Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Will You Still be Proud of Me?

Back in October I printed out two pictures for my cubical.  A picture of my parents from when they were in Europe and a picture of me and Jimmy during Chinatown Summernights.

I noticed that most people had pictures of people they loved to personalize their space; siblings, offspring, significant others.  My space was personalized by work thank you cards, work trinkets from coworkers who came back from vacation and tupperware for catered lunch leftovers.

I wondered to myself why I didn't do this sooner.  I'm completely gay at work; I've gone gay clubbing with my manager.  Why don't I put up photographs to remind myself who makes me happy which includes my boyfriend of 3 years.  And it helps with storytelling - I can simply point to these pictures when I describe a weekend with Jimmy or a phone call with my mom.

===

I'm on my parent's phone plan, but I help pay for my data.  My mom automatically withdraws $50 from my account and texts me, "took $50 this month" just to let me know.

One day I told her, "why don't you take $100?"
"No, Son, that's your money."
"I insist... I can afford to help you."
"Thank you so much.  Okay.  I'll take $100"

Later that week while talking to her in heavy LA traffic she told me that my dad was upset.

"Why would you take money from Christopher!?!"  She quoted my dad.  I laughed. I told her that I wanted to help and I'm not doing anything with the cash so she should take it.

Her response was surprising, "that means a lot to us... it really shows me that you care about your mom and dad and it's so valuable." To me... I was just handing money aside because I didn't need it... to my mom it represented a lot more and I felt so silly for never offering until just last year.

I felt like she was really proud of me and I did something right without intentionally trying. It was a wonderful feeling.

==

Over Christmas break my mom asked if all of my cousins knew "about me."  Instead of "gay" should would replace the word/idea with... "about me" or "like you."  For instance, "are all your friends 'like you?'"  Or "you should keep that part 'about you' to yourself."  As if there was something "about me" that could not be described or understood... that piece of me was not normal.

I confirmed with her that all of my cousins knew "about me" and I used that as opportunity to ask about my dad.

I asked my mom, "does Dad know 'about me'?"
"Yes."
"How"
"Facebook."

I tried to think how Facebook outed me... I remembered that my public profile picture was of me and Jimmy with a giant heart around it during the Prop 8 dance.  When I posted it, I didn't care.  But I guess my Dad saw it.

"So should I talk to Dad about it?"
"No.. give it time, he's really sad... but of course he still loves you, but he's sad... don't be too obvious on facebook"

I nodded like I understood that I needed to be sensitive.  After that conversation, I felt as if I finally came out to my dad without really coming out to him.  The giant pink elephant in the room has a boyfriend... and all assumptions are now a reality... but there's still silence.  And I accepted that time will make things better and I can talk to him... eventually.  I enjoyed that facebook did the work for me.

===

I talked to Joe about this... once again while I was in thick LA traffic and he gave me some perspective.  He intentionally and proudly sealed the deal on his coming out movement with a facebook profile picture captioned, "Answer: Yup" on national coming out day.  He had been out to his parents for years already and couldn't understand why I wasn't since I know for a fact my parents would still love me.

He said something along the lines of how time will not heal... and it would beneficial to talk to my dad immediately so that the time in silence would instead be used as time to accept that being gay is actually not abnormal.  I can show my dad that being gay is wonderful and that I'm really happy with my lifestyle and because of this he shouldn't be ashamed, embarrassed or sad.

.....however....

If I told my dad today he will nod his head and simply say, "I know and I still love you."  Which is where most successful coming out to parents stories end.  But I dream of the day where my parents say that they are proud of me; every single thing "about me."  

Did I turn out to be everything you hoped and dreamed for? Am I the person that you would proudly show off to others?  If you passed away, would you be happy with the legacy that you created?

If I told you I was gay would you still love me be proud of me?
I don't think you would; which makes coming out impossible.

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