Archive for the ‘parents’ tag
So, here’s the thing: I’m terrible at coming out. Seriously. I think that everyone who has ever come out can agree that it isn’t a one time thing. It’s something that you do over and over and over again with varying levels of fear and trepidation or excitement or whatever. I won’t claim to know what everyone’s emotions are about the subject; I’m barely okay with admitting to my own.
Anyway, I’ve been out since my first year of college. Not that ever I actually came out. Like I said, I’m really bad at coming out. It isn’t that I stumble over my words or have a panic attack or anything like that. I just… don’t bother to say anything, pretty much ever. It’s never really seemed like it was anyone else’s business. ‘Coming out’ in college meant hanging out with the other lesbians and then just letting people assume. At a small women’s college it was a pretty effective strategy. Everyone knew who I was and everyone knew who I spent time with, and if I happened to get defined by association, well, that was perfectly okay with me. The less I had to talk to people about myself, the happier I was. I’m not good at sharing and as a strategy, it worked out pretty well.
And then I went home for that first summer and I was surrounded by people who didn’t know, who didn’t have that shared context, and who I couldn’t rely on just leaving me alone. These people, they were my parents. And I would have been perfectly happy if I had never had to tell them, because my parents and I, we don’t really talk about things. They told me that my mother had breast cancer the day before she was admitted to the hospital. I got maybe 5 days notice before my father had bypass surgery, though that’s probably being generous. These are just extreme examples, but they illustrate a pattern. We don’t talk about things. So clearly I was due far more than nine months of keeping my secret. Which wasn’t really a secret. It was just something that I didn’t talk about. Karma, or whatever, owed me way more than 9 months.
I spoke to my mother on the phone two nights ago.
She asked, “So, haven’t heard from you in a while. What’s up?”
I answered, as I do to everyone these days, “Oh, just busy.”
“Busy?” She perked up. “Busy doing what?”
Busy blogging about gay stuff and moving my Big Gay Blog onto a server.
“Oh, you know. Stuff.” I’m 13 again.
The truth is, I can’t face more of the tears, or more religious literature turning up in the post. I can’t face the disappointed, “Oh…” and my name said in a way that implies I’ve just been caught shooting up heroin or robbing a bank.
So I’m still closeted. She knows I’m gay. She knows my wife, and even sends her presents at Christmas and her birthday.
We have a strange arrangement, I guess, where my wife is treated as a member of the family, but certainly not my spouse. It allows us all to get on with life despite my obvious transgression from the path I was brought up to follow.
But I’m still not really out, am I?
I told her once that I went to Pride. She just about lost her mind.
I guess being gay is tolerable as long as you’re not happy about it.
What things would you take if you thought you may never see your family again?
In the end, I took all my photographs. I left my coin collection because it was too heavy. I took old diaries.
The letter I wrote was in an envelope marked “Mom & Dad”.
I had cried rivers writing it, and every time I saw it, my eyes watered precariously.
Zipping up my bags, I took one last look around my childhood bedroom and wondered how long it would be before I saw it again. Would I ever see it again? I blinked back tears and breathed deeply.
I got into the car with my mother who would discover the letter hours later, on the bed I purposefully left unmade so it would attract her immediate attention. We drove four hours to the airport.
I boarded the plane only after I sent an apologetic email to my brother who didn’t know yet either.
Several whiskies later, I slept while the plane soared over the Atlantic. No more lies.
I was free and it hurt like hell.
I had wondered how to tell my parents that I was gay. I had conversations with myself in my mind about how I was going to do it, what I would say, where I would tell them. I had gone over so many scenarios that I had driven myself mad! I wrote my concerns over and over in a diary that I hid in my bedroom. What would they say, how would they feel, would they accept me for who I am?
There was an argument going on in the sitting room. I was in my bedroom, staying well out-of-the-way as it was between my mother and my brother. They have a very close relationship and i don’t recall them ever having such a serious disagreement!
My brother was very heated over something and eventually stormed out of the sitting room. He came up to my room, sat on the bed and told me what was happening.
His friend Mark wanted him to go to The George, a gay bar in the city. My brother had no problem with that and he had mentioned it to our Mam. Well she freaked out!
There was no way he was going to a gay bar, why would he want to go there, there will be dirty old men crawling all over him, it wouldn’t be a good environment to be in, etc, etc. He really wanted to be supportive to his friend and even though he was 18, an adult and legally allowed to drink, he wanted Mam to understand why he was doing this. He asked me to speak to Mam and try to explain to her.
I headed down to the sitting room, Mam was sitting watching TV. I asked her why she had a problem with Bob going to the George. She told me that she didn’t want gay old men leaching all over him. I tried to explain that it wasn’t like that, that it was just like any other pub except with a gay twist, that they weren’t going to see him as fresh meat! So we started arguing about it. Then the unexpected happened.
“Why do you care? You’re not gay, are you?”
I could tell by her face that as soon as she said those words, she knew what the answer was.
I answered her with silence, just looking at her.
Damn it, it wasn’t meant to happen this way, in the middle of an argument over my brother! I sat there looking at my mother with tears streaming down her face, not knowing what to say. Everything that I had planned in my head had just been thrown out of the window in a split second.
I got up, went outside for a cigarette and left my mother in tears in the sitting room wondering what in the hell had just happened.