My days are usually intense. I am an Arts teacher (that is art, music, movement, drama and cultural studies) of grades PK-5. I see 150 students a day and that saps most of my energy. My wife has a very high pressure job and our car time is a mix of venting about the work, the politic and the personal. After 23 years together our conversation is pretty fluid and we have our shorthand, a perk of long term relationships. What's said by the unsaid is the real stuff and today I could see she had something to tell me. We offered the usual greetings and as I was pulling away (she always becomes the passenger because she hates to drive) she goes,
"Oh, so by the way, now I can tell you: B came out to his mom." her voice betraying excitement.
"Really?!? That's awesome!" I said. "Why couldn't you tell me before?"
"She wasn't sure if he wanted people to know and it was accidental, so she asked me to wait to tell anyone."
That made sense to me. Apparently it had happened very suddenly in context of some family conversation and there hasn't been much time after the fact to really talk about it. He is 21 years old and been out of the house for a while. Born and raised in Austin with a sister 2 years younger, B (the son) has had a pretty open upbringing, a privileged upbringing. His parents are politically mixed. Dad is a Dem, mom is a "fiscally" conservative Republican. Socially, they are liberal.
"So," I asked, "how did she react?"
My wife hesitated for a second. "She was surprised. She's totally fine with it but it was a surprise. Apparently she asked him how long he had known, if his girlfriends had been a cover and he was not having that."
"NO! Oh, god, really?" I asked. "The fuck is she asking him that? I mean, I get that, but really, tell her to leave that alone."
"Yeah, he told her that was a bullshit question."
"It is a bullshit question" I said. "She needs to leave that alone. It's natural, but later. Just…let him bring it up."
She was quiet for a minute.
"She doesn't know what to say. She wants him to know that they don't care, that they aren't unhappy or judging him or seeing him differently, but she doesn't know what to tell him. They feel so guilty. They wish they had known long ago so they could have helped him as a teenager dealing with his emerging sexuality. Because in retrospect, they now see it has been a long time coming."
"You know," I said, looking over at the love of my life, who accepts me and my gay family for who we are; the woman who comes from a very conservative and traditional black southern culture and is in some ways more liberal than my white left wing Minute Man upbringing,
"therein lies her answer."
"How's that?" she asked, honestly perplexed.
"He will come to them with the answers to all of their self serving questions, the ones that satisfy their curiosity, in his own time..IF he chooses." I said. "All he needs to hear from them right now is we love you, we support you, and we wish we had known sooner so we could have been there for you as a younger person. Not laying that on him, but because we WOULD HAVE been there for you if we had known. If they tell him that, and if they really mean it, it's probably the best thing he could hear right now."
Mrs. b was silent for another minute. "I'm really glad you said that. She was going to ask some woman at work what she thought."
"Let me guess: she's a lesbian?" I asked sardonically. "And how long has she known this person?"
"She said she got drunk with her on business once." It was an answer fully in keeping with our socially liberal but small-town Austin barely Republican friend.
"Yeah," I said looking sideways through my sunglasses. "why don't you tell her to call me if she needs some direction there."
Through the ever increasing Austin rush hour surface traffic we headed out of downtown and toward the freeway, precious few hours left to unwind before we do it again for yet another day and yet another week. I could see the downtown skyline in the rearview, the Capital Dome high in the distance as a reminder that in our beloved Texas there are more real people and more good people than current reputation would have you believe.
With the last view of the Capital almost lost, Mrs. b rolled down the passenger window and stuck out her arm.
"That was one for our team, but here's one for you Rick Perry" she said, her middle finger extended high and emphatically into the air, "and here's one more for The Gipper, wherever you are!"
We took the honking as an affirmation of agreement.
Thanks for reading. Hope this does your heart as well as it did mine today. Have a great week everyone.