Giving credit where credit is due

This post is past due I haven’t talked about my mom in a while and I thing its time I gave her credit for the amazing strides in acceptance she has make over the last year and a half-ish. For anyone who has not read my coming out post my mom was less than thrilled but there is no need to relive the past this post is about progress. The other day I told my mom about my plan to propose to my girlfriend in a few months. I expected a that’s nice or oh we should go look at rings but instead she did something i could have never expected. My mother offered me her wedding/engagement rings. My parents got new rings for their 10th anniversary so she actually offered me her original rings. I couldn’t believe it to me this was the ultimate form of acceptance. I had never even considered the possibility and the offer just went above and beyond any reaction I could have imagined. It meant acceptance of my relationship with this woman and acceptance of the woman I love and that means the world to me. My mother has come so far in the last year and a half its so amazing to see how her love for me can begin to change such deeply rooted beliefs. My coming out forced her to challenge things she had held true for over 40 years. With one sentence I shattered what she had been so sure of. As a mother she continued to love me unconditionally and we had many long, open talks as she questioned her beliefs and built this new foundation of acceptance.  She is the kind of mother whose love for her children trumps all else in her life. I’m sure she would willingly tell you it wasn’t an easy journey for her and that she still has trouble but what’s important to me is how far she has come.

Asking permission

Lately I have realized my girlfriend and have been constantly having to ask permission to be places as a couple for example, Easter with her family, family fun day, or my friend’s wedding. It happens on almost a weekly basis at this point. The main reason it happens so often for us is that we live in the same city as her family. I have already met most of her family and the ones I’ve met either have no problem with us being gay or they keep their opinions to themselves and are respectful. The thing is I have never met her dad and he doesn’t want to meet me so we have to ask permission to be anywhere her dad might be and either he doesn’t come or we have to go before he gets there or after he leaves. We were invited to a cookout her moms neighbor is having with the stipulation that we would have to leave before her dad got there. But it’s not even just from her side, we are going to the wedding of a friend of mine in about 3 weeks but before we could officially say we were going my mom wanted to ask permission to make sure there wouldn’t be anyone who had a problem with us being there. My friend’s response was she had seen on Facebook that I’m gay and in a relationship and that she had no problem with us coming to the wedding.

Her dad is very homophobic, my dad may not love that I’m gay but he loves me and would never disrespect me the way her dad disrespects her. Seeing the way her dad acts has made me appreciate my dad even more. My dad treats me no differently now than he ever has. He is respectful to me and to my girlfriend and to be quite honest that’s all I really ask. On the other hand there is her dad he has gone out of his way to not see me. The thing that bothers me the most is that it causes fights between her parents. Yesterday my car broke down at family fun day and we need to tow it somewhere while we found a mechanic. So her mom decided that the easiest thing would be to tow it to their house. Unfortunately it was one of the days her dad was home and he was not happy about my car being parked at his house he left the house before we got there and claimed he was being kicked out of his own home. If you ask me this is bs I would have waited outside the house (like I usually do if he is there and we need to stop by) for her mom to take us home he wouldn’t have to see me at all. They had at least two fights about the whole situation and I hate causing more problems for her and seeing how it all affects my girlfriend. My girlfriend’s mom has been great she likes me and it’s nice to know that we have someone who is there for us and is looking out for us. I think it even makes my mom a little jealous how much her mom gets to see us and be there when we need help.

Okay so getting back on topic when it came to asking permission to be at the wedding I had to ask myself would I go if I were told I couldn’t go with my girlfriend. My gut reaction is no I wouldn’t go. I have made it clear to my parents I wont be around my grandparents because I can’t tell them I’m gay and because I would have to always leave my girlfriend home and I don’t like that. My girlfriend kept telling me it would be alright I could go without her the thing is I don’t want to go with out her she is my plus one. We are together and we go through life together it has become so natural to have her there by my side the idea of leaving her behind because we might make someone uncomfortable makes me uncomfortable. I guess in the feature we will have to take it on a case-by-case basis but I really hate having to ask permission to be somewhere. Especially when it’s somewhere she has every right to be like her grandparents house on Easter. I don’t want her to miss family holidays or weddings just because of our relationship. Yet I’m torn because I know I would be incredibly hurt to be told I couldn’t go, I wasn’t welcome, or to just be left behind. So what do you do when you’re not welcome as a couple? I’m still gay if I go alone and so is she. We are just asking permission to be who we are together. At what point to we stop trying to make other people feel better about our relationship and stop compromising ourselves for their comfort. Is it worth fighting to be somewhere we aren’t accepted?

