unFather’s Day

(or Why I Hate the Hallmark Holidays)

You may be wondering why the divergence into motherhood.

I wondered that too, as I looked at the stories and themes that I wanted to commit to writing, instead of just let swirl around in my head.

For me, motherhood and my coming out process are intractably linked.  Becoming a mother made me face, head-on, all that I had buried and repressed after I came out.

It was one thing for my parents to treat me badly.  It was less tolerable for them to treat me and my wife badly.  And it was completely unacceptable for them to treat my children badly, or to fail to acknowledge us as a legitimate family, or to see my marriage as “real,” or to belittle or demean me in front of my kids.  It was a whole new ballgame.

Some of my parents’ behaviors are conscious.  Many are unconscious and just the product of societal and religious prejudices.  Either way, it’s toxic.

And so I find days like today, those Hallmark holidays in our calendar, particularly hard to endure.

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The unEthicist

(or How the Ethicist Got It Wrong)

For as long as we’ve subscribed to the New York Times, I’ve always enjoyed reading the Ethicist column on Saturday mornings.  Perhaps, I now realize, I didn’t enjoy the actual column as much as I enjoyed the insight of then-Ethicist Chuck Klosterman.  Since I first started reading, my beloved column has undergone a transformation, first becoming a short-lived podcast and now in the hands of Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at N.Y.U.

This past Saturday, when I finally had a chance to sit down and peruse the day’s edition, I first turned to the column in the magazine, as I usually do.  Sometimes it’s the only column I get to read, uninterrupted.  The first letter was from “Name Withheld,” a gay man, who asked “How do I explain to my Evangelical Relatives why I avoid family functions?”  I delved into the Ethicist’s response with enthusiasm, thinking that perhaps this was my answer: I could simply rip out this column, letter and answer in all, and send it to my parents.  I was hopeful that the Ethicist would be able to explain exactly why I felt it so hard to attend family functions, and why it was not selfish, but rather self-preserving, that I distance myself from them and their toxicity.

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The Worst Day of My Life

(or How I Lost My Family)

If I’m going to let you into my garden, I guess I should tell you why I had to close it off in the first place.

It wasn’t always this way.  I used to have a lot to say.  In fact, once upon a time, I talked so much and so loudly that my parents thought it was funny (not to mention shaming) to call me the “Mouth of the South.”

That label, in and of itself, probably shut me up.  And in time, I started to realize that I was different from my family.  I share an uncanny physical resemblance to my family of origin, but that’s where the similarities and connections end.

So at some point I just stopped talking.  No one was listening anyways.  No one understood me.

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