It’s not my fault that I forget there
are were members of my family that didn’t know about my homosexuality. Actually, it’s not that they didn’t know, it’s that they were too young to understand when people use the word “gay” it applied to “Uncle J.”
I refer to two of my nephews. I adore my nephews and nieces and great niece and nephews, but the family decided early on that we would just let them grow up with us without saying, “He’s gay.” My nephews that “didn’t” know are now 13 and 9 years old. They are at the age of “that’s so gay” and kids make fun of each other for being gay, but this isn’t a story about the result of their finding out as much as it is a story of how they found out.
Earlier in the week, my nephews were outside playing. Their parents had gotten them walkie-talkies so they could communicate with the home front and each other. The result is that my sister-in-law can hear many of their conversations with each other. The youngest nephew (let’s call him Hal) paged the older nephew (will call him Cal) to advise Cal that another boy had invited him over to play. Cal responded to Hal’s request with “Tell him I said he can ‘suck my d…'” Of course, their mother (we’ll call her “Bikeresque”) overheard this exchange on her walkie, but didn’t really know how to respond. She called my brother (we’ll call him “the Butthead” because I’m still holding a grudge for him missing my live performance) and advised him of what she had overheard. The Butthead said to pretend she didn’t hear anything and wait until he gets home from work and he will handle the situation.
That night, they were all sitting around the dinner table when my brother turns to Cal and says, “So, I need to clear something up with you. What’s it like to have your d… sucked?” I won’t go into how I feel about this sort of parenting, but when I heard that, I gasped and laughed simultaneously and since I’m not a parent, I’m hardly a parenting expert. Not exactly the direction I would have thought to go with it, mostly because I’d be afraid I would get an answer! Cal turned ghostly pale. My brother continued, “Well, I understand you wanted [the other boy] to suck your d…, are you gay?”
“No.” Cal’s col0r still hadn’t returned.
“Then I don’t understand, you don’t know what it’s like to have that done to you but you told another boy to do it to you and you aren’t gay?”
Cal meekly stated, “No, I’m not gay.”
The Butthead went on, “Well, it’s ok if you are gay. I just feel we would need to know that so we can talk to you about specific health concerns and what that will mean.”
Cal reaffirmed his heterosexuality, “I’m not gay.”
My brother, not one to back off when he’s trying to make a point said, “Well, if you are gay, you know you can always talk to Uncle Jay about it…”
This is the point where the gasps from Bikeresque broke into the conversation. I’d been labeled as “gay” to my nephews forever more. She asked, “You guys do know that Uncle Jay is gay and Christopher is his partner?”
Both Hal and Cal responded… “Noooooo.”
Needless to say, the purpose of the conversation (to make Cal understand that such vulgarity is inappropriate and open to unusual interpretation) was now nearly forgotten. I firmly believe that my nephews have always “known” that Christopher and I are a couple in some form, but never associated us with the word “gay.” I can only imagine what that must be like for them considering the word “gay” is so often used in a negative way.
NOTE: I was not present when my labeling occurred. The quotes above are based upon how the story was relayed to be by Bikeresque and may not be completely accurate quotes. In fact, I’m fairly sure they aren’t, but the substance is the same.
UPDATE: You’ll note the absence of my own feelings regarding the above. Since I was asked, I thought I’d express my opinions. I’m honestly not too worried about them “knowing” I’m gay. Although, I do have those moments when I wonder if they will worry that giving me the big hugs we normally share will mean they are gay. Kids, who knows what they think.