So. Time to get to work. I've been putting off writing this column for some time. I'll start it with some irrelevant lyrics:
"Nur zur Erinnerung: Bittermandel, Marzipan, Pelikanol."
-Einsturzende Neubauten, Pelikanol
Translation: "Just a reminder: Bitter Almonds, Marzipan, Pelikanol (school glue)". That having been said, some pretty important things have happened since I last wrote in. I came out to my mom! I can't remember the date off the top of my head... Ah, it was the 27th of July. (Magazine lead-time can be a bitch and a half) I was able to look it up because I was in the process of replying to an e-mail concerning last month's column, puzzling out my response when it happened. (Though the e-mail or the Oasis column are not what sparked my coming out.) I was sitting in my room with the TV turned to E! because it had some show on about gay hollywood and the strides and such that have been made in realistically portraying homosexuals as more than swishy hair-dressers, blood-drooling convicts-cum-androphiles, pedophiles, perverts, wacky neighbors, female impersonators, etc... basically touting Will & Grace and Ellen and other shows. I can't remember if they included the Kids in the Hall or not-they should've... Scott Thompson was out (and Out!) doing queer humor more than a half-decade before Ellen. Will and Grace is funny at times, but Will's flamey little compadre is, I think, a demeaning pacifier thrown to those who think homosexuality and limp-wristedness are somehow directly related.
All of this is besides the point. Point is, I was all "RANEBO PRYdE!!!" at the moment that this occurred, knee-deep in queer media. I was getting more and more casual (intentionally) about keeping a lid on my perusal of gay-related media outlets. Sophomore year, I surfed Oasis and Oasis only, and that only in the dead of night. Same thing, essentially, Junior year. The fall of my senior year was endured under the weight of an injured and depressed father and the deteriorating sanity of a close friend. Both have largely recovered at the time of this writing, thankfully. I wasn't sure I'd see 2001 with them both still here. Well, I'm still not sure. Aliens could come and purge all us bipedal inferiors from the Earth, or a giant worm could rise up from the depths of the Rio Grande and demolish the town, but those are relatively remote possibilities.
My talent for going off on tangents never ceases to amaze.
Anyway, little gay hollywood tv special is on the tv, the door to my room is hanging open, and my mom comes in to chat about something or other. She pauses, looks at the TV, and asks some slightly annoyed rhetorical question about why "those types of people" have to make such a big deal about being gay. I do a little arguing... well, not arguing. That makes it sound more emotional than it was... I defend the program a little bit, and she finally asks, "Well, why do you care?"
Ask a silly question...
So we spent the next couple of hours... or so it seemed, I don't know how much time passed... talking about various issues relating to my being gay. It wasn't like with Marble or Bee... (Latex found out from Marble, and knows perfectly well what it's like to be a guy attracted to guys)
Q & A
Q: How do you know?
A: Because I'm attracted to other guys!
Q: Ah. How long have you known?
A: Since about puberty.
Q: Why didn't you say something earlier?
A: Well, I was nervous... some kids have been thrown out of their homes for saying what I just did.
Q: Did you think we would throw you out?
A: Well, no, not really but it did happen to a guy I know (a bit of an exaggeration: I didn't really know him too well, Marble had been friends with him. He really was kicked out, and moved to San Antonio with his boyfriend. He wound up dead a couple years later... I don't know what exactly happened to him)
Q: And women don't do anything for you? (repeated at various intervals)
A: Not really...
Q: That doesn't do anything for you?" (looking at some busty chick on TV dancing in a bathing suit)
Q: You don't like breasts?
A: Well, they're fine for symmetry and all...
Q: Who <b>are</b> you attracted to?
A: Well... uh... (I'm nervously going blank... I didn't even know the names of very many of the guys I was attracted to in high school, and I knew that she'd never seen any of them in person)
Q: Well, if you can't name anybody, how do you know?
