Posts Tagged ‘coming out’

The one I almost didn’t post because I was afraid of backlash.

June 5, 2013

I asked TMD, ‘Hey, what sort of person signs their text message with the word “blessings”?’ She thought similarly to me – Christian or Pagan. We chatted a few more minutes, then moved on with our lives.

She went to work, and I took the kids over to their friend’s house – and my new friend, the one who offered me blessings. I met them a few weeks back at a large home ed gathering and we ended up talking because Coco really hit it off with one of her boys. I liked the kids, I liked the mum, I scored her digits and BAM. Playdate time, baby.

It turns out she is Christian. The sort of Christian that has all these cute amazing crafts hanging up that her kids have made, but they all reference Jesus. Lots of Bibles.

And, you know, that’s fine. Except that super Christian people don’t always love gay people. And I don’t remember if I came out to her when we met.

Now, the whole should I or shouldn’t I coming out debate is not one I often participate in. The decision to not come out is one I very, very rarely take. I can remember once or twice in the last thirteen years I’ve let someone assume I was straight. My long blonde hair, style of dress, etc often means most people assume I am straight. So I am very practiced at coming out, and usually work it pretty early into a conversation because I find it’s better to let people know they are in conversation with a queer bee, otherwise you end up in awkward conversations where they are asking about your husband and you tell them you have a wife and they are horrified they assumed wrongly and apologise and tell you all about their gay friends. Seriously. Better to avoid.

But this lady? We met at a farm. Our kids played together a lot. We looked for baby chicks together. My son smashed his face into her kid’s head on a trampoline and we couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. So I don’t think the gay thing came up.

I try to assume the best of people. There is no reason to think she wouldn’t be okay with me. The amazing Aussie is Christian and she is a staunch defender of civil rights of all shapes and sizes; she is the sort of right on, activist person I think Jesus would have totally dug.

So, should this lady ask, of course I will come out. But today? Today I kept my mouth shut.

Because all the Bible quotes and crafts made me feel a bit uncomfortable. A smidgen awkward. A mite squeamish. I wouldn’t have minded them at all if I knew she knew I was gay and invited me over anyway.

Generally, Christians in Country B are much more progressive than those in Country A. My experience with Christianity, in many flavours, in Country A, has left me with pink scar lines running across me. People have hurled insults at me, made vitriolic comments, told me I was going straight to hell, and much, much worse. My own mother would have nothing to do with me, all in the name of Christianity. A blog reader once told me she liked me even though I was gay, then emailed me a five page letter about my sins. I spent twelve years in a Catholic school that wasn’t shy about their ideas on homosexuality. It’s made me automatically register when people mention they are Christians in a way that I don’t react to Jewish people, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, whatever. And perhaps that is wrong of me, but I also have no firsthand experience with Christian Christians here in Country B.

The Christian toys, art, books, etc that were everywhere, combined with the blessings text, make me assume she is a Christian Christian. I look forward to coming back here and telling you all she is super okay with me and my ‘lifestyle choices’. I hope none of you call me a Christian basher. But it is true that much of my life is spent reading, listening, and observing what Christian people think of homosexuality, and a lot of is a poisonous.

I don’t assume all Christians, or even most Christians, feel this way. I’ve been personally involved in a great Anglican church, various Quaker meetings, and Unitarian chapels. But there is no denying that I have a self protective mode that makes me hyperconcious and uncomfortable….it is also a way I rarely feel anymore, now that I am older and more confident, now that I am surrounded by people of my choosing.

I had a great time today at her house. Our kids still all get along well. I like this woman a lot; she’s warm and gentle with her kids and seems really genuine. So I will be inviting her to our home sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I genuinely hope a real friendship can blossom.

But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about telling her I’m gay.

The Corn Chowder Story, part 3.

May 21, 2010

TMD has been reading this little saga right along with the rest of you, and she said it all seemed so foreign, that she didn’t recognise the characters in this little episode. ‘So much screaming,’ she said, with a grimace.

She’s right. I don’t behave like this anymore; I am more tolerant and amused, more sure of myself, less needing arguments to define myself. That being said, I recognise this girl well. I remember what it was like to feel so angry….and so afraid. So confused.

