Sometimes it’s hard to come out as an abortioneer. We know that. And sometimes it can even be hard coming out to family. I never kept my abortioneering work a secret from my immediate family, but I still haven’t told my dad about my abortion. Okay, you’re probably wondering why I am worried about it or care about telling my parent. I mean, I don’t owe it to him or anything. I was in my 20’s when it happened. It’s not part of my job description as his daughter to let him know many years later, “Hey, dad, remember the time I dated that total asshole? You know, the one you hated? Yeah. Yeah. THAT one. Oh, no! Not THAT one, the OTHER one you hated. Well, errr, - uh – yeah, I had an abortion.” Shock and awe!
The thing is: I keep few secrets from my dad. We’re close. Despite this, he hasn’t ever been super supportive of my work or of abortion. He even calls the clinic “the gut and suck.” I’ve heard equally snide comments over of the years about women who have them, the procedure, you get the point; so, when we went to a poetry slam a couple weeks ago where Lauren Zuniga performed “To the Oklahoma Lawmakers,” I was nervous. (Seriously everyone, if you don’t know who she is, you need to.) I’ve mentioned her before to you all, but if you love her like I do, you can never tire of watching her. So, for some ear, eye, and heart candy, here you go.
Though I believe art can be a platform to share ideas and even transform beliefs – if not just challenge them – I was scared about my dad hearing this poem. I shifted in my seat, scratched my neck, and worried he would make another dismissive remark about abortion (which, of course, I take a little personally). Instead, during our drive home, he told me that “To the Oklahoma Lawmakers” was his favorite poem and performance; when pressed, he said it was because “everything she said was true.” I really couldn’t believe it. In fact, I said: “Who are you and what have you done with my dad?!” For the first time in over ten years of my work as an abortioneer, my dad and I spoke honestly and openly about abortion. For the first time in over ten years, I felt he finally got it. Finally understood the humanity behind abortion. Finally got ME. And for the first time in many years, I felt like I might actually be able to share with him that I had an abortion (without being judged) – not for me, really (not in the sense that I need to share my experience) – but so that he can further understand, put a face to, abortion and let loose of stereotypes. Judgment.
All I know is I am grateful for art. For poetry. For spoken word. I will never be able to stop being grateful to Lauren Zuniga. I feel I owe her. And I hope she reads this. Art can transform you. It can transform relationships. Miraculous? Yes. Proof? Dad doesn’t call the clinic “the gut and suck” anymore. And I think sometime soon, we’ll talk abortion again.
P.S. If you want to watch more of Lauren Zuniga, check her out here on YouTube.