There are days when the words flow out of my mind, through the keyboard, and onto the blog. For the last few days this hasn't been the case.
I'm suffering from a case of writer's block and face an inarticulate moment. I dunno how to place my thoughts, with feeling, on the blog, and not sound so childish, elementary, and emotional. True, there are my inspirational moments when I can convey everything rattlin' around upstairs eloquently. Today, try as I might, each word resembles a child's reader.
Phttt! This is bullshit. I will do my best to blog my inner conflict.
Since Saturday, my mind and heart have been battling over self-esteem and security. Sunday, I simply bottomed out and needed to just wallow in misery and cry until I could regroup. My parent's visit last weekend, while enjoyable, was taxing. A deep funk settles in days after their visits. Each time I'm around my mum and stepdad, I regress. Their skepticism and disapproval weighs heavy on my soul. Too often, I find myself carefully choosing my words, fearful of being chastised or lectured by them when they're around.
A parental visit is such an ordeal. When they come, beforehand, I go through a whirlwind to clean my house, make sure nothing offensive is out, and present myself for inspection. Not overly concerned about my lifestyle "tastes," I usually just hide my copies of The Advocate and take down the naked black men postcards on my refrigerator. I do, however, draw the line taking down the artwork hanging on the walls. That shit is a pain to rehang and level again. Oh brother please!
Additionally, if you think I have the time or the inclination to hide all my books by multiple gay authors, oh honey, no! I'm not havin' it! If questions arise, good! At last! I can go on, finally, and live my truth. This routine is irksome and really addresses unresolved shame.
So why not just come out to your folks, Ian?
Easier said than done. Given my mother's displeasure and hurt at my father's own sexual proclivities, saying something about my sexual misadventures would drive her well over the edge. It would only exacerbate the complex relationship I already have with my mum, which at best, can be described as tedious. I can only imagine the look of hurt, scorn, and disapproval; the whole sense I let her down. The last thing I need in my life now is more ridicule and scorn. Aw, Hell no!
What helps me to get through, is that on some level, she has to know. My mother just hasn't come to terms with dealing with a same gender loving son. One could even argue, to a point, she still has a son interested in women, just not 100%. I occasionally date and sleep with women (and yes I'm always upfront with them. Fortunately, I know more than a few bisexual women). Pondering "coming out" to my parents brings nauseous angst. It's the last closet door yet to be opened. With good hope and faith, I want to have that conversation sometime this year. Just not now.
Sometimes, I catch my folks staring at me with vacant discordant eyes, like they're trying to analyze my manhood. I'm not sure if this equates to them questioning my sexuality, but definitely my masculinity. My neighborhood back home would call me "soft" or a "punk ass." Sadly, I've heard these worlds come out my parents' mouths before. There is some real negative energy flow on the topic of male homosexuality. Oh they've no problem with gay women, but gay men? Mmt nmm. Not in our family.
Questioning my own mannerisms, well, lately even I deliberate over my masculine worth. Not that I equate sexuality with manhood, I don't, but I do have my "grrrrrl" moments, something I agonize over. In order for me to come forward about my personal truth, I need to be 100% secure in myself. Regretfully, I'm not there yet. Some internalized homophobia lingers and it annoys me beyond measure. I'm sick of dealing with these issues and having to jump through hoops!
At 38, I didn't anticipate living in the shadows with my family. I wanted my life well established and confident. Can I live my life without approval from others? Why do I have to have everyone love and like me? Isn't my own self-acceptance enough? Obviously not.
I've always sought the need for countenance from others. Given how my childhood unfolded, so many mixed messages were instilled in me. Fear and self-loathing dictated many of my actions through my teens and young adulthood. In my 20s, I thought I'd finally reached the limit and let my soul fly. Simply, I got tired of pretending to be someone I wasn't. Yet, whenever I'm around my folks, I turn into a sycophant, agreeable little child, afraid to stand on my own decisions. I feel too embarrassed to be myself around them. I won't assert myself.
I confess, that with my parents, I still attempt to be the dutiful responsible son. The possibility of losing their love and support frightens me. I'm not sure I could handle the rejection. Factor in my own intense loneliness I've been feeling of late, and you got a fine mess going on. My existence would be pointless. Just brand me the son who tore the family apart. I've been able to deal with ridicule and laughter from strangers and friends, but not from my family. Underneath it all, I'm just a little boy who is seeking unconditional love.
Even with the rebellious periods in my life with careless and reckless sexual behavior, denigrating vice with alcohol and drug abuse, I always knew the limit, never pushed the envelop beyond my parents' final reproach. I've attempted to live my life as loyal, compliant, and worthy to continue to gain their love. Each action, each word, each desire, when reviewed, has been weighed against my parents' approval. It's been a delicate balance. Believe me, I heard enough times from both my mum and dad, "stop with all that white people mess!" whenever I showed interest that didn't meet their proper black standards.
