KarMel Scholarship 2008


RunnerUp of the “Written” Category

“Dear Sisters”

By Amanda Helton - MI



Desciption of Submission: “An e-mail I wrote to my sisters earlier this year thanking them for all the support and for everything that they have done to make me who I am today.  Without them I wouldn’t have survived our mother’s initial rejection of my bisexuality nor had the strenght to come out to my school and everyone else.  They found this scholarship for me and told me I was to apply at least once with this letter or they’d do it for me.  So here it is.” - Amanda


Biography: Amanda will be a sophomore attending Saginaw valley State University.  She will be majoring in Ciminal justice and Sociology.  In her spare time, she likes to volunteer with different Outreach programs and the soup kitchen.


Why Karen and Melody Liked It:  We loved how it showed the special bond and love between sisters.  It demonstrates how family members should support a gay member of their family.




Dear Sisters (Lysh & Ash-bash),


I wanted to let you know that I couldn’t have made it to college without you in my life.

If it wasn’t for you both I might have been another suicide statistic or someone who is closeted away afraid of her own feelings.


Since the summer between 9th and 10th grade when I told mom I was bisexual and you two had already seen me kiss a girl and not quite understood what was going on.  Yet you did not turn against me or think any less of me – you accepted me completely.


I remember the day November 24, 2004 mom just erupted and told me I couldn’t know what I wanted as I was only 16 and I hadn’t had sex yet so I couldn’t know if I liked females instead of males.  By this time, it had become something that was ignored in the house that mom never mentioned but something had set her off that day.  I had given up explaining to mother that I was attracted to males and females.   The concept of bisexuality seemed foreign to her.


I remember leaving the house and slamming the door and just sitting outside trying to cool off.   You don’t know this but I heard you two that day.  I was surprised you two took a stand against her.  Mom’s the dominating force in our house.  She isn’t hateful or abusive or neglectful just this when it came to me seemed to blind her and make her into something that she wasn’t – she truly feared for my soul.


Lysh, I heard you first, your voice loud and angry on my behalf, you telling mom (at 13 years old!) that if she doesn’t get her act together she’d lose me forever.


Ash-bash, you were next, sounding older then your 12 years and so calm asking mom if she wanted me to be another statistic, another dead, gay teen?


I was sitting outside in the snow and I listening to you two spout off even more information then I knew by heart.  It amazed me that you both had been researching ways to support me and to help convince mom that I wasn’t going to hell or wasn’t brainwashed.


I remember sitting there crying and then laughing Lysh, as you told mom there was a hotline that she could call and that you’d called and talked to someone one night after one of our big arguments. 


I sat out there for a long time until you, Ash-bash, my baby sister, came out and told me to come in and you had made hot coco for me and I remember you both slept in my room that night all of us camped out on the floor cause the twin bed couldn’t fit us all.  I never felt so loved and supported as I did in those moments with you.  I remember going to sleep thinking you both were made of stronger stuff then I was.


Months passed.  Mom and I didn’t fight anymore – at least about my sexuality. I thought she had just decided to be in denial or ignore it completely.  And if it wasn’t because I was a nosy older sister I would have never knew that you two were as one of you described it “battling” her when I wasn’t there on the weekends.


So, I’ll take the time now to apologize for reading your shared journal.  I’m sorry, forgive me?  I love you both so much for doing everything.


I don’t know where you two get your “In Your Face Bravery” from but can I have some? 


It makes my heart soar knowing all the trouble you went through without me even knowing to help me.  You supplied her with pamphlets and books and hotline numbers that she hadn’t accept from me but you were forcing her to read guides to parents who have GLBT children and talk to people about it.


I was ignorant to what was going on in the house because I never wanted to be home.  I’m sorry for that but I’m so thankful too.


Until I read your journal I didn’t see that you did those things by going on hunger strikes to get her to call a support group/hotline and you didn’t do your chores and took the groundings until she read those books.   You did this all because you loved me and knew that I needed the acceptance and approval of our mom who had been through so much and survived.  Mom had always been my hero.  Having her reject and deny this part of me had hurt a lot.


