Monday, March 2, 2009

Clutch Those Pearls, Irish Lady!

Parents can be funny about "the gay." My mom and dad, for example, were fine with my coming out -- their only complaint was that I waited too long to tell them. (My parents, it should be noted, are insane: I came out to them when I was in high school. What was I supposed to do, celebrate my fifth-grade graduation by flinging the closet door open? It's not like I had a clue what was going on back then. When I turned on VH1 hoping to catch George Michael's "Freedom! '90" video, I thought it was because I liked the music.)

But even though they've adopted this "Give me a G, give me an A, give me a Y!" rah-rah attitude, voting for pro-gay politicians and seeing "Brokeback Mountain" in theaters (which was good because it meant my dad had to watch guys make out, but bad because he doesn't seem to realize now that not all gay people are tortured ranch hands from Wyoming), they still use a few phrases that make me cringe. The most popular one is "We just want you to be happy."

Shouldn't that go without saying, that your parents want you to be happy? How often do parents, even really poor excuses for parents, tell their children, "We want you to be unhappy. Seriously, Tim, we've never liked you. We're not even indifferent to your happiness. We hate you so much that every Wednesday and Saturday, right after we pray to win the Powerball jackpot, we ask God and Jesus and your dear departed grandpa up in heaven to make sure your life is full of heartache and misery."

And what about this one: "It's just that it's such a hard life." What the hell are the people who say that talking about? What is so hard about being a gay adult in the United States in the year 2009? Fine, so the world is full of homophobes. The world is also full of racists and sexists and anti-Semites, yet not once has anyone ever sat me down and said, "You know that I love you and accept you, and that I've never had a problem with you being a girl. It's just that I worry about you. It's such a hard life, having to sit when you pee and not being guaranteed the right to vote until 1920."

When my dad hauls out the old "such a hard life" chestnut, I have to take a deep breath to keep from snapping, "Having cancer is hard. Learning to use a prosthetic leg is hard. Living in dire poverty is hard. Being transfixed by Eva Mendes's ass? Not hard. I'm not complaining."

But there's something else I won't complain about from now on: My dad. Because over the weekend I read something in The Irish Independent that put all his hand-wringing in perspective. Behold, the parents who are "devastated because our only son says he's homosexual." The mother's hysterical letter to an advice columnist includes passages like:
I have prayed until I am sick. My husband is on medication for high blood pressure, is severely stressed all the time, and cannot sleep. He says "never a day goes by that I don't cry". What a waste.

I am distressed, crying bitterly, and full of guilty questions like where did we go wrong. What did we do, or fail to do? I cannot close my eyes at night without crying out loud and wondering and worrying about him. How can we relieve this situation?

We have not discussed the issue with friends, although some close relations are aware of it. We feel we have to sell our small business and move away from here. I don't think I can bear this any longer. Yes, we think of the anguish our son must have gone through/must still be going through, his loneliness and isolation. Yet he is happy to visit gay clubs and meet with other men.

What are the odds that all the "anguish" her son is going through has more to do with having nutcase parents than liking gay porn? (She mentions porn in the full letter.) And what does she think selling her business and moving is going to accomplish? She's still going to know her son's a big 'mo regardless of where she lives. And her husband! His blood pressure's through the roof, he can't stop crying... He sounds a little queeny himself, the way he's thriving on all the drama. If I were the hugging type, I'd hug both of my parents today. And once the shock subsided and they asked what it was for, I'd say, "For not being fuckheads." Warms the cockles of your heart, doesn't it?

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