Race issues in my home growing up was always complicated. Even though my mum is biracial, my stepdad isn't and there never was any question to being black. No floundering. Period. Be black or be nothing at all. As I've gotten older the attitude has relaxed, but I see them pushing the same message on my niece. Bryanna, who goes to a Catholic girls school, has mostly white girls as her peers. Naturally, she's picked up on some of those "white people" mannerisms and speech. Poor child! I've caught more than once my mum and dad cuttin' eyes at each other or sounding under their breath. I usually throw sister-girl a life line and talk with her. Being a linguistic chameleon, I can act and "talk" white with the best of them. Too, thank God, my niece is learning French so we have conversations in either French or Spanish where she can be herself. My parents speak neither language.
'Anna has this much going for her though, she's gonna be straight. At 13, she's comin' into her own, puberty wise, and boys have just entered on her radar. Unlike her older cousin, Tomas, and me, her uncle, she escaped the family homosexual gene. With my nephew, there is a straight line of gay or bisexuality in my family... my dad's dad, my father, me, and then Tomas. So you can't tell me being gay is a choice. It's genetic. That's conversation for another blog post, however.
Messages about being gay cropped up from time to time in my youth. Those lectures were never pretty. Once my mother found pictures of men under my bed and I got the lecture of a lifetime. "Don't you feel mixed up and confused?" You'd thought I've committed some crime! So I learned to dance around sexuality in my teens and threw myself wholeheartedly into girls. Fortunately, the sexual molestation stopped right around 13 or abouts, therefore I wasn't acting out homosexually, so the sexual lectures were few, far, and in-between. Thank the Lawd. Till this day, I try my best never to use "mixed up and confused" in a sentence. It brings up too painful memories when I do.
In my 20s I learned to hide my shit very well. My rage at having done this is astronomical. Why did I live for someone else? If only I could've accepted myself sexually, had unconditional support, my journey would've been so much easier. Instead, I suffered at my own hands for many years. I didn't come clean with myself until I was 26 and well invested in therapy. I came "out" in my personal life at 29 once and for all, which also ended my marriage. (Another post for another day)
I ask myself, with regard to my parents, is my masculinity really on trial for being same gender loving? Is there something deeper to the issue? Of course, I know there is. It has everything to do with unconditional love and approval. Beneath it all, I'm that wanting little boy. I don't feel loved. It explains why so many of my relationships with men (and women) have been so dysfunctional, so unfulfilled. It explains why I constantly put others before myself, because I just want that love, and by giving my all, I hope others will give me the love I've been searching for..
To my parents' defense, they don't know the broader picture of everything I've lived. I doubt very much they're aware of what my brother-in-law did. It's dubious he'd be alive if they did. My stepdad, even though he wasn't our biological father, treated us like his own. Dad was very, VERY protective of us. I've never uttered a word about Emilio's part in my molestation. My mum knows about Stuart, my father's boyfriend, but she doesn't know about my grandfather, Emilio, the babysitter incident, or anybody else. Those are secrets, I hope to keep.
I've had to live with difficult decisions, many made out a necessity for self-preservation. Now, as an adult, I find myself only wanting and desiring a cohesive me. I want to be healed, happy, and living my truth. I want to delight, be glad, and accept who I am in the years I have left. No more time for misery.
OK. So what does that mean? Living my truth? How do I accomplish this and maintain integrity without compromise and self-sacrifice? By being honest with myself and others, I suppose. But for me, the "others" doesn't include my parents. Yet. Worse case scenario is I lose my family. It something I'm not prepared for, but...
God Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Cannot Change
Accept The Things I Can
And The Wisdom To Know The Difference
Accept The Things I Can
And The Wisdom To Know The Difference
By withholding vital information about myself, they're missing a part of me. They've missed the few decent relationships I've had with guys who could've been a part of our family. We don't have a bad family, it's just as effed up as er'rybody else's. To live my truth, I need to grab life by the balls, stand up to fear, and just accept me as I am (I hear Mary J in the background folks).
To be complete, acceptance might come at a cost, but without any reservation, I need to love myself unconditionally. I need to, me, myself. Accept all those things that have placated me over the years; racial integrity, sexual orientation, desirability, intelligence... all that I have to give. Until then, I'll continue to feel incomplete, always having to hide my true self. Have I been hiding in cowardice? Probably.
I've put way too much out there again. So before I bring this looooong post to a close, I thank you, whoever you are, for taking the time to read this. I'd like, if you feel so inspired, if you're an "out" gay person with your family, to feel free to email or comment on any suggestions you might have for me so to achieve resolution to my own situation.
Yo! Especially my fellow black gay/SGL brothers out there! More than a few of you know and understand exactly where I'm comin' from. How did you get through??? Help a brotha out! LOL
This was perhaps my most challenging post to write to date. I started this a little after 9:30 and it's now 3 o'clock!!! Revision, revision! Proofread, proofread! Again, thank you for reading and remember to live your own personal truth, whatever it may be.
May the Creator give you special blessings, now and always.