Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Not the Worst Thing in the World

It was much different thirty years ago than it is today when things were more on the ‘hush hush’ if anyone happened to be gay or lesbian. Some called it “a phase” or if it was a female, some would mutter, “Well, she surely can’t get a man, so she decided to be a lesbian.” And that was that. No other explanation was given. It was a “mess up” - a glitch in their life. Of course, you had and still have those who insist that being gay or lesbian has everything to do with being sexually abused as a child. Pure bullshit for a true analysis. As a child, I remember my mom telling her friends the story of her married female friend who lived in the same building she did back in Brooklyn years ago. She left her husband for “the dyke” downstairs who used to come and do her plumbing. (Pun very much intended.) The real kicker is the last words of her story: “She kept going upstairs to fix things, and then befriended her. She must have influenced her somehow.” As though the thought of being a lesbian or having an interest in women never occurred to the wife. I asked, “Well, maybe the wife was gay all along and just kept it a secret for a number of years?” And she’d look at me, shaking her head, “No, no - this woman was pretty. She was feminine and did her hair and nails.” I sat there looking at my manicure, playing with my hair while thinking, “Wow, she must think I’m hideous.” It’s the same old fashioned mindset like, ‘stand behind your man even if and when he cheats’. Eh.

At the age of eight, I remember my mother kind of figuring me out. She would whisper to my grandmother about the possibility of me being a lesbian or “liking girls”. My grandmother said, “Well, it’s not the worst thing in the world.” And even though it had a tinge of acceptance within that sentence, it also had a tinge of slight disgust, or perhaps disappointment to it. I’m not quite sure. But in any event, my mother did accept me after a long battle with trying to get me to see a psychiatrist for my “lesbian condition”, which made me feel less than adequate as a human being - as though I wasn’t equal to anyone else who was heterosexual. That took a slight toll on my psyche and I began to revaluate my self-worth, through the approval of my own mother. It would then trickle into the approval of my own circle of friends. The good thing about that was, I truly realized who my true friends were when I did finally come out. Some never spoke to me again, and one actually said, “Well as long as you don’t hit on me, we’re okay.” I’d give her a look and ask, “What makes you think you’re my type?”

But, in the words of grandma, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I mean, if parents who are so outraged by their kids coming out as gay or lesbian, thank the heavens they aren’t out on the streets doing drugs, killing people or living in some cell in an upstate prison. So yes, I agree, it definitely isn’t the worst thing in the world to all of those old fashioned thinkers.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com