Monday, June 13, 2005

Lessons in Gay

This morning, my worlds collided in a very big way.

My mother met Patrick.

I couldn't say that my mother is that thrilled with the idea of Patrick staying in our house for the summer. She's--well--I don't know if she really knows what to think. She's not the type to come right out and ask a lot of questions or offer a lot of opinions.

Frankly, she knows that she annoys me sometimes, and I think she tries really hard not to meddle in our life. But what she doesn't get is that the reason she annoys me is that she assumes a lot, and never directly communicates with me.

So ever since she found out that my husband invited Patrick to spend the summer, she has been subtly trying to gather information about "this kid."

Other than the fact that I haven't mentioned blogs, I haven't held anything back from her. Why would I? It's not like I'm ashamed of my friendship with Patrick.

Yesterday she asked, "Has he ever been married?"

To which I replied, "Mom, he's gay. I told you that before."

"Oh, I didn't realize," was all she said.

My mother brought my kids down to the Cape House on Saturday to visit for a few days. But she was already in bed when Patrick came home from work Saturday night.

This morning, after the kids rudely awakened us, Patrick made us all breakfast. (And by the way, it takes real talent to cook scrambled eggs on a gas grill.) The five of us sat at the kitchen table and talked just a bit before Patrick had to head out for work.

Later, while the kids were napping (and after my own huge nap) my mother and I sat at the kitchen table and chatted ourselves.

"He reminds me of Jerry," my mom told me. Jerry, of course, is the only other gay man she knows.

"Why? Just because they're both gay?" I asked.

"No," she replied. "He's just like Jerry. You remember him, don't you? He was so nice-looking and so nice. It's just such a shame."

"What's a shame, Mom?"

"Well, that he's gay."

Here's where I heave a huge sigh.

My mother and I have talked about this before. I'm sure Jerry's husband doesn't think it is a shame.

I spent at least thirty minutes today talking with my mother about being gay. Not that I'm an expert. But, as I've pointed out to her, I've always had close gay friends.

We talked about whether being gay is a choice. We talked about my college friends and how happy they are now. We talked about Patrick's Ex.

And in doing so, I mentioned Patrick's cancer. And what did my mother ask me?

"Does he really have cancer, or is it AIDs?"

I could have blown up at her. My mother can astound me sometimes with her ignorance. But she lives in a very small world. And we're switching roles. It's certainly about time that I started teaching her.

So I remained calm and talked about HIV. I told her more about Patrick's cancer and I told her about Aaron's tumors.

I think my purpose is many-fold here. My mother has taken a huge backseat on my mental committee. And that is liberating. I've expanded my circle of love and my family of choice. And that feels wonderful. But I want my mother to know me. And to know me, she needs to know about the people I love.

I hope I've educated her just a little bit. She's my mother. If I can't educate her, I have little chance of educating anyone else.

And she spends so much time with my kids. It is absolutely essential to me that she has the right attitude about the things that I value. Because I refuse to let my kids be ignorant.

So tomorrow, I'm loading my mother and my kids in the car and we're taking a trip to Provincetown. I think I'll call it immersion therapy.

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