My mom’s response to my “out enough” post.

Back at the beginning of the year I tried to write a follow up post to Parker’s December 17, 2012 post titled “Out Enough”. Parker sent me and email that basically said:

I love the idea but I want you to expand to remember it’s about giving your perspective. I want you to talk more about telling Uncle Fred talk about why you did it now and tell the story talk about how you felt before and after. Talk about Isaac’s reaction.  You can also talk about how you feel about people finding out via fb does it make it easier? Talk more about your feelings and opinions people want to know what’s going on in your head.

If you have read Parker’s  2/26/2013 post you will understand that adding emotion in to my blog is far from easy for me. It is not because I don’t have strong feelings about my process of dealing with what I’ll call a new normal. Honestly it still does not feel 100% comfortable yet. That is a reflection on me not Parker.

Anyway here is take two with more feeling. In the “Out Enough” post Parker said: “I was talking to my mom about this problem recently and I think she may end up helping me come out. When I talked to her she said she doesn’t tell people because she felt it was my story to tell and not her place to out me. From my point of view it’s her story too and if she wants to tell her brother (who has a gay son) I would encourage it I think it could even create a unique bond between the two of them. As far as people from home go they are really just people from church. Church people can be more complicated but I have told my mom I really am okay with her telling anyone she wants.

 

So I did tell my brother and I have told a couple people at church.  Both “outs” were what I would call blurted out. They were out of the blue and I can’t really say why I picked the moments. It was as if I just had to say something because it was not a secret and I didn’t want to treat it as one. The family I grew up in had a bunch of so called secrets most of which people only thought they were secrets. When one of us learned of the secret we just acted as if we didn’t know. Being the baby of the family I was sometimes the last to know. Other times I knew but didn’t want to upset the “balance” of the family by letting them know I knew. The last few sentences serve to illustrate that the news had to come out,

The first person I told was a person at church. I needed to start the telling. On the spur of the moment of perhaps by God’s prompting I went up to the person and with huge butterflies in my stomach I told her. I used the guise that since I was working with her on a non-profit Christian woman’s ministry I felt she needed to know in case that changed things. There only a split second between the question and the answer. It was a long split second. The response came easily and sincerely. “Look at my face. Does it look like I care?”  We then chatted for a moment. This person’s mother knows us and so does her sister. Interestingly enough for some reason Sally and her sister had been talking about it and both were fairly sure that Parker was gay. Sally relayed to me that her sister thought Parker was great and that had not changed. So one church family knew and I now had a safe haven. Not telling people made what I had been going through made the journey harder. Since Parker had told me she was gay there had been a lot of ups and downs and no one to stand by me.  The response was sincere and gave me a sense of hope that maybe I could be honest with my church family; a Baptist church family at that.

