Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Conversations With My Mother: A Painful Realization
First a little background: while at home for the Thanksgiving holidays, I went to the doctor's office for a little checkup. After spending an inumberable amount of minutes filling out forms, I was summoned to the doctor's room for the usual round of questions and tests. The questioning, however, inevitably led to the subject of sexual activity.
After confirming my nighttime activities were with men(a fact I would've DIED before admitting a few years ago), the doctor suggested I have a HIV test along with the usual cholesterol test. Long story short, they took blood, I waited, the results came back negative. I didn't tell my parents because that would open a Pandora's Box of questions that I'm not ready to answer just yet.
Lo and behold, my mother calls me yesterday to ask why the bill they received contained a charge for a HIV test. I dance around her questions and explain it was more a preventitive measure than a request on my part. My mother and I have a strange way of talking about sensitive subjects, especially when it comes to my personal life. I've never gotten into a screaming match with her in my entire life. Instead we both talk in vague tones but still know exactly what the other is insinuating or talking about.
Anyways, she's satisfied (or so I thought) with my explanation and hangs up. This afternoon however, I get call while in our yearbook editor-in-chief's office. My mother explains she's been thinking about what we talked about all day. She again questions why the doctor recommended I take an HIV test and not her when she went for similar checkup. I explained it's probably because she's older and married, while we both dance around the elephant in the room--the fact I'm having sex--like the Jacksons under the threat of a beatdown by Papa Joe.
She then gives me all the reasons, biblically, financially and health-wise, why I should wait to have sex until marriage. I respond by saying marriage isn't a guarantee against contracting HIV, that unproctected sex is what causes infection and precautions such as condoms and taking HIV tests with partners. We then get on the subject of God and choices. She asks me, in no uncertain terms, if I think it was wise to have sex, and if God would approve. I say yes.
In that moment, I came to the realization I am not my parents. I think she sensed it too. I could hear a slight worry in her voice, that the little boy who used to lay in her lap in church and play with her necklace and pick flowers for her from the backyard was turning into someone she didn't recognize. A man whose views disagreed with her own, and whose ideas about God and homosexuality no longer matched the ones she and my dad believed and spent 18 years instilling in me and my brother.
We both sense, or at least I do, that things will soon come to a head regarding my sexuality. No more vague conservations and half-truths, but a full unveiling of my private life and relationships, past and present. A time to share the struggles I faced growing up, the times I felt alone, scared and anxiety-ridden. The moment when both my parents will see fully the man that they raised and the life I've made for myself. A time when I will have to accept that we'll agree to disagree on a fundamental part of who I am, even though they will still love me as their son.
I probably came to this realization years ago, but tucked it away in the dark recesses of my mind. Acknowledging that my parents, my entire family, with the exception of my brother, may never accept my sexualty or my relationships hits me to the very core of my personality. I've always been a people pleasure and had a desire to be liked and approved of by everyone, which is probably why I was so closeted for so long. I spent years racking my brain, running my entire childhood and adolesence in my head to figure the root cause of my being bi(I usually say gay because I'm more attracted to men than women, and get tired of explaining it to people) so that I could be 'cured' and be acceptable to everyone. After coming out, I would sometimes rack my brain to figure how to win people over, to make them accept my sexuality.
I now realize that may never happen with some folks--including my parents. But that doesn't make it any less painful.