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Matt Barton

December 1996

Can I Do It?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Mine went very well. My family and I went to Connersville, Indiana, and spent the day with my mother's family. I ate a ton of food and found myself with an upset stomach the next day.

I asked my grandmother how big the family was. It is rather large, after all. There are two grandparents, which are still alive. From them, we have eight children. From those eight we get eighteen grandchildren. According to my grandmother, after that, she quit counting. The number of great-grandchildren is still an unknown.

I had a great time this year. I enjoyed myself overall. I got to know some of the new members of the family and ate bits and pieces of food all day.

There is one thing I wish could be different. This year was the first Thanksgiving my boyfriend Rob and I spent together. We didn't spend it together physically, but it was the first Thanksgiving since we got together. We decided that it would be best if I went with my family and he went with his. I'm okay with being a part from him for a few days. It didn't kill us after all, but I would have enjoyed the idea of sharing the love of my life with my extended family.

I'm out to my parents and sisters. Sometimes I think my mom likes Rob more than she likes me. That's another story, however. Anyway, they're all very supportive. I am very comfortable talking about gay and lesbian issues around them, and they are very responsive and interesting to talk to.

The problem is that I have no idea how my extended family would react to my sexual orientation. Some may have religious problems with it. Some may not even care. And some may be very supportive. I think overall it would be a combination of the three.

Whenever I think about outing myself to everyone, I always exclude my grandparents. Firstly, grandpa is a 95 year old Catholic. And my grandma is 85 years old, but with old-time beliefs. She once told me that if I married a black woman that she would disown me. She's obviously a racist. If she can't handle the idea of me marrying a black woman, then I doubt she'll have a much different reaction to me marrying a man.

Aside from those two, my plan would be to not hide it. I guess the time will eventually come when everyone knows or has an idea. It doesn't scare me. I'm not interested in seeking advice on how to come out. I'm just curious about what others have done in large families. I'd like to know the dynamics of it. In other words, did most find out through word of mouth from someone, or from the homosexual family member himself?

Please feel free to write me about anything you feel pertinent to my situation. It would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if you can come up with a better word than lover or partner, then let me know.

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