These past few weeks have been, if anything, even more difficult than the months preceding them. Not more difficult in terms of time commitments, necessarily, but more difficult emotionally.
This past weekend the PGF and I spent at my parents house in Las Vegas, to see them and also to attend a friend’s 30th birthday celebration. Which brought into full relief the fact that my own 30th birthday is only a month away. And with that reality comes again the reality that I am still not fully comfortable being out to my parents, specifically my mother. And this crushes me.
Why am I still so afraid of being out to my mom? I’ve been out since 13. My partner of 7 years and my mother get along really well. My mom has seen me leave the house dressed in a shirt and tie and tagging along with two other butches and our respective femmes. My mother has bought me men’s jeans and shirts and coat and shoes. She has washed and folded my boxer-briefs. Once she even walked in on one of my (cough, cough) accoutrements d’amour drying on the bathroom counter. She KNOWS I’m gay. She KNOWS, even if she doesn’t say the word, that I’m butch. I mean, hell, she pulled out pictures of me in preschool this past weekend, and there I was sporting a waffle-weave thermal under a red plaid flannel shirt, my hair in a defiant pony-tail and my green cords ripped at the knees. How gay can I get?
So why, when at their house this past weekend, was I too scared to put on my shirt, vest, and tie inside the house? I made my partner stand outside on the driveway in the freezing cold while I decided which button-down went best with my blazer/vest/tie combo. I stood outside in the freezing cold and swapped shirts twice, and tied my tie in the rear-view mirror. All because I didn’t want my mom to see me. After the event, I changed in the car again.
Maybe it’s because my femmier girlfriend was there, wearing a cocktail dress and the new black patent heels my mother had just bought her as a gift for finishing her MFA. My gift (for simply surviving into adulthood, I guess) was a pair of the manliest lady-boots I could find. And I’m still not sure about those.
It always breaks my heart when she pulls a blouse off a rack in the women’s department, usually in some color that would make my eyes stand out like seafoam green or sky blue, usually also in some frilly material. She looks at me with such hope. I always dutifully take it to the dressing room and try it on, always coming up with some sort of excuse for why it didn’t fit or it itched or the sleeves were too short. Sometimes I let her see me in it, most often not. I always feel a little like crying after one of these exchanges – like I’m letting her down. Of course, there are the times when she’s noticed me fingering a lovely striped button-down in the men’s section and gladly whisked it off to buy for me, but never with the same smile she gets when she finds a more feminine blouse or jacket or pair of (ugh) slacks.
You’d think I’d grow out of it. You’d think I’d be able to truly be myself around her, wear the clothes I want, and explain my choices clearly. After nearly seventeen years of being out, why is it still such a struggle? My disappointment in myself for letting her down is sometimes too much to bear. And so I change in the driveway. I wear my blazer out of the house, and leave the men’s shirts hanging in the back seat. I appease her by trying things on. I don’t bring my men’s underwear to her house anymore, in case she folds my laundry.
My partner and I talk about having some sort of commitment ceremony (in lieu of California’s disappointing gay marriage laws). I would want to wear a rockin’ suit. But could I in front of my mom? If I allow myself to admit it, this is a big reason why my lady and I are on the “engaged forever” route instead. Sigh. Some days it seems like it will never get easier.