Friday, October 26, 2007

"Doesn't your family already know that you're gay??"

I'm not especially close to my parents, a relationship that was further estranged by my forced coming out ten years ago. Since moving to New York I see them once or twice a year and normally it's just a phone call every few weeks to let them know that I'm still alive. Then there's the fact that I have no relationship with my only sibling.

While these facts might shock Ms. K, who is very close to both her mother and brother, for me it is what it is. My familial relationships are complicated and I'm not sure if they will be anything else. My point is that I have no idea what my parents think about my sexuality. I don't know because we don't talk about it. They could secretly be totally fingers crossed waiting for me to announce my engagement to a man. Or they could secretly be PFLAG members. I just don't know because I'm too pussy to ask.

Right. So I did something interesting on Wednesday.

My cousin Amy, who lives in Hawaii and who I haven't seen in a few years, gave me only two hours notice that she was going to be in the city and wanted to have dinner that night. Oh, wait. I already have plans, I warned. Maybe I could combine my plans?

What I didn't tell my cousin was that I was supposed to have dinner with Ms. K. This presented me with a bit of a conundrum. Do I come out to my cousin or do I do the whole this is my friend routine?

I opted for the former strategy. Except passive aggressive.

When we all met up for dinner I introduced Ms. K as my girlfriend. Then I waited for a flicker of recognition, something to show that the news had registered.

But nothing happened and Amy chatted on as if hadn't said anything the least bit scandalous. Did she already know or was it a non issue?

I relaxed and took secret pleasure in the knowledge that Amy would be staying with my parents in a few days. Would she mention that she had dinner with me and "my girlfriend"? I imagined the news like a drop of ink slowly diffusing through a glass of water.

Ms. K took everything in stride, especially the news that she was going to have dinner with my cousin who may or may not know that I am gay, but she was bewildered by my coming out tactic.

"Doesn't your family already know that you're gay??" she later asked.

"Yes. In theory. But the genius is that I've injected the situation with fresh verve. Then maybe the issue will be forced."

In my head I likened my tactic to setting forth events into motion, two catalysts that could either explode or foster something altogether new -- I'm hoping for the later. I'll just have to wait till Christmas to see how my experiment played out. What do I have to lose?


Anonymous said...

As I frequent lurker/reader of your blog, I simply couldn't resist commenting on this post, mainly to thank you for sharing. It's bizarre, but this entire post could have been written by me almost word for word (except with my own words it would have come out far less interesting). So much of my family situation is the same--from parents I hardly see & talk to, to my one sibling that I have no real relationship with, to the passive aggressive way in which all of us (including me) have decided to deal with the whole gay issue, to coming out to a cousin very casually and then hoping that she would raise the issue with my parents.

It's positively uncanny. Maybe it just means there's more of us in this familial limbo than we know. Anyway, it was nice to read about the experiences of someone who is in a similar situation. My friends are sympathetic, but really can't understand. Thanks again for sharing.

nycrouge said...

You're very welcome.