
At first I didn’t want to talk about this because I didn’t want to admit that I sometimes can’t read your stories because they make me sad (I mean, that’s a bit selfish of me, isn’t it?). And I, of course, agree with all of you. Orphan Black has changed my life. In many ways it saved my life. And I’m so proud of this show for what it’s done for so many people. But it didn’t fix everything, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to fix everything. Just because this show doesn’t heal my family doesn’t mean that nothing ever will. And even though I cannot truly be myself around the family I was born into, I have another one waiting for me right here.
So I guess this is a reminder that it’s okay if your story is a little different, if it didn’t go quite the way you planned. But actually, this is another thank you to Orphan Black, and in particular for the family it’s created for those of us whose own families just aren’t quite ready yet.