Parts one and two should really be read before this, the conclusion of one fight with my mother, but not the last. This was the start of creating a family out of friends who understood what I was going through, because they were going through it too. This was the first time in my life I’d felt that way, and so I cherish these chicken flavoured memories of a younger me.

I thank Opposite Gender Soulmate for his vivid memories and his skill with words.


We must have looked like some kind of animals. Existere ripping apart the kitchen to find a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup so she could verify, and perhaps photograph, its contents. J cackling wildly while pulling slimy pieces of chicken out of the pot and holding them up to turn them in the light. He squinted like a jeweler; it was some kind of righteous gold. “Look at the size of this baby!” he’d scream, pushing a wet sliver of meat into our faces. And I was pacing obesely, causing the giant bookshelf that dominated the living room to rock back and forth, its menagerie of books, toys, electronic equipment, and other gimcrack artifacts of college life dangerously on the verge of landslide.

I was shaking my head, going over and over the facts, enumerating points on the tips of my fingers. These points you see, when connected, would create a complete psychological profile of July… July, the mother… July, the control freak… (This is the part where you sit down and hold your breath) July, the homophobe.

“She is a Master Manipulator,” I explained to the other two, who franticly ignored me, “and she must be stopped.” Our motivation, of course, was the gratifying vision of calling July out, making her admit she was wrong, and then Rubbing It In Her Face:

Existere in a buzz cut and camouflage, holding a Ziplock bag so full of wet chicken that it looks like a lumpy, pink pillow; and J, snarling in full Christina Aguilera drag, hip jutting and limp-wristedly waving in the air a three page letter from the President of Campbell’s Soup Company; and me, flanked by the other two, delivering a rousing indictment, a Julia-Sugarbakeresque monologue. “And that, Marjorie, just so you will know, and your children will someday know, is the night the lights went out in Georgia!”

Six months before, not long after I’d met Existere, we sat at the edge of a lonely campfire, a black and unforgiving midnight pushing against our backs. With my arm wrapped around her she talked to me for the first time, in the smallest voice, about her mother. The woman she loved so much, but who—she was afraid—did not love her. Not ever, not really. It was significant, this moment of my life, to know that the fear we walked with, into and out of every day, was so simple, and yet it shook us to say it, to hear it said. Something inside of us made us vulnerable to vicious hatred, and it was something we could never change. And in Existere’s beautiful, glistening eyes that night I saw that her fear was my fear, too.

But in Existere’s face there had been rescue. Because she was so amazingly beautiful, so deserving, and she allowed me to see the same in myself. And so I stood up, for the first time in my life.

And half a year later we were still pushing—against that quiet, empty fear, and against the people in our lives before which we’d be the most vulnerable.

The phone rang. And someone handed it to Existere who was pacing now, in my place. “What?” she answered, pointedly aloof.

A pause. Existere’s eyelids beginning to twitch.

Something said into a telephone a hundred miles away ignited her. The other voice was loud enough I could almost make out what it was saying, and it threw Existere into spits of angry, frightened words.

“You are a bitch.” She accused, in a tone—a volume—that threw me back, and then she waited just long enough so a reply could begin—so she could cut it off.

“You have no concept of respect! Fuck you! Stop being so fucking stupid!”

Existere was crying through her rage, she never stammered, but gasped and choked at god-knows-what expletives and the violent denial her mother was spitting back. And I really did hurt for her. I imagined screaming at my own mother, which I’ve never done, and I realized how much I wanted to right then, to have the freedom to be so expressive. If only my mother would be guilty of such an otherwise overlookable offense, then I could let this anger and fear out. I laughed nervously with J.

“You put Fucking Chicken in corn chowder and fed it to your daughter who you Fucking-Well-Know is a vegetarian. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.” I could tell the frantic repetition was used to block out whatever her mother was saying right then, much better (more grown-up) than fingers in the ears, eyes closed, voice chanting I can’t hear you, over and over again.

“Fucking chicken!” she shouted one last time into an angry dial tone.

July had hung up, and Existere was alone again. Something had come between the two of them, as something often did, and she looked at me with terrified frustration.