The next hurdle was telling my brother. Parker wanted me to tell him while we were at his house for Christmas. There was so much chaos I didn’t want to add to it and frankly I did not want to listen to my sister-in-law go on about her son who is gay and how she felt about it. To be honest I knew what my sister-in-law thought about her son being gay but I had never heard my brother talk about it. My brother is the master at compartmentalizing. He says that is was how he stayed alive. One day after work I called by brother while I was sitting in my car in the parking lot. Again an impromptu decision, there was not rehearsal, no agonizing just a simple pronouncement. I started by saying that his other son might have mentioned the pictures on Facebook and told him that Parker was gay. Well that had not happened. So there was a pause and then my brother said he was sorry I was having to go through this. I could imagine his gesture putting his hand up to his heart as a way to signal the emotion and sincerity of his statement. It was a gesture I had seen before on rare occasions. We talked about when and how I found out. He briefly talked about the fact that he knew that the way things were between he and his and son were less than ideal and expressed the hope that Parker and I could find a better balance. He expressed the desire that his son would be as willing to consider my brother’s feelings and struggle as he expected my brother to be. He made a profound statement that made me understand how he felt. He said that Joe does not seem to understand that the beliefs my brother holds have been held for longer than the beliefs Joe holds. I think it was his way of saying that Joe needed to respect his need to feel the way he does even if he does not agree with it. I talked about how Parker had handled coming out to us very well and had been patient; giving me time to work through the maze of feelings I was experiencing.  It was a good conversation and again I felt a little bit better. Then came my sister-in law’s email where she was attempting to identify with me and encourage me? Yes I put as question mark at the end of the sentence. The email was frankly more hurtful them helpful and I deleted it so I would not go back and reread it and feel angry and horrible all over again.

I have continued to tell people at church. They give me a similar reaction. “Parker is still Parker and we love her. We will be praying for her and you. What I am struggling with right now if the fact that I know these people well. Some of them I have known for over 20 years. Unfortunately this means I have heard what they have said behind other people’s back.  I can guess what they say when I am not around. The positive thing is that people who have gone through this journey and are ahead of me on the path having been willing to talk about their experiences. I have also had the chance to talk to someone just starting this journey and give her a safe place to talk with someone who understands the maze of feelings that accompanied the news that her child was gay.

Parker I hope this shows more emotion and what is going on in my head. Sometimes it is hard to share because I don’t want to hurt you by revealing that this still isn’t easy for me. I am really trying. I hope you know that. I love you-Mom

Why can’t people keep their mouths shut?

So I feel like I have to share this story. I have been working in retail for a while and one of the things I have learned is that people can be astronomically stupid. I was at work the other day and as I walked down the middle of the store a woman walking towards me was obviously staring at me in the most awkward way possible. When I got closer she started to speak of course I thought she just had a question. I was very wrong what she did is say to me “sorry I couldn’t tell if you were a boy or a girl but then I saw your name tag and realized you’re a girl.” I was too stunned to say anything back I just laughed and kept on walking. What do you say to that? I told my girlfriend and she and her mom were both appalled as well as my sister. None of us could figure out why she just couldn’t keep her mouth shut the staring was bad enough. What drives a person to say something like that? I don’t care what she thinks of me I just wish she would keep it to herself. I know its bad but part of me can’t wait till someone says something stupid like that in front of my girlfriend. She is the protective sort and would give them a piece of her mind and I would just love to watch. I would be willing to guarantee they would quickly learn to keep their mouths shut (and that it would be hilarious).

It’s not the question it’s the reaction that gets me.

I have had children ask me if I am boy or a girl for years and more times than I wish to count. It happened again today and it made me realize that its not the question specifically that makes me panic it’s the reaction of the adults that gets me.

A few weeks ago I was cashiering at work and a little boy about 6 or 7 asked me if I was a boy or a girl I informed him I’m a girl and his mother got this horribly embarrassed look on her face and began to apologize. Unfortunately I have a very physical reaction to my emotions so my heart stared racing and I got rather shaky as he then asked his mom why I have sort hair then walked over to his brother and informed him I was actually a girl I just had short hair. When I finally left the register I immediately went to find my girlfriend to talk to her so I could calm down a bit. Unfortunately she was talking to someone but when she saw me she immediately tell something was wrong.

Today it happened with a little girl who was about 3 I heard her ask her mom if I was a boy or a girl the mother calmly told the little girl to ask me my name. Since I have a very feminine name this method was a good way to answer the question then she had the little girl tell me her name. The mother didn’t get upset or apologize she just taught her daughter a way to answer the question herself. I would guess in the majority of cases this could be a good way to go just don’t assume anything and ask someone their name and introduce yourself. When I texted my girlfriend later talking about what had happened while I cashiered I jokingly old her only one kid had asked me if I was a girl or a boy and her response was “I’m sorry” and I realized that todays interaction hadn’t really bothered me the mother handled it so well it wasn’t really awkward or embarrassing.

