The text messages through the years captured the evolving relationship between Rain Dove and their family.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 23, 2021. It has since been updated.
As social beings, acceptance is the cornerstone to leading a happy life. As any member of the LGBTQIA+ community will tell you, being loved and accepted for they are is so important to one's mental health. Queer, trans, and nonbinary model Rain Dove Dubilewski shared messages from their family members to highlight how their reaction to them embracing their identity changed over the years. From rejecting their identity to acknowledging it, to finally accepting them. Dubilewski, who hails from Brooklyn, said they didn't share the message so people could judge their family, which was also why they didn't share it earlier. Dubilewski said they wanted to share the message to highlight the journey of acceptance from their family. The message shared spans from 2008 to 2019 and it perfectly captures acceptance over time.
Sharing the screenshots of the messages, they wrote, "I don't often share about my family, partially to protect them from a world they didn't sign up to be judged by. Partially because our journey together hasn't always been accepting, kind, or warm. People went through processes. People said things they couldn't take back. People abandoned each other on all sides of the aisle. I ran away. They shoved me out. Whenever things were difficult physically, financially, or emotionally I learned to turn inward instead of reaching out to them," wrote Dubilewski on Instagram.
They touched upon the people the family missed out on meeting because of the family's fractious relationship with them at the time. "There were many true loves they never got to meet. However, over time something incredible occurred. Change. With consistent, persistent love many people mended back to bonds which were made stronger," they added. Dubilewski said they didn't ever "compromise my safety or mental health to appease them" and they just kept in touch once in a while. "I just kept being myself and texted/called just once a year. After a decade, the doors I walked out which I thought I'd never be allowed back through- they unlocked again," they added.
Dubilewski knows there are still family members who haven't accepted them but there are many important loved ones who have, and invite them home for the holidays. "Time may not always change everything, but often love will. Respect Your boundaries but be love. It will win." They also hoped that the messages would give hope to those whose relationships with their family might not be in the best place now.
Dubilewski spoke to BoredPanda and revealed that they had learned to be themselves without needing approval from their family. While the journey was harder back then, they are now independent and surrounded by an ecosystem that embraces them for who they are. “At this point in my life, the beautiful thing is that I’m far more autonomous than I was before. I don’t ‘need’ the acceptance of my blood family to survive. Or thrive,” said Rain Dove. Focussing their energy on living for love as opposed to approval changed their life for the better. "I’ve laughed a lot, had great romances, and found joy when they said it wasn’t possible — I’ve proven that their displeasure was nothing more than that. THEIR displeasure, but not my own.”
Dubilewski holds close to their family's transformation because it didn't happen from “This in a way has made the acceptance of my relative something that I treasure far more. Because it is a gift that wasn’t forced or fought over. It’s given not as an ultimatum but as a genuine gesture. In fact, this year was the first year ever we exchanged gifts over the holidays — they got new pillows and I got a nice bottle of bourbon.” Dubilewski also thanked and paid tribute to their grandmother, who was the first member of their family to accept them. "My grandma was the first person to accept me when I came out. While she’s catholic, she’s never once put me down, called me an abomination or, said I was going to hell. I love her very much and I can’t wait to hug her again- being apart has been really difficult," they said.