A little over three years ago I wrote my parents a letter telling them I was gay. My friends and I referred to it as The Letter and we set a deadline for delivery of The Letter and referred to it as The Deadline. Well, The Deadline passed and The Letter hadn’t been sent as planned and I spent another year in bi-weekly therapy contemplating the unknowable circumstances that may arise from actually sending The Letter to The Parents. My therapist assured me, and said I would make it out alive when all was said and done. She also told me that I should call and tell them to expect a something in the mail if I did, in fact, send The Letter already you cry-baby bitch. Never being one to listen to anyone who makes any sense, I continued to put off the big event. I had all sorts of excuses for why it wasn’t a good time: It’s my birthday, my mom’s birthday, it’s Jesus’ birthday, I have a headache, I’m too hungry, it’s Tuesday.
Janie and I were planning to spend her September birthday in fabulous Las Vegas in 2005. Other than her best friend’s wedding in Santa Barbara the prior spring, and an atrocious trip to Vancouver to celebrate her birthday a few years before that wherein she contracted some horrible stomach ailment and my feelings caused me to get mad at her for an illness she had no control over, this was to be our first real, true, happy vacation together. Along with the celebration of another year in her life, we had planned on looking at a few wedding chapels for our up and coming February 2006 gay commitment extravaganza in Sin City. I figured that since our wedding was a scant five months away, I should finally get on sending The Letter to The Parents. So, without telling anyone, I slipped an envelope into the local post office box the evening before our departure.
Anyone who knows me knows I can’t keep a secret, so it was only a matter of minutes before I informed both Janie and my sister of what I had just done. Anyone who knows my sister knows she’s a squealer, too, so it wasn’t long before her husband and several of their friends knew as well. The following day, we left for Vegas, driven to the airport by my parents who had no idea what would be awaiting them in their mailbox in a matter of hours.
Upon our arrival, well past mail delivery time, I called my parents to let them know we arrived it and, luckily, had been upgraded to a suite overlooking the Strip. I listened for any sign of impending doom, but heard nothing beyond their usual happy selves. My sister called, asking if I’d talked to them about The Letter, and wanted to let me know that all of her friends were eagerly awaiting the news that a discussion had taken place. We spent the next several days contemplating their reaction to The Letter, reasons why, whenever they called my cell phone, they sounded so normal and happy and also, losing hundreds of dollars learning to play my new favorite game, Craps!
We arrived home several days later to the same state of affairs we had left. No one showed any signs of knowing anything they hadn’t already known before our trip – except the cats, who now knew loneliness and hunger, as we’d forgotten to arrange for a sitter. I told my sister that I was starting to get angry. It had taken me fifteen years to finally tell them something I’d spent all that time worrying would make them hate me, and their reaction was silence. I checked my mail to make sure it hadn’t been returned and that my outrage was justified and was sure there was no reason they should not have received it. My sister, being the squealer she is, finally called my mom and asked if they had “gotten anything in the mail from [me]?” to which my mother replied, “No, what is it?” As it turns out, they hadn’t bothered to check the mailbox in a few days (who doesn’t check their mail for almost a week!?). Reason number one not ever to come out to your parents via USPS. At least FedEx it. I know this now, especially since my therapist can’t stop saying “I told you so” every time I see her.
I received a call from my mother the day following her conversation with my sister. She said that they had gotten The Letter, that they had read it, weren’t surprised at all and that they still loved me, despite the fact that I broke that ceiling fan twenty years ago, so why would a little homosexuality change that? I was overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t know how to act now that the cat was out of the bag. I cried, wept – ugly face, heaving sounds and an utter and complete inability to control my flailing limbs and all – while my mother kept trying to soothe me by saying “STOP CRYING! STOP CRYING!”
My parents invited me over for breakfast and gay chat soon after, and we finally had an opportunity to sit and share our feelings. It was sticky and messy and ugly, both because we hadn’t really done the whole “talking about things that matter” before and because I’d gotten some horrible food poisoning at a Greek Festival the previous night and kept having to get up and vomit in between sentiments. As it turned out, they were saddened by the fact that I couldn’t just tell them I was gay, that I had to typewrite (I have bad handwriting when I write emotional things, get off my back!) them a letter and send it in the mail before running away to Las Vegas. At the same time, I told them I was saddened by the fact that, if they knew all along, they didn’t just say so and tell me they loved me so I wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars on therapy to have a stranger tell me they would still love me and not call me a crazy homosexual pervert. My dad assured me that they didn’t want to assume anything that might not be true, and oh, dear God, how we wish is wasn’t true, but still have found a way to love you, our daughter, the homosexual pervert. I think we all left that meeting feeling both better (for having talked a little) and worse (for having talked a little). I know I was just excited to go home and throw up in my own bathroom and talk to Janie on the phone, as she traveled home from school on the bus, while I cried and assured her I was dying a horrible death by Greek Food, and she would find my bloated carcass upon her arrival.
Two years later, my parents have grown to love Janie and have accepted her as a part of our family. My father actually loves her more than he loves me and is always shoving me aside to greet her with a hug. The only signs of any difference in opinion is that my parents wish we had religion in our lives – meaning a religion that believes in Jesus and the Bible, not the devil-worship and goat-sacrificing one most lesbians and gays are in to. My mother only asks I not be in the gay pride parade, naked and on a motorcycle, and I just had to put my food down right there, because sometimes a gay girl just has to flash her vagina to a crowd of strangers on an city street Otherwise, what’s the point?
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for much more. I have parents who, despite my best efforts, love me and my wife. They are eager to include us, to understand what it means to be gay in this world and, most importantly, to find out which one of us is the man. My mother even calls to tell me such things as “change to channel seven because Chastity Bono, Cher’s GAY DAUGHTER, is on television and boy, oh, boy…she is definitely the man.”
Aah…it’s good to be a gay.