When I was in college it was the preschoolers in a class I taught at church. Which meant I had to deal with the looks and smirks of the other teachers and I found that very embarrassing I would answer the question and very quickly change the subject. It seems to me that kids are generally just young and curious. They have already begun to be taught gender norms and I mess with those ideas and confuse them. It’s the adults that get flustered and embarrassed and make me nervous.

Sometimes I just don’t have the words.

I have never been good at dealing with or sharing my feelings and over the years this had been frustrating for some of people in my life. I think I come by this trait naturally, Lucy could cry at the drop of the hat but me I take after my mother its safer if no one sees you cry. In high school my best friend told me she thought it was weird that I didn’t seem to have emotions. It struck me as an odd statement I worked hard not to show emotion not to show weakness. The thing she didn’t understand was it wasn’t that I didn’t have feelings I just chose to hide my feelings to ignore them altogether. In my moms family feelings are a sign of weakness and they pray on the weak so my mother unintentionally taught me to protect myself. The problem with not showing emotions is you get really good at being numb and eventually you will crack. You end up shutting people out and no one really knows you so you feel alone. For me the idea of trusting someone with my thoughts and feelings was terrifying I had a hard time accepting myself so why would I trust someone else to accept me.

I have gotten better over the years but as this blog may show there are a lot of things I haven’t figured out or just don’t know how to explain. This is turning out to be very frustrating for my girlfriend. She ends up feeling like I’m hiding things or just shutting her out. Of course neither of those things is my intention I just don’t know what to say or even where to start. How do you explain a feeling to someone that they have never had? There are things I don’t feel like I even know how to talk about I just cant find the right words. I have shared more with her than most people will ever know and I think some of the frustration comes from me not being able to find the words to express myself.

The other day after I was particularly moody we found a semi-solution. We watched youtube videos together. It may seem like a strange solution but it gave me a chance to let someone else try to explain my feelings to her. I could put on a video and say just listen to what she says because that’s what I feel or what I go through. I did this for Lucy once too one day when I went to visit her at her dorm and we ended up watching videos about gender and being butch and other things I didn’t know how to talk about yet. There are very few people I have ever heard talk about the things that feel so for me the videos were comforting for a moment I don’t feel like such a freak.

My girlfriend refuses to let me shut down and ignore all my feelings, which is good for me I just also find is frustrating and exhausting. She is one of the most accepting people I have ever met. She seems to genuinely love me for exactly who I am she just wants to understand that person. Like most people she wants concrete answers that I don’t know how to give her and this becomes frustration for the both of us. My gender identity is something I just avoid talking about for the most part. I am a masculine person who sometimes hates their body and avoids public bathrooms whenever possible this is the most people usually get but she seems to want more.

Thoughts of Christmas past, present and future

Growing up, Christmas was a big deal at our house. It was the one time of year where I would get very brief glimpse of my parents’ inner child. As a child, I remember getting a rocking chair that was just my size . I remember getting my first piece of real jewelry and how happy it made me knowing that my Dad had a big part of picking it out. Then, I remember Christmases when my nieces and nephews were little. Several years in a row we were up late putting together some toy that said, “some assembly required. Then came the Christmas when Parker and Lucy were little and I got each of them their own just-their-size rocking chair. We loved to go see the Christmas lights. From the time Parker and Lucy were little we would get one or more children off the “Angel Tree” and go shopping for the person we chose. As the kids grew they became more and more involved in choosing the children and shopping for them. Now I think this may be the highlight of the Christmas Season for us. I am proud that Parker and Lucy have kind hearts and can think of others at Christmas time.

 

This Christmas is a transitional Christmas for us. For the first time Parker does not have a Christmas break. I think this change has been hard for both Parker and me. It was not until after Christmas last year that Parker decided not to go to grad school. Up until then we both thought there would be several more Christmas breaks. We will adapt. This is also the first Christmas for my great-nephew, which excites me. I don’t think Parker and Lucy are that excited. On of the things I know will happen this year will be that Parker and Lucy will open one gift on Christmas Eve. They already know what it will be. It will be the same thing as last year and the year before that. I asked them if they wanted me to stop our traditional Christmas Eve gift of pajamas now that they are grown. I’ll admit I was glad when they said no. So this year they will open their Christmas Eve gift and hopefully will remember fondly Christmas past.

