Here’s a Problem Divorced Straight People Don’t Have

Monday, Seth came in to the dining room where we were all sitting around after school, and announced that bats are the mammals who have the highest incidence of homosexual behavior (it turned out he’d been reading The Book Of Useless Information in the bathroom). I told him about penguins and that book about the two boy penguins who raise an egg. “Banned, I suppose?” he said in a worldly-wise tone.”  Then we talked about other birds and mammals who also exhibit homosexual behavior. “So, it’s natural – it’s in nature?” he said, completely stunned. I suppose he thought that Tex and I and Tracy (my ex*) and her partner had made up homosexuality explicitly to torture him.

That day, we had a family meeting about going to a production of a local youth theater troupe, True Colors, who put on plays about it’s ok to be Takei and every other form of how you express your love. This in celebration of a grant I wrote for the middle school GSA having been “unanimously and enthusiastically” granted in full by the town Education Foundation. Owen had been at the GSA that very day, and had had a blast. When I told them about the grant, Seth said, “Mom, you’re changing the world!” Later, Seth and Tex got to talking and Seth finalized the difficult decision to go with us last night to the play, sacrificing a baseball game. Which is NO SMALL SACRIFICE. We went out to eat first, and at the restaurant he asked me if I thought the play was going to be “super gay”. I told him that was the point.

So here’s the problem divorced straight people don’t have: the different ways of being gay. Tex and I are out all of the time, and we are proudly out, because not to be is too incredibly painful. We aren’t ashamed of being queer, we talk about being queer, we have queer things in the house, we are just darn queer queer queer all of the time. Tracy, on the other hand, while she is out, has great quantities of guilt and shame about being a lesbian, and she is completely unable to hide this fact from her children. And Seth picks right up on it. So when he’s here, he’s forced to go along for the ride – these are who his parent and step-parent are, they are queer, they are proud, and much of their lives revolve around queerness. Just like any other child, he has to live in the world of his parents; that is the way of things. But at Tracy’s, she’s always cutting him slack, “Oh, he just gets tired of all the gay gay gay, and he just wants to live a normal life.” Woah, mixed messages, right? Poor guy. Seriously, Owen just skips along, living on the love and not sweating the small stuff. Seth? Oof.

This morning Tex and I were talking about it, and she said we’ve just got to keep verbalizing it for Seth—for both boys. There are different ways of being gay. There are different kinds of gay people, just like there are different kinds of straight people. This of course, is good advice. But I’ve been wondering if I’m listening to Seth enough. The other thing Tex said this morning, resignedly, was, “Well, I guess Seth is really straight. I support and love him, and I guess I’ve known it all along, but it’s really coming into focus now.” She worries he’ll turn into a born again Christian or something to punish us for not being straight – he did ask us last night, before the play, why we’re gay. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if he did something like that – for a while. He’s too nuanced and has too good a sense of humor to do it forever, though. That is my mother’s prayer. And he’s too caring of a person. His whole life he’s seen every member of his family work for the common good in their own quirky ways: his grandparents are teachers, I’m a teacher and agitator, Tex is an agitator, Tracy is a social worker, her partner is a doctor, and etc. We may be gay, but we want the world to be a better place for everybody. And I have to hope that even with Tracy’s anxiety and fear, that is the strongest message he’ll take away from his decidedly abnormal and completely normal upbringing.

*her pseudonym changes from post to post

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

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