Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Consequences: Bringing Them Home to Our Loved Ones

My brother and I were talking the other day about the conservative elements in our family (basically our older sister and at times our mother and father). He was commenting on trying to sort out memories of being raised in a democratic family and suddenly finding our parents leaning republican. This is not the normal southern flip into the republican party in an attempt to stay as bass-ackwards as possible, but my parents had thought Jimmy Carter was a great president and that reagan was completely untrustworthy and the big bush was a joke at best. They have always been pretty progressive and not terribly partisan. This is something that I have always deeply admired.

My sister has a good heart and feigns disinterest in politics, but she was always going to trend conservative. But I did expect her to make demands of those who claim to be conservative.

But lately they have all tended a little bit republican. We were speculating as to why, and our best guess is a combo of only wanting to really focus on the things closer than the tip of their noses and that they believe the republicans are made uncomfortable by issues that make them uncomfortable.

Namely: abortion and gay issues. My sister has long run with a crowd which gives audience to questionable characters with simpleminded takes on these and most other issues, so her having passionate and misinformed opions on the subjects is no suprise. My parents, though, have historically had a more nuanced take on most topics and kind of stayed away from these. But then their big gay son had to go and say "Hey, I'm not asexual and devoid of human emotion like I have pretended for so long, I'm gay." All things considered, they took it pretty well. They didn't really like it, but they have never stopped supporting and loving me.

But the dark side of their support is how they interact with this subject when not talking to me about it (which they fastidiously avoid). I haven't really pushed the issue much. I wasn't trying to get them to march on washington or to start waving rainbow flags; I just wanted to be able to act like a three-dimensional person and not get further distanced from my family. I knew it would take a while for them to be able to be casual about it and have been pretty respectful of this and tried to ease them into it. I didn't come out until I was completely comfortable with myself and my sexuality and had resolved a great many issues, but that took a long time for me and I know that it was never going to be a cakewalk for my parents.

That said, I didn't think it would drive them to being more conservative. In ways it hasn't, but in so many ways it has. They like whatever politician wants to try to just make the subject go away, or more accurately, who treats it like something to be ashamed of and which people SHOULD want to go away. The republicans bring it up over and over again, but they bring it up in such a way as to suggest they are really just trying to get all this out of the light once and for all. My sister has long been on this side of things, telling of friends for whom ex-gay programs have 'worked'. Yeah, they work all right, these are the ones that go on and get married and then have sex with strangers in public restrooms. Sorry, not the life I want and I have been propositioned by too many married christian family men to take any ex-gay ministry's claims seriously. You don't make anyone less gay, just more likely to kill themselves or they just end up shoved back into the closet.

Anyway, my point is that if my parents and sister and other conservative relatives are going to think that the republicans are the party that will make my sexuality go away as an public issue, then I am going to make damn sure that if they vote for that bastard and his asshole cronies and he wins, this is a subject that they will hear about in very proximate terms for the duration of his presidency. Allowed to live my life and treated with respect, I am happy to leave the whole gay thing as a no big deal kind of fact of life, but if it is going to drive my parents to making misguided political decisions which are out of character for them because the republicans like hiding gay people, then they need more exposure to the subject and I will make sure they get it.

My brother liked the idea of submitting threats like this; after all, isn't that really all the republican party does? Why should they get to lay down the terms of the 'gay threat'? I'm the homo in my parents' life and I'll do the gay threatening. I'll make certain that those slow simple gossipy members of my family who haven't caught on to the fact of my open gaity yet are very well informed around holiday get-togethers. We will discuss my boyfriend everytime I call home. I will force the hand on their agreement to go to a p-flag meeting after I went snarling and with stream shooting from my ears to that evil love-won-out convention (don't get me started). I figured they would find their way their in their own good time, but they haven't and now they want to vote republican, so it is becoming time to press the issue.

I never really wanted to be a big gay rights freak. I think there are bigger issues than gay marriage and just generally have a problem with simplified us/them dicotomies across the board and never really cared to limit my outspokeness to one catagory. But it is beginning to shape up that this is the issue which is standing flat in the way of many of my parents more progressive tendencies and the one which I need to focus on at home.

Anyway, this is my threat: if my parents want to support republicans because they represent their best hope for supressing the visibility of gay issues (which just remind them of their own son's gayness), then I will work double time and tirelessly to make sure that they become comfortable with gay stuff through repeated exposure and prolonged discussion of the topic. I will no longer stear clear of the subject when I think it might be awkward and will no longer leave it to them to allow openings in the conversation for it. I will bring it home. People who refuse to see past the end of their nose SHOULD (and will) have things thrown in their face.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello daniel:

i totally forgot the address because i was way drunk that night but found it via ben's blog. but yeah, now i found and now i will read it.