A: (Internally: "uh oh. think of someone quick.") ::seeing the copy of A Fish Called Wanda on the TV set:: Kevin Kline! um, er, I don't know... (internally: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAA") Scott Bakula, the guy from Quantum Leap...
That answer was complicated by trying to think of people that she'd recognize (which excluded LL Cool J, Joe, Eric Heatherly, Fred Durst, the guy from Creed, the guy from Godsmack, a couple of guys from Rammstein, etc...) and wouldn't seem too strange, and wouldn't seem like "obvious" choices that anybody could produce. (e.g. Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin)
There were more questions, of course, but I can't remember all of them. Those last few were particularly excruciating. I can talk about guys 'till I'm blue in the face with... whomever you ask me to. Even frightening folk like Nancy Reagan, Charles Manson, Richard Simmons, Donny Osmond. (If I ever saw Donny Osmond on the street I'd run away crying. I'd be afraid he'd hug me and start singing something from the Technicolor Dreamcoat.) But I'd rather slam my vulnerables in a car door than get down to the nitty gritty of human sexuality with my own Mommie Dearest. I just don't like going there with her.
She was visibly disturbed during this whole process. So was I. We tried to keep a lid on it and keep talking like I wasn't incredibly nervous and she wasn't shocked, disgusted, saddened or whatever she was. We weren't able to get down to a convincing likeness of calmness, but we never exploded either.
She said it didn't bother her, but her expression said something different. I don't mind that too much; I'd rather her have her rational mind fine with it and her emotions disturbed than her rational mind disgusted and her emotions in control enough to hide it.
She said a few little things that bugged me... most so little or off-handed that she probably didn't even know they were something offensive or disheartening or whatever... I can't remember all of them, but I was a little offended when she said that a lot of girls would be so disappointed when they found out. Backhanded compliments suck so much ass. Especially because I have a thing about my appearance and I know that's not true. And I didn't think of it at the time, but at least roughly 90% of the time, the object of those hypothetical girls' affection will be at the very least interested in her gender. The opposite is true with us. Roughly, of ten guys I'm attracted to, statistically, only one of those is interested in other guys. Cry me a fucking river over all the straight girls... they only have nine other guys out of a hypothetical ten to choose from now. It was also a little disheartening the way she'd express her wonder or whatever about a guy possibly being attracted to another guy. Another thing that got to me: After I'd convinced her that I really am gay, she'd repeat every once in a while that "It's my problem." I don't consider it a problem, any more than being attracted to anyone or anything detracts from daily life. It would be interesting if more people, gay and straight, considered their attractions to be "problems" to be dealt with. You know what we'd have? A total theocracy and/or a world-wide version of the Anti-sex League from George Orwell's 1984.
But she surprised me in some positive ways. When I made a comment about not having to worry about grandchildren from me, she said, quite matter of factly, that I could always adopt. Good for her. She's expressed her distaste for homosexuals in the past, but she's apparently not opposed to gay couples adopting. Lots of people are. I guess they think it's contagious, or something. No such luck. There are a few guys I wouldn't mind "infecting", though. She also just assumed that I'd be telling my Grandpa at some time. (The one I have left, on my maternal side.) It hadn't occurred to me to even want to tell anyone outside of my friends and immediate family... in person, anyway. I want to get a little pride patch for my backpack, wear that around. There are ways of letting the world know without hand-delivering the message. If she wants me to tell Grandpa, that's fine with me. She never asked me to keep it hidden
I also got to ask a little more about my gay uncle. (not the band) That was a little disillusioning. I'd fantasized about sitting in his apartment, with his aging arm around his aging partner talking with fond distaste of growing up gay in the 50s and 60s. He was, apparently, quite... "tortured" was the word my mother used... by his orientation. Shit. That's really sad. Little to be done about it now, though.
I also went to a gay friendly bar for the first time recently. That story will just have to wait for next month, though. If you're interested in hearing more out of me you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my online diary at http://mrplutonium.diaryland.com/ or, you can, of course, wait another month. Good luck to everyone out there. There's a good chance you'll need it at one time or another.