Monday, September 19, 2011

I don't need it - but someone else might

My mother doesn't want to know that I'm gay. What she wants is confirmation that I'm NOT. On a few occasions in my life, conversation with my mother ventured into the area of my sexuality. She has made comments ("I hope you're not tryin' to get into that faggot shit") as opposed to asking outright ("Are you gay?")and has always shut down when the conversation seemed to be steering into faggotville.

So, I just chalked it up to her inability to handle it if she learned that I was gay. She simply doesn't want me to be, she wants proof that I'm not. That's telling in and of itself, right? She's not wanting proof that I'm straight ... she wants proof that I'm not gay. But, whatever ... the truth is that I'm grown, I live on my own, I have kids that I take care of and I don't really need her approval.

or so I thought.

Today I got a card from the executive assistant at work - it was a hallmark card for the director here who just got married over the weekend. However, last month a gay coworker announced that he and his partner of 20 years were going to go through a civil ceremony now that Illinois recognized gay marriage. There was no card. Nothing.

So I asked the executive assistant if I had missed the card for the other guy - I hadn't signed it. She was shocked. Confused. And then remorseful. (It was interesting to see those emotions register on her face and in her body language one after another ...) She went downstairs and spent 30 minutes trying to pick out a card for him from Walgreens. She chose an appropriate light green, gender-neutral card and I was proud of her.

However, it resonated with me - that marriage was invisible to her. It simply didn't occur to her to get a card because she just didn't see it. And that bothered me. These two men have been together for 20 years! The odds that their marriage will last til death do them part are way higher than the straight couple's 50% odds ... yet still, it was less meaningful.

Seriously - that bothers me.

I think about how many people in my own family have ever come out of the closet. Zero. That's right. Zero. In the machismo Latin world I come from ... no one dares do it.

And I'm realizing that I'm that dude who needs to do it. First, I'm far enough removed from the intricate familial web that the gossip and backlash won't actually impact me personally. And that rumor will make it through to EVERYONE ... and some of those people need to know that someone did it before them. I won't name them - but I know who they are.

So - you know, while I don't really feel the need to do it ... I feel the need to do it.

It'll happen before year end ...