27. & 26. my original sister (& my first sister-in-law)

(#27 & 26 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)

Long before I was discovered by my biological father’s other children, I’d always wondered what having a sister would be like. Someone to share—and keep—secrets with, talk about boys, do each other’s hair (Kidding! Well, sorta), and have that kind of bond that no one can break. (As I write this, I contemplate whether this is one of the reasons I was always drawn to women as friends. Or maybe women are just nicer—but I digress.)

So imagine my surprise when at the age of 41, I found out I had not one but three sisters! But I was totally prepared for this because I’d had decades of practice.

You see, I already had a sister—Debby Johnson.


Some of our many moments--and hairstyles--through the years

Some of our many moments–and hairstyles/colors–through the years

For the better part of three decades, we’ve been friends—died-in-the-wool, wine-drinking, child-raising, adventure-taking*, stick-with-each-other-through-thick-and-thin siblings. We’ve survived one coming-out each, weathered divorces, reclaimed our individual spirituality, and found love. And here we are. Still friends. Still “sisters.” (In fact, we’ve theorized that we’ll eventually join our other “sister” Pam in The Home someday where we’ll all ignore each other while we’re on our giant cell phones drinking wine.)

While we’d always been close…

VBS, circa 2000

VBS, circa 2000

…Debby and I got really close a year or so after I came out. It was a bit of a rough patch for all of us; but our forgiveness of each other was the ultimate test of our friendship. And then, like nothing had ever happened—poof—we’ve been inseparable ever since. As we dealt with our wayward sons and crumbling marriages, we emptied countless bottles of wine, lamenting, laughing, and…watching the DirectTV™ logo try to hit the exact corner of the screen. (Don’t ask.)

And it was during that time that I made Debby turn gay. Not really—but that’s what some people said. But through lots of conversations and validation by Facebook, Debby trusted me enough to declare her authentic self. What an honor! She had been such an ardent encourager of me being my authentic self and I was more than glad to return the favor.

And then, a couple years later, I moved to Dallas, leaving her alone in the small town we lived in. It was hard to go because I felt like I’d abandoned her.

But, my scheming ensured she wouldn’t be there long. You see, I found someone who would love her, respect her, and put her on the pedestal she deserved. Oh and who would eventually woo her to Dallas.

What I didn’t count on was how much I would come love the person she would eventually marry.

June 26, 2015 was an incredible day as we got to celebrate the legal marriage of Debby and Zanté

June 26, 2015 was an incredible day as we got to celebrate the legal marriage of Debby and Zanté

Like Debby, Zanté has chosen a vocation where she can express her commitment to children and a church family to commit to and labor within. She is a woman of deep spirituality that compliments Debby’s. A woman who is loyal and trustworthy (with Debby first and foremost and with our friendship as well). A woman who will do anything for Debby and be the rest-of-her-life companion—in good times and less good times.


And both of these sister-friends have been deeply encouraging of the calling that has been revealed to me (or that I’ve awoken to)…

…one telling me

I don’t want you to go—who’s going to do what you do here? But I know you need to go.

And the other telling me

You know you have been prepared for this; we’ll miss you but you know you must go.

(I’ll let you, gentle reader, figure out who is who.)

I love my biological sisters so deeply…but Debby is my original sister, through the bonds of family that are somehow just as strong. Because we chose each other. And as a result, that means that I have a “sister-in-law” whom I love as a sister as well…who both love Miguel as a brother.


Thank you both for believing in me, praying for me, encouraging me, putting up with me when I’m a brat, and for loving me—and Miguel (who is never a brat). Leaving you will not be easy; but our bond of family—sisterhood ya-ya travelling pants whatever—will ensure that our kinship will endure.

...us with our sister Pam...

…us with our sister Pam…

Plus, there’s plenty of wine in San Francisco. Or so I’ve heard.
* I can confirm that yes, I have in fact changed clothes in the back of Debby’s car.
** Happy Birthday Debby!


I couldn’t resist this picture of the four of us–Debby and me in the center with Miguel and Zanté doing their thing. 

28. a merry little band of activists

One thought on “27. & 26. my original sister (& my first sister-in-law)

  1. Pingback: 4. fRamily circle | uhm...

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