Trying to be heard, trying not to speak

August 19, 2011
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When I was fourteen I came to the realization that I might not be as straight as some of my friends. I wish I could say I accepted this thought as soon as it came to me; I’ve always admired people who are strong enough to stand aloof from everyone else. I would be lying if I said it.

I am not homophobic! In part I credit this to the books I read when I was young, as they were my first exposure to this type of love-I don’t want to hear it called anything else- and they were more open-minded and perspective than some accounts I have heard since. Many people around me are bi or gay. I am Roman Catholic, but I believe that the God of love wouldn’t condemn it as readily as others would. For the record, I have seen this idea in more Catholics than I haven’t. The thought that I might prefer woman was stupefying, but it didn’t scare me.

Not at first anyway. But then I remembered that my mother had not read Annie on my Mind when she was my age. If any of her friends had been anything more than straight I’m not sure they would have said anything about it. The thought of my mother was the one that had me in the throes of the quietest hysterics I could manage later that night.

The next day at school I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into my work. The knot in my stomach had loosened somewhat. I had told my friends and they had either been entirely supportive or had told me it didn’t matter much to them. I was certain-pretty sure-nervously optimistic that my dad wouldn’t care, not with a great-aunt in mind. So it was something that would be between me and mommy.

Since I didn’t do so well accepting things, I wouldn’t accept that my mom might not be okay with my hesitant sexuality. I would make her accept it instead.

The next year probably rang a little odd to her. I won’t pretend I wasn’t dropping hints. After seeing what the question “What would you do if I was gay?” did to the brakes of a car I took another route. A voracious interest in the rash of states legalizing same-sex marriage began to be dragged into conversations. I removed one of the bibles from my parents’ bedroom and replaced it with another. The new one didn’t have opinionated add-ins that could insinuate a hatred I don’t think God approves of. I let my parents know what I was doing with a same determined cheerfulness that seemed to crop up whenever I broached the subject with them. Mom must have seen the rock-hard smile and backed down rather than start a fight. I’m pretty sure she was scared of what she might hear.

Or maybe she could see just how brittle-frail I was underneath and was scared to break me.

I won’t go into the break-down of my defenses. Suffice to say it consisted of a Sunday school class on Christian morality and a few lesson in a book my teacher didn’t even believe. The book said homosexuality was a disease. I thought they were pretty sick to say so.

And so poor Mom was the only one in the car when I started having a good dose of not-so-quiet-this-time hysterias. I think she thought she was talking me through it. I know I thought I was talking her through it. A year had passed and I was still too scared to tell her. So when she did ask me, in a quiet, calm voice that sounded a little too forced to me, I told her I didn’t know in a tone harsh enough that she let it drop. That was the truth. I didn’t know. And I felt as ashamed as if I’d lied about it.

Two years have passed since then. My mother is quietly coming around to the idea. I still don’t know whether I am gay or not. However, I don’t have to be as worried about my parent’s reactions if I am. It’s a big triumph for me. My point of view was heard.

And that is why, in those states that haven’t legalized same-sex marriage yet, I feel like that point of view should be heard as well.

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