I’ll admit here because I’m being completely honest with you both I had given up.  I didn’t really talk to you about my feelings because I thought you’re younger and I’m supposed to look after you and take care of you not the other way around.  I didn’t want you getting in trouble with mom and yet you were doing it even when I wasn’t sharing that side of me with you!  Up until reading your guys journal I had even started to feel a little bit like maybe I was wrong and she was right.  That it was unnatural and I shouldn’t like females.  Yet, it was all gone when I read your words and could feel your love and support and what you were willing to do to get through to mom.


Despite knowing what you both had been up to it was a surprise in July of 2006 right before my senior year in high school when I was watching some tattoo show and admiring one of the men’s physique, mom came in.  She looked from the T.V. to me and said, “Please don’t bring home any males covered in tattoos.”  She paused and seemed to struggle with herself before adding.  “No females covered in tattoos either.”  She then smiled, SMILED, at ME when saying something that was related to me liking woman!


I remember just sitting there and feeling shocked and happy and wanting to cry.  I never thought she’d acknowledge my sexuality ever again.  You two were high-fiving each other and Ash-bash one day I want to video tape that little jig you did.  Do you remember how hard I hugged you two then?  It was because I knew it was everything that you two did that led mom to that small, first moment of verbal acceptance.  Thank you.


Somewhere around this time I started coming into my own as a person.  You two were there my last year to listen to me complain about guys or girls and rant about my feelings and people’s cruelty.  It was you two who gave me the strength to tell all my friends and classmates at the beginning of my senior year.  I had so much fun being myself and not walking on eggshells afraid I’d do something that would get me ostracized.


Here is where I tell you I’m sorry again.  Sorry for being oblivious to anyone else’s life but my own and for reading your shared journal again.


It was the night before I was off to college and the land of the dorms.  You two were out with friends and I was curious to see if you were still writing in it together.   You both were.  I cried when I read it.  You both did so much for me and I didn’t know and I know from reading it you didn’t want me to know.  You wanted me to have my happiness before setting out into the “real world”.  Yet how can I ever thank you enough or explain how much I love you both besides letting you know that I know everything that you’ve been through now?


You both lost friends and were teased because I openly liked females.  Some tossed you aside others apparently said degrading things and you “set them right” before tossing them aside when they continued with their, in Ash’s words, “ignorant, sheep mind sets”.


The words from one of your nightly passages stick out in my mind.  I copied it and still have it with me in a folder.  It was the one that said.  Ash-bash, why can’t they understand?  She’s our sister. Our blood.  She loves us and we love her.  All other choices would only end with her hurt and without family.  Family is supposed to be always whether you’re near or far.  Lysh, they’re insecure or yet to think on their own from their parents though pattern.  We can just keep doing what we’ve always been doing.  Educating.  And you are right.  There was never a choice. Family is always and forever.  Love is infinite.  I don’t regret it.  Do you?  No, no regrets remember?  Love is infinite and love means support and understanding.


When did you two get so wise?  You really grew up when I wasn’t paying attention.  You’re the type of people that the world needs more of.


You two taught me what true acceptance and perseverance is and how to stand strong and that Family is a word that truly means something.   You two taught me how to support people and how to educate people.


My senior year of high school would never have been the same without you both.  I’m glad I was able to share it with you.  I’m sorry for the times I embarrassed you two on purpose in the halls just because I could.  The only thing I can say is I was a senior and you two were a sophmore and a freshman – it had to be done. : )


Without you both I would never have strengthened my friendships or be the person I am today.  Lysh, Ash-bash you’ve both have been my backbone, my strength until I learned how to hold my own.  You both amaze me with your strong personalities and spirit.  I know you two can handle anything that comes your way and I strive every day to develop my spirit to be as compassionate and empathetic and steady as you two.  Lysh, Ash-bash, I’m proud to call you both my little sisters.


With love always and forever,



P.S.  Did I mention I’m sorry I’ve read your journal?  Don’t be mad.  It’s not like you two never read mine! 



Do you like this letter?  Then feel free to send an email message to Amanda at: arhelton@svsu.edu