Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We're Not Bad Kids!

Dear Reader,

It's funny when you think about everything we had to go through to get to this point. We're adults now, seemingly capable of managing our own lives. So why is it that at the age of 24, each time we screw up noticeably, it's like we're right back on daddy's lap, getting a spanking?

As if the spanking isn't bad enough, we get that look of utter disgust and disappointment. And for a few of us special ones, we even get the pudgy after-faces that come from having cried about what a disappointment we turned out to be.

Sex, drugs, and alcohol! Those were the things we were told to stay away from. And did we listen? Heck yes we did! We got good grades in school, we brought home trophies and awards, we participated in extra curricular activities (albeit mindful of our parents' schedules). We were stellar. Heck, most of my friends have never even jokingly held a cigarette between their fingers, much less smoked or even seen weed. And now that we've grown up, the days of worshiping mommy and daddy are gone...

We're overwhelmed with guilt about how badly we just don't want to be like our parents wanted us to be. There was no official pressure to be anything, really. But now that we are who we are... we're bad kids.

It's a bit of a secret, but about 9 months ago I came out to my parents (I don't talk about it much because they've begged me not to). The L word was too difficult for me to say, so the best I could muster up was "I'm not attracted to men." What a Glorious line! I think the words "I'm not" must have come out of my mouth at least a hundred times before the words "attracted to men" followed once and ended with silence. As traumatizing as the experience was for me, my trauma was nothing in comparison to what my parents are still going through. In the flash of a moment, everything I had accomplished by the age of 23, all the respect they had the humbleness to show me, was gone. Sure, they said things like "We still love you" and "this doesn't make you a bad person" but they've not once looked at me the same way again. That's not all, it got a lot worse than a couple comforting lines... but I'll leave that for another post.

By the Age of 20, I had been working for a Fortune 10 (not 500, not even 50, but 10!) company for over 3 years. Not to mention that by that point I was teaching ballroom dance, had written, directed, and enjoyed the production (handled by my now fiancee) of my own play. Might I add that I also had completed my BA from a prestigious 4-year university and with the commencement ceremony, I afforded my parents the greatest basket of bragging rights available. They were the "talk of the town" or at least our community. I had the family priest's blessing and all. But what good did that do me when I thought I was doing the right thing and decided to share the most honest piece of me with my parents? None. The words "Mom, Dad, I'm gay" never really came out of my mouth. And the load that everyone thought was magically lifted in the moment I finally said "I'm not attracted to men" was never lifted. It was quadrupled on my chest. Basket of bragging rights in ashes, I'm now the black sheep. And my sister, who otherwise could have cared less about being loved and accepted by our ever-judgemental family and community is now our parents' hope chest. I am now, the bad kid...

They look at me with tears in their eyes, angry as all hell because I've chosen to spend the rest of my life with a woman who adores me, a woman who wants to take care of me just because she loves me. That same woman, just happens to have the most unreasonable parents on the planet, who at the drop of a confirming hatpin, will make my family's life a living hell... just because I love their daughter. So, gay and in love with the Capulet heiress... I find myself in a shitty situation. My parents think I'm the bad kid. The Capulets think I'm the devil's own. Bush is laughing at us. Children are starving in Africa. Druggies are smokin out. Teenagers are having premature babies and dumping them in trash cans. There's still a huge market for AA meetings. And just because I found happiness with the Capulets' daughter I'm labeled as "The bad kid."

And I'm not alone. Sure I'm gay = I'm bad. But what about those friends of mine who didn't exactly shock their parents' world with similar news? I've got friends who were brought to tears for not choosing to take over the family business. "what do you mean you don't want to be a lawyer?" Better yet, I've got family who still asks me "What is co-mu-nee-caa-shen? Who you co-mu-nee-caat wid? Estra-terestreee-alssss? Don't you want to be a lawyer instead?" No. regardless of how it happens, I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for those of my friends who are still getting the virtual slap.

I can just feel the hot, wet, bamboo stick being prepared by Mother Superior Mildred, waiting for the opportunity to smack our baby butts with:

"What's the meaning of this bill?" WHIP!

"Have you put any money aside?" WHAP!

"When are you going to get married?" SMACK!

"I want grandchildren!" SLAP

"Of all those people you mingle with, how is it you haven't snagged a boy yet?" SLAP, SLAP, double SLAP

"What's the meaning of this? Do you know what time it is? Do you think my house is a hotel for you to come into and go out of as you please?" SMASH IN THE FACE

I think we could all use a break - not a break in the head, but a break from our parents. Life has enough obligatory pressures in it. Why succumb to the guilt our parents give us? Why? Because we love them. As much as we want to break free and be who we want to be... we love them. We; Us, the money-squandering, party-animal, no-grandchild-bearing, and even gay: bad kids!

Bad to the bone,



Count Mockula said...

I hope that it's just because it's all new and that a couple years from now your 'rents will be sporting PFLAG stickers on their cars. I'm sorry it was so hard.

useless_rambler said...

(found you from SueBob...)

I'm sorry. Sorry that we live in a world where you aren't given the same respect and consideration as others. And I'm sorry that coming out didn't lift that proverbial weight. Like, count mockula, I hope for you that your parents will come around.

Just arrived today... you are an *amazing* writer. I will definitely 'stay tuned'!!!