Last month, my sister came to visit a sister who’d recently had a baby (probably the last for any of my 11 siblings). My brother and his wife came too and I joined them all one day for lunch.
We were talking about everyone’s kids… my brother’s wife showing pictures of their recent family vacation. She showed me a picture of my beautiful niece posing with her equally beautiful boyfriend who’d gone with them on vacation.
Then, I asked if my nephew was seeing anyone and was surprised when she showed me a picture of Ron with his boyfriend. There were a lot of kiddies around and I was kind of speechless. I never imagined though, looking back, I should have. My gaydar was out on this one.
I had questions but the situation was not the best for that discussion. My brother and his wife are religious people like many of my other sibs. When I went home, I was sorry that I hadn’t asked my questions. Follow me below the fold for the answers and a great (I think) piece of writing.
The next day happened to be my birthday and I was glad to get a call from my brother. I think he sensed that I had questions.
First, let me say that my nephew Ron is the most wonderful boy/young man I have known. It is hard to describe the electricity that buzzes around him. He is great looking; he is very intelligent and wise beyond his 18 years and always has been. He is just a beautiful person and always, always makes you happy to be in his presence.
My bro. explained that Ron had really come out a few years ago but they had always known.
He touched on the religious aspect, telling me that he has found a different church (he and my sil were/are Catholic) He’s found a church that makes him happy to celebrate in while my sil continues a Catholic. They went to their priest years ago about Ron and I am glad to say that the priest said that the church is woefully behind modern society. He comforted them.
A few days later, my brother wrote a beautiful email thanking my (evangelical) sister for her acceptance and love of Ron. He wrote:
I don't think I ever realized how much being gay was NOT about choice.
We've lived it, been to many counselors from early on, and we know our son.
I feel sorry that people just don't get it. That was me too.
It's hard enough "coming out", but then to have people reject you, so sad.
Christianity persecuted people because they didn't believe the Earth was flat.
Ron's been called "faggot" and punched in the face. Enough of the hate and fear mongering....
He quoted some biblical passages. He also discussed conflicting translations of the Bible. Finally, he included a piece that Ron had done for his creative writing class. The piece is based on an actual trip they went on years ago. It brought my husband and I to tears.
I wanted to share it with the community.
If This, Then Happy
I am sitting at the top of Tootsie Falls, shivering my skinny white ass off.
How was I supposed to know March would be so cold when I asked moms & pops for a Cedar Rapids Birthday Pass? Spring baby?
More like my nipples are as hard as diamonds, come save me.
I am 13 today. My sister, Elise, is 11. I wish I had an older sibling so I would have someone to tell me all the things about growing up, someone whose shadow I could sneak behind in at Holy Cross Catholic School. Connor’s older brother, Alex, showed him The Talking Heads and The Who. Now Connor is cool and all that jazz.
Elise just cuts her Barbies’ hair all the time and spoils The Little Mermaid
by quoting it wrong. I know it’s a whole new world, Elise, I introduced you to
that Ariel bitch. I told mom to adopt a 16 year old boy and just let Elise sleep
in the garage but I don’t think she took me seriously.
The chalky green fabric of my bathing suit goes just past my knees.
Bathing suits above the knee are for faggots, Derek told me one time.
He also told me that faggots have “girly” voices. Recently, mine has gotten pretty “girly” so Derek doesn’t hang out with me anymore.
I tried talking to him on the Fun Sucker during recess one time about why he doesn’t come over for Kick the Can anymore but he was with some kids that live in our neighborhood and I think I embarrassed him.
The Fun Sucker is the name that we gave to the gated grass recess field.
I don’t understand why we go to the grass field for recess because all it does is suck fun; it fun sucks. It has one soccer goal and we aren’t allowed to have any soccer balls because one kid, Mike McNalley, who has more hair on his hands than I have in my pits, punted three soccer balls over the fence in a blind rage and hit a man at St. Mary’s Retirement Home across the street. So, kids just graze around in cattle packs, looking for victims or ant hills or just picking boogers.
It suckssss (fun). Mrs. Sparjello, our proctor, grazes too, reading one of her maroon-bound lady novels.
As I crouch here, water jetting it’s icy stream over my trembling, goosebump thighs,
I think all about the last couple of months; the imaginary girlfriends,
avoiding the high-ceiling locker rooms at all costs,
the therapy sessions where Mr. Finer relentlessly probes me with ink blots as scalpels.
It’s stupid that I should always be worrying, right? I’m 13 for god’s sake. 13.
I should be picking blueberries on the side of our big brick house.
I should be drinking a warm Coke while I shove as many sour, tangy Warheads
into my mouth as childly possible. I should be climbing old oaks
that resemble the International Space Station where I hang out with space chimps.
But, instead, the only words I can utter in my swollen, throbbing, worrisome mind are gay.gay.gay.
The dirty word follows me everywhere. I hear kids whisper it behind my back or, worse,
shout it at my face. I hear Mr. Finer murmur it to my guilt-stricken Catholic-Portugese shuffling mother.
It haunts me. And although I am lucky to not have all the signs of a flaming homosexual,
(did I mention I am wearing a bathing suit below the knees), I am starting to realize that my “girly” voice is something I cannot hide.
As a result, instead of speaking, I now resort to a lot more head nods, many more “Mmm-hmms”, and a bajillion more hand signals.
I am social awkwardness to a tee, the epitome.
So, at this point, people are getting antsy behind me in what has become the longest queue in Tootsie freakin Falls history. Way antsy.
I don’t know why everyone’s so keen on free falling from 80 feet up when it’s Ant-Artic on this wonky, wooden tower. My sister, Elise, convinced me to tromp up those mossy,
damp stairs for this? I know she doesn’t want to slide, I know I don’t want to slide,
I know none of these people want to slide.
It’s just something you have to do at Cedar Rapids, everyone says.
Like cattle, up the stairs, down the flume. Barf. Yack. Yammie.
People are starting to scream at me to go now and Elise is whining like the little trollop she is. Whatta trollop. I grip the warped, mustard edges of the plastic slide. I’m frightened I’ll fly forward when the slide sucks my body down it. Head first, bonk, bonk, bonkaroo.
I can see the headline: “Girl-Boy Child Taken By Tootsie Falls, Maybe Homo, Definitely Lanky”.
I scoot forward ever so gingerly, my numb, itchy ass bracing for the death fall.
I can be such a coward sometimes but, I think to myself as the water surges me forward,
I could do anything if I didn’t have “gay” meeting me around every corner.
If I wasn’t different. If I didn’t like differently, love differently. ANYTHING.
With this surge of epiphany and empowerment I propel myself forward with a gush of water and air.
I go airborne, it’s frightening, I am freezing, but for some reason I don’t have a single worry.
I don’t worry because in my cerebral labyrinth of connections, cords, and synapses
I make myself a sacred contract in that airborne instant.
If I can just fly down this spout,
if I can just be nice to my sister,
if I can just go to church every Sunday,
if I can just be daring, if I can just be honest,
if I can just be the most respectable mother fucker this side of the Mississippi,
my body will flush the gay out of my adolescent body like the toxin that it is.
I can confront every one of life’s little zingers and it can flush it out, detox me, and I can go back to being happy again,
go back to not constantly looking over my shoulder.
Happy like the time before gay and straight were a black and white division.
Happy before it mattered. Happy before lines and borders were drawn. If This, Then Happy.
I will always worry about my beautiful nephew and I will always be thankful for my family who loves and accepts him. If only others could be so lucky.