i’ve had the talk with my sons joseph and eastman many times. i think because they were in musical theater when they were younger and it seemed like the right thing to do:
me: if you told me you were gay, i’d be disappointed for a day or so. because i’d be thinking how your life is going to different from what i expected. but then i’d get over it.
joseph (or eastman): okay mom.
me: so are you? are you gay?
joseph (or eastman): mom, would you just stop it. no.
i didn’t really put them at ease, did i? rusty and i talked yesterday about how he’s had that same talk with his triplets, who are now all adults. one is openly gay, one is a heterosexual with an entire season of “the bachelor” ups and downs in his life, and one is a daughter who has married and given rusty two great treasures: grandchildren.
i would have thought that the conversation would be easier for rusty who is a comfortably out man. i was wrong. but it was neat to find out we have common ground in how we approach our children, wanting to make them feel loved and appreciated in whatever life they lead.
when i was growing up in the sixties, we had rotary phones that were attached to the wall. the television had four channels, plus pbs which nobody watched. the news came on twice an evening and the anchors read from a stack of papers laid out in front of them–once, fahey flynn from chicago was sent to berlin to cover an event for our local chicago news and he reported that there were a lot of “foreign” cars in europe.
and being gay? not on the radar. i didn’t even understand what homosexuality was until i was in college and the village people came out with “macho man”. . . a friend explained why they wore the costumes. i was somewhat baffled. and from then on my gaydar has operated in such a manner that i assume all men are gay until they tell me otherwise.
also in the sixties, the world was divided between communist countries and “free” countries. communist countries were generally evil and their leaders hated americans and wanted to kill us all. every single day, there was the prospect that somebody in moscow would fire off a nuclear missile at the united states for no good reason at all. and we’d all be dead in a war that was widely understood to only last about twenty minutes.
rusty and i first met when eastman was performing in a play at a theater rusty lead. rusty and his partner live way outside the city and rusty got burnt out by the commute and the day to day struggles of keeping a theater financially afloat. he now owns a home design retail establishment. he has been following my facebook odyssey from the beginning and has been cheering me on. he is very delighted to be mr. f2fb friend #173.
rusty’s parents wanted the best for rusty–but they had to struggle against the pressures of cuba under castro. cuba was and still is a communist country. although rusty first told me this story eight years ago, it has always made an impression on me.
i’m also grateful that i was able to (with no trouble on my part) give my boys the gift of american citizenship. okay, okay, they have to put up with my embarrassing questions and my odd quirks, but they at least have that.