 

So what will Christmas future look like? I have no delusions that Parker and Lucy will be home for Christmas Eve and Christmas day every year. I expect that a significant others will come into their lives and they will spend Christmas with the in-laws some years. That is as it should be. Some of our Christmases will be before or after December 25th but that is okay silver dollars will be under the plate and we will celebrate the birth of Jesus and his continuing faithfulness to our family.

 

So Parker and Lucy my challenge to you is to remember Christmas past, enjoy Christmas present and look forward with anticipation and expectation to Christmas future.

 

 

Out enough?

Am I still “out enough”? I am out to the people in my everyday life so basically my immediate family and a few friends. This creates weird situations a few times a year where I’m around extended family or people from home and for a short time I fell the anxiety that comes along with going back in the closet. Closets suck the problem is there never really is a good time to come out to people who aren’t a part of my daily life. What am I supposed to do come out in the middle of a family Christmas?

After telling my parents I was just considering myself “out enough” I didn’t feel any need to go out of my way to tell anyone else. Which works fine until things like Christmas roll around and being around family brings up these questions. I want people to know I just don’t want to have to tell them. Does that seem silly? Telling people is a hassle and seems crazy. You tell someone a very personal detail of your life then wait for them to tell you how they feel about it. At this point I would rather people just know for a few reasons. The first is I don’t like having to keep track of who does or doesn’t know and I hate having to filter what I say it makes me feel like I have something to hide. I also know that as far as people from home go I don’t live there but my parents do. This means I have essentially built a closet for them to live in too.

I was talking to my mom about this problem recently and I think she may end up helping me come out. When I talked to her she said she doesn’t tell people because she felt it was my story to tell and not her place to out me. From my point of view it’s her story too and if she wants to tell her brother (who has a gay son) I would encourage it I think it could even create a unique bond between the two of them. As far as people from home go they are really just people from church. Church people can be more complicated but I have told my mom I really am okay with her telling anyone she wants. To be honest it just helps me out. She does seem to want to tell church people as well. It’s not hard to see that it hurts her that our church can be a rather unwelcoming place. She wants it to be the kind of place where I will be accepted and feel comfortable and she seems to be willing to start some of the conversations that could get people thinking and make those changes happen. I admire her for this. She has always been the type of mother who protected her children. We have always joked that my mom is like a bear and the worst place to be is between a momma bear and her cubs. I also love that she has gotten to a place where she is comfortable telling people and comfortable with dealing with their possible negativity and unkind comments.

Get to know you questions.

I’m Parker and you already know me I’m the gay one who started this blog. This get to know you post was more for you to learn about my mom and sister and a first run at the new way of doing things.

Get to know you questions

Tell me about your first car. My first car was a white minivan that had been sitting in our yard for a while. I sarcastically named it old faithful and ended up stalled out on the side of the road quite a few times. At one point neither of the side doors worked so for Lucy to sit in the back she had to climb in through the trunk. My personal favorite flaw of the car was that one of the sliding doors would fall off if you opened it (Lucy broke the car she also spilled chocolate milk all over it when she was little). My least favorite was the air conditioning didn’t work along with the driver side window not working and it’s very hot where I live. It wasn’t the greatest car but I learned how not to panic when your car is staling in the middle of traffic. With things like that I just say they build character.

What was your most memorable class?  My junior year of college I took a class called biomedical ethics and loved it! I love a good ethics debate (as long as everyone keeps their emotions in check).

What is your favorite joke? Two men walk into a bar and the third one ducks.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? I would choose to breath underwater. I have been told it’s a lame super power but I don’t care I used to scuba dive and I loved it. You can see so many awesome things and it’s very peaceful. I would love to just go hang out 30 feet deep for a while just watching everything.

