I just told my mother I'm queer.
I was in my mother's office talking to her just now about having Cesca come out here for spring break, and then the subject of my uncle Mike, the gay Catholic ex-priest, came up. He was supposed to be coming down here with his "good friend" Ray for a visit to Chicago, but his pipes flooded and he couldn't. And so we were talking about Ray and Mike and Mike trying to find a long-term monogamous partner and the gay community and how hard it is in any field and orientation of life to find a partner. So I, in all my new-found ability to speak, go "well, in the gay community, at least we all make an effort to - er, I mean. we as in one. As in, one makes an effort to. er. So one makes an effort to..." and then moved on with the conversation. But my oh-so-smooth cover-up attempts went over badly and she was looking at me like I had just grown another head. I was trying my very best not to scream and run away, because somehow it occured to me that this would not make my efforts seem any smoother. At all. So then, she says "So what do you consider your sexual orientation to be? Mike, your uncle, not your father, asked me about it before Christmas because he had seen some rainbow button on your bag or something, and..." So I go take a very deep breath, and tell her that I haven't really thought about it much, but I wear that button just to be contrary, because my father once refused to sign a petition, but the nice woman gave me a sticker, and I am often contrary, and I put the sticker on this window and here's the description of the sticker and oh boy my voice is getting squeaky. Basically, evade the hell out of answering. At which point she goes, "You don't have to answer that if you don't want to, I mean, it's none of my business, blah blah blah." Read - begs me to just smile and say something that allows her not to have to deal with the real world.
So then, right as I had almost gotten out of having to answer, my guts/foolhardy adrenaline rush kicked in, and I go, "Well, so like I said, I haven't really thought about it that much, but I just know that I'm not straight." Then her eyeballs, which had been starting to recede into her head, fell out and bounced on the carpet a few times. After having replaced them in her skull, only allowing me a momentary glimpse of the hell-fire burning behind them, she asked me in a very strangled tone what exactly I meant by not straight. "Well, non-heterosexual," I tell her. After a very pleasant couple of minutes of trying to define very self-explanatory words, I ran away.
I'm shaking. Literally, physically, shaking. I have played this scene through my head so often. How I would tell them. How they would find out. My favorite version had a lot to do with motorcycles and my having a girlfriend, at which point at least I could have said something along the lines of "We're in love and love conquers all and I'm living my own life and there's nothing you can do about it!" In every scenario, it was intentional and I was strong and self-assured and not in the least scared shitless. Sometimes they were furious, when I was at my most idealistic they were happy for our happiness and welcomed both of us into the family and stood by us against the pains of life and my father stopped being a staunchy republican and became a liberal activist and everybody went to PFLAG and we all lived happily ever after, a funny family of the twenty-first century. Hi, my name is Micheal O'Neal and my daughter is an eclectic queer. Um. Yeah, or quite possibly not. But NEVER. Never in all my scene-playing did I accidentally use the word "we" in reference to the GLBT community and hence find myself forced to admit to it, instead of declaring it proudly. This was not a coming out! This was a forced eviction! And goddamnit, I'm starting to think that I liked my one remaining corner of closet. Cause now I'm shaking and trapped on the third floor, and I don't want to be here at all. I want Cesca, Lada, and Panda-bear. I want Cesca to hold me and let me stop shaking, I want Lada to tell me that it's all going to be okay with reason and love, and I want Panda-bear to give me that look that she gives me when she knows I need her to be my beloved Panda, and then tell me in that firm, loving way that she has to calm down. In the meantime, I'm going to shake.
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