Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mix and Match

“I’m so glad to be back here, back at college, back where I don’t feel like such a freak,” Adam says relaxing into the chair. “I knew the summer would be rough, but I had no idea how rough. In Boca Raton I might get stared at for being black and yes sometimes I have to laugh to myself when I walk along the street and see these little old white ladies make sure their car doors are locked, but being gay in Savannah, Georgia, now that’s tough! And add Alex into the mix and then my family and it’s pure hell.”  

“Alex was with you?” I ask confused.

“Yeah, I know, that wasn’t part of the plan. But we got lonely for each other. Figured he could find some kind of work as easy in Savannah as Baltimore.”

“But I thought you weren’t out to your parents.”

“I wasn’t. Past tense. Didn’t plan to come out when Alex came down either. But after a while my Mom started wondering how come I was so close to this white dude that he’d come for a visit and then sort of move in. Besides, I’m sure we were giving off these vibes. Hard for us to keep our hands off each other. Not that we were having sex in my parent’s house. I wouldn’t be that stupid.

“Anyway, she flipped out. Said she didn’t care if it was legal in the courts. She knew God didn’t consider it right. And of course she told my Pop and then all hell broke loose. By brother freaked too. I think he’s afraid it’s contagious. Pop pretty much didn’t talk to me the whole summer. And Alex had to move out. A friend of mine let him stay at his house for next to no money, so that worked out okay.” 

“You know, Adam, I wonder if you didn’t want to come out to your parents.”

“You mean because I had Alex come down?”

“Yeah. As you said. He’s white, you could hardly keep your hands off each other and you couldn’t help giving off sexual vibes.”

Adam frowns and stares at me. “It wasn’t only sexual vibes. Loving vibes too.”

“I’m sure that’s true.”

“Are you sure?”

“You’re asking if I made the usual assumption about gay men, that it’s all about sex.”

“Yeah. Were you?” 

“That’s hard for me to answer, Adam. I’d say that consciously, no, I wasn’t making that assumption, but unconsciously, it’s impossible for me to know. I also wonder if I would have made the same assumption about a heterosexual couple who was twenty years old.”

“I’m sorry. I know you’re not homophobic. I guess I’m just hypersensitive given all I’ve been through this summer.”

“Nothing to apologize for. There’s plenty of gay prejudice out there, just like there’s plenty of racial prejudice. I couldn’t swear I’m free of all of it. For that matter, we don’t know if you’re free of all of it. Hard not to take in society’s attitudes and end up feeling less yourself.”  

“You know, maybe that’s another reason I wanted Alex to come down. Even though I wasn’t out to my parents, I could see how people looked at me, my “brothers.” I could feel the contempt. Maybe I started feeling less than. Maybe I wanted someone who I knew loved me to be with me.”

“That’s a really good point, Adam. And maybe that’s another reason you wanted to come out to your parents. Maybe you hoped they’d love you enough to accept you even if you’re gay.”

“It’s not that I think they don’t love me. Or at least I know my Mom does. I don’t know about my Dad. But I don’t know if I expected them to accept my gayness. It’s a lot to ask of black Christian folks from the south.”

“You know, Adam, I have very mixed feelings about what you just said. On the one hand, it’s very adult and reasonable for you to be able to step back and accept your parent’s prejudice given who they are as people and where they come from. But there’s another side. If you were born blind, or with one leg, or with a low IQ, would you feel it was all right if your parents couldn’t accept that about you or is your willingness to “understand” their rejecting your gayness, another example of how a part of you still rejects your gayness yourself?”

“Wow! That’s heavy! I’ll have to think about that.” Adam smiles. “I love being here, doc. You always get me to think about things in different ways. As I said, I’m real glad to be back.”

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