What do you keep in the trunk of your car? So much junk! Shoes, a bike helmet, a football, a softball glove and ball, right now there is a dolly from when Lucy moved into her dorm, a pair of shoes. Basically everything I don’t want in my apartment is in my trunk.

Five words to describe yourself: Sarcastic, Introverted, Honest, Hardworking, Loyal

 

 

In order for you to get to know the three of us better we all answered a few questions. Enjoy.

My name is Lucy. I am Parker’s younger sister. I am a sophomore social work major.

Tell me about your first car.

I was blessed to get a two door ‘98 Honda Civic for my 16th birthday. We learned from Parker’s bad luck with cars so my car is a bit nicer. My friend has the same make and model and it just blew a head gasket. Fingers crossed mine has a few more years!

What was your most memorable class?

On my top three list is my Spanish class. The first day of class, the teacher had us meditate. The final exam involved us videotaping ourselves solving a murder mystery talking only in Spanish. She had people lying around campus to act as bodies. The time between the first day and the final was equally unconventional.

What is your favorite joke?

A duck walks into a bar and asks, “Got any grapes?”

The bartender, confused, tells the duck no. The duck thanks him and leaves.

The next day, the duck returns and asks, “Got any grapes?”

Again, the bartender tells him, “No — the bar does not serve grapes, has never served grapes and, furthermore, will never serve grapes.” The duck thanks him and leaves.

The next day, the duck returns, but before he can say anything, the bartender yells, “Listen, duck! This is a bar! We do not serve grapes! If you ask for grapes again, I will nail your stupid duck beak to the bar!”

The duck is silent for a moment, and then asks, “Got any nails?”

Confused, the bartender says no.

”Good!” says the duck. “Got any grapes?”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to have the superpower of Kat from the second season of Alphas (without the side effects of course). I want to learn anything by watching or reading about it. My learning would be complete and take no practice. Such a skill would be really useful in helping me do all the things I want to do. It could also help me help others by cutting down on the amount of time it takes for me to learn a new skill. I could learn the entire law code once and then be able to help a client whenever I need. Altruism aside, though, this is really to help me learn how to Photoshop and video edit. You could argue it would take all the fun out of learning, but I won’t miss it. I will be off doing all the fun things I learned.

What do you keep in the trunk of your car? I have I giant plastic bin to protect everything because my car leaks. Since before Thanksgiving, I’ve had a dvd player siting in that box by its lonesome self. I keep forgetting to take it out. It serves as a testament to my eternal laziness and absentmindedness.

The 5 words to describe me are creative, absentminded, empathetic, nurturing, and perfectionistic.

 

 

My mom’s answers to the get to know you questions.

My first car was a gold Chevy Caprice with a serious engine. Think Sherman tank on wheels.

My favorite class was a college Mythology class. It was a pretty easy A and everyone wanted the class because the prof was so entertaining. He would dress up as the various mythological characters. I even remember his name, Professor Scanlan.

My superpower would be time travel so I can see the world and be there for historic events.

In my trunk is water, gym shoes and usually I have a blanket or jacket.

5 words to describe me: Loyal, loquacious, large, laughable, lawyer

Blog Colaboration/Redo

I love words with double meanings; that is a big part of why I named the blog Queer Perspective. Before I started writing, I several friends told me I have a very different perspective on being gay and Christian and since I’m gay and the blog is about different perspectives Queer Perspective seemed like a logical name (plus I like the way it sounds).

So I have decided to change the blog a bit. From now on I will try to write more and I also plan on having my mom and sister write more. The idea will be for all three of us to give our differing perspectives on an issue. The idea is that even when we write on topics alone, any of us can go back and add to or respond the blog so it is more of a collaboration. So, there will be different perspectives with my queer perspective. We have a list of topics already so hopefully we will get motivated. The scope of topics we will talk about will also change. I am hoping to get my mom to write about some of her life experiences.  My plan is for our next post will be a sort of intro/reintroduction of all three of us.

 

P.S. Here is a cute picture of my dog to distract you from how long its been since my last post.

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