Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I Wish My Mom Would Come Out of the Closet
When she's not cheering on her new girl crush Rachel Maddow, or slapping her knee and "yeah"-ing to Bill Maher, or ending her 13 hour workday with Chris Matthews, my mom is doing one of three things: calling yours truly to talk about any of the aforementioned TV personalities and trying to make weekend plans with James and me; yelling at my politically unmotivated brother and father; or silently nodding at Kingdom Hall (that's what Jehovah's Witnesses call church) where neither her left-of-center leanings matter and no one gives a hoot about her gay son.
In short, my mom lives in the closet and in the turmoil that such a limited spiritual framework imposes on the soul. On the one hand she's adamant about her faith that the political mechanisms of this world are useless and that God is going to met out justice soon enough (and in the process "fix" her gay son and his partner whom she adores as one of her own); on the other, she HATES the Republicans, "esa Sarah Palin es un demonio" ("That Sarah Palin is a demon") she's wont to say, or, "I can't watch the Fox News Channel because I feel attacked whenever I tune in. They don't like blacks, latinos or gays."
And neither does she. Sometimes.
On her good days - of which there have been many, many more following a near heart attack and stroke (at 53!)that have forced her to take a more measured approach to challenges, whether political or spiritual - my mom can eviscerate the GOP machine, inquire about my gay friends and tell me when my outfits work, don't work and when I should put the cheesecake down. "Those are not Calvin Klein abs," she'll say and thus puts a stop to the conveyor belt of champagne and desserts heading toward my gullet.
But on her bad days, which usually follow big JW gatherings such as district conventions (where tens of thousands of faithful gather for a weekend of speeches on faith), my mom calls me in sobs and says "I wish you were here."
Though my gut instinct is to say, "yeah mami, the cute waiter you have a crush on at Elmo wishes you were here, too," I've learned to either not pick up the phone on those convention weekends or simply say "oh mom, don't worry, I'll go with you soon enough."
And that's the sort of "what elephant in the room? Yo no veo un elephant" relationship that my mother and I have. My best friend lives on the down low, toiling away in Brooklyn during the week and then driving in a panic to Chelsea on the weekends. Mimosas at Le Singe Vert, shopping at Loehmann's, Funny Girl in my newly decorated blue-and-gold apartment -- my weekends belong to my mom and it's here in the pink-lined streets of Chelsea where she, and other gay misfits, have found their own little slice of the Big Apple that accepts her, loves her and doesn't attack her. Unless her shoes and purse don't match in which case I'm the first one to ask "are you sure you're my mother?"
Those of us in the know understand that the coming out process is long, painful and full of challenges. But I'm committed to my mom and I'm certain that soon enough I'll be forced to cheer her on the sidelines as she leads the PFLAG float in the next Gay Pride Parade.