And the chicken was the thing, but we almost knew better.

In the years since the smell of corn chowder first became eternally attached in my memory to what I’ve learned was the sound of love fighting for itself, I’ve watched Existere and her mother grow into a strong relationship. I remember being so afraid for her as I watched the splitting open in anger that day, or any of the times since. But I know now that these two women, in so many ways so different, yet irrefutably linked, without the freedom to fight with such fury, would never have found each other.

Postscript: July stubbornly maintains to this day that the chowder had no chicken. And we did do everything short of getting the letter from the president of Campbell’s to prove it to her. I have to think about what conceding to the accusation (the truth) would mean for her: the pride that might be wounded (but probably not); the chance lost to have a fun little spat every now and then around the holiday table (perhaps over a bowl of piping corn chowder), or the abrogation of the sanctimonious authority that is simply allowed to be irrational sometimes. And secretly, I’m mostly glad she won’t budge.

The Corn Chowder Story, part 2.

May 20, 2010

You could consider this a guest post, though I did not ask OGS’s permission to post these. He knows, though, and doesn’t care. Muhahaha!  Anyway, read part one here. This won’t make sense without it.


When I left home at 18 I put two holes in my left ear and one in my right and I became a vegetarian for ten months. It was an assertion of independence, a way for me to imagine I had established control. I was a grown up; I was sure of it. And I lost 30 pounds that summer, effortlessly malnourishing myself with Cheetos and Pizza Hut breadsticks and leaving out all the fatty, fleshy calories that help build strong, heavy bones and muscles.

Existere ended up a vegetarian for a slightly more valid reason: sometimes meat makes her throw-up.

Some women talk about establishing close relationships with other women to such an advanced degree that their physiologies begin to correspond, they menstruate at the same time and can actually feel sympathy pain for the other during physiologically stressful moments like childbirth or a breast reduction. My relationship with Existere, by this point, had advanced to a similar degree, and as I watched her eyes flood with the sour tears of nausea I felt a burble in my own stomach.

She’d dropped the spoon into the bowl of backwashed, rejected corn chowder and spit one last time and with a final nauseated shudder.

“Chicken…” she said quietly, like it was truly unimaginable, staring for a few minutes at the table, trying to make sense of what had occured: honest mistake? unforgivable betrayal? It was unclear to me what would happen next. On one hand, the nearly-full pot was still on the counter and my own nausea was starting to subside; if it truly was chicken that had ended up in this mixture, perhaps the remainder she would bequeath me and then I could eat as much of it as I wanted; I was once again ravenous. On the other hand, this was Existere, who was already scheming something behind her eyes, perhaps to photograph the soup flushing down the toilet, or flying through the window, to send the snapshots to her mother. “Thanks so much for the hearty corn chowder!” the note enclosed with the photographs would say, the word ‘hearty’ would be underlined.

When she stood up, trembling with the anger that was building inside her, I felt rage squinting my own brow into vicarious tension. I imagine this is what gang members feel right before they make good on the “I’ve got your back” promise and beat the teeth out of someone who has a fellow offended. Existere looked right through me and said, with a calm in her voice that reminded me of a kindergarten teacher or a serial killer, “Get me the phone,” and I obeyed.

Later that year, before I moved away from Existere, she called me at my Mom’s house. She asked me when I was getting back to the apartment in order to leave for our job as weekend counselors at a Girl Scout summer camp. When I told her I had decided not to work that weekend, that she would have to go without me, she screamed that if I was going to be such a “promise breaker” that I should not bother coming back to her apartment at all. We had four phone calls that day: twice she hung up on me, and twice her then-girlfriend called to say—”I swear”—Existere was not on the other line and that I could talk about anything I wanted, with perhaps the sound of a handheld taperecorder squeeking in the background.

What happened next amazed me. I watched Existere dial the phone, lick her lips, and smile sweetly. “Hi,” she said in response to what I imagined must have been her mother’s “Hello?”; their familiarity was automatic and a cordial conversation began.

“I was just having some of this corn chowder and I was wondering what all was in it.”

Her mouth puckered into a quiet suspiciousness.

