What minimum amount of gay
community is necessary to put your politics, principles (or lack thereof),
relationship practice, fashion choices and gender ambiguity right out on the
big mainstream table? For me, it apparently takes more than whatever amount I
generally carry with me in the pocket of my y-front underwear.
This summer I made the
deliberate choice to spend considerable money and time vacationing with my
family. A confident queer, I never dreamt it would lead me to question who I
am. Not: Should I be married? Not: Do I need a rambling, split level, 5 bedroom
house in the suburbs? Not: Am I really gay? But: How gay am I, really?
My family – all straight – accept
that I’m gay with an outward comfort which is also as if, at the dinner party
of life, they’ve been served a strange new dish they have no idea how to eat.
So they eat it, politely, the same way they’ve eaten everything else that’s
ever been on their plate.
There are no inquiries or
questions. There is no acknowledgement I’m different, that my underwear is
different, that my life choices (beyond who gets in my bed) are different. We
have conversations and plan activities just as if everyone involved is straight
except that one of us is gay.
It’s a common dilemma for most
queer fish thrown onto the family shores of life. The fact that you’re gay
effectively disappears. No gay jokes, no gay innuendo, no gay fashion
solidarity, no gay cream for my coffee. As I trudged once more in my gay
sandals down to the ungay beach from my ungay cabin beside an ungay lake, I
asked myself if I were a flaming drag queen would I have more balls to gay-ify
this resort? If it weren’t my family here but all people I didn’t know, would I
be the unquietly queer, out-and-out dyke I am pretty much anywhere else?
The problem is, it’s a solo
effort, a community of one. (Well, and my daughter who, Gucci bless her,
impatiently told her cousin to stop using the phrase “That’s so gay” for things
he didn’t like.) So what do you do? Declare one morning it’s Gay Day? The
canoes will be reserved for gay people (you). The lakeside swimming pool will
be gays only (you). The hot tub will be an exclusive gay cruising zone (you),
and the games room will be cleared for a big gay party bash at night (just
In three weeks of vacation I had
two “gay” moments, both from unlikely sources. At the Vancouver Folk Festival I
chatted up a lively, tatooed boy-dyke and in twenty minutes had a more engaged
and familiar conversation with a complete stranger than I’d had with much of my
family in two weeks. Secondly, an Anglican priest who’d been a noviciate of my
father’s came for lunch at our happy family resort and in less than five
minutes we were discussing the church’s reluctance to sanctify gay & lesbian
Other than that, I sat silently
through boring conversations about real estate values and CDs with parental
advisories (my daughter needs her own advisory sticker other parents know how
much I swear). I bit my tongue as non-monogamous liaisons were unanimously
condemned, I curtailed my glee when mistaken by an old family acquaintance to
be my sister’s elder son (which my sister assumed I would find insulting).
I haven’t been so ungay since
the time I wore that white dress with the matching shoes. It leaves me doubting
my ability to uphold a gay identity if I never encountered another gay person.
Would I just slink in the background muttering to myself about liberated sex,
open relationships, gender fluidity and fruit cocktails? Or would I do what any
sensible, self-preserving gay would do in the face of such smothering
heterosexuality? Begin recruiting.
back to Visibly A Parent
|No gay jokes, no gay innuendo, no gay fashion solidarity, no gay cream for my coffee.|