“Mmmm hmmm,” she said, “What else?”

And then more pause until Existere’s eyes suddenly popped open in a precursory a-ha!

“And what do you think cream of chicken soup is made out of, July?”

“What?! You say you’re sure there’s no chicken in the chowder? And that cream of chicken soup contains no chicken?” She was repeating everything her mother said in exagerated enunciation so that I could perhaps later give testimony in front of a jury of July’s peers.

“Well, you know what July?” And then Existere’s rage blossomed once more and she screamed the most abrasive phrase anyone has ever known right into her mother’s heart, punctuating each word with a period:

Fuck. You.

And then she hung up, throwing the phone on the ground, and her hands went into the air as though to ask me “Why is my mother trying to destroy me?”

The next fifteen minutes we spent going over the facts of the situation. There had been chicken in the chowder, we had all seen it. Existere had J (the other roommate) and I touch the muscley fibers floating in her spoon just to be sure. Her mother had admitted to using Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup in the recipe, though she denied that there was any chicken in the product—”It’s just called that,” she had said. Existere was a mostly always vegetarian and her mother was well aware of this. They had even had a conversation in which Existere explained she only wanted the chowder if it was to be meat free.

It was obvious that someone was lying—perhaps, I suggested, in one last attempt to manipulate the goings-on of her daughter who had become a fiercely independent lesbian with a shaved head. Existere nodded her head painfully while crying into my shoulder.

By the time she was ready to make the second phone call, J and I had already pulled out a good quarter cup of the chicken pieces, ruining the entire batch of soup with our grimey fingers, throwing the chicken into a small Ziplock bag that would be frozen and presented later as evidence.

And then the phone rang. We all froze. We knew who was calling, because in our manic rush to build a case against the mother who then stood as a representative for all the mothers who had ever dared to frown upon homosexuality or vegetarianism, three homosexuals we were united, and we’d forgotten that this wasn’t just another mother stretching the skills of manipulation. This was July, the woman who had taught Existere everything she knows, and July had been hung up on.

To be concluded.

The Corn Chowder Story, part 1.

May 19, 2010

So, another three parter written by Opposite Gender Soulmate (OGS) in 2003. This was a term he coined for us shortly after we met – in fact, the first night we met he told me that if he was straight, he would have proposed. This made me feel so cherished and loved and understood and giddy. He was and is a funny, smart, cocky, talented man – the boy I  met caused me to fall into friendship with no qualifications or conditions.

This story about a time when we lived together features me at about age 19 or 20. I don’t think it’s flattering of me, or always literally true, but it is a very honest portrait of who I was at the time, in relation to my mother. My very, very homophobic mother. And of who we were – OGS, me, and our flamboyant roommate J – three scared, but proud, young adults who just happened to be gay.

Please read and enjoy.


chow·der (chou’dar) n. 1. A thick soup containing fish or shellfish, especially clams, and vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, in a milk or tomato base. 2. A soup similar to this seafood dish: corn chowder.

In the winter of 1999 I was on the verge of suicide. It is strangely liberating to admit something like this out loud today, only a few years later, and without the experience of extensive therapy or six months in a psych ward to validate the depth of my depression, or to comfort my readers. The hopeless sleepwalking through the last, bitter-cold days of that dead season I can vividly recall. It was me, who had learned to halt the grinding vitality of anxiety with lethargic exercise; I smothered the choking pain and confusion like a heavy, wet blanket over the mouth and nose. I emerged from near-death in April, without professional help, which is at least superficially disconcerting now because self-help comes without a guarantee against relapse. How can I claim recovery when there are are no prescription bottles in my cabinet and the shoes are still in my closet?

My salvation was a big-breasted lesbian who, the first time I locked eyes with her, looked at me like I was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. And she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And I remember that moment every time someone says “love at first sight” because of how instantly it began, the most valuable friendship I’ve ever known.

And that summer we rejoiced in knowing eachother, in the almost immediate familiarity of each other. And I was saved by the bliss of having found a soulmate.

And in the fall I became her roommate out of the necessity to rebuild my life. Sleeping on her couch, sometimes beside her, working 60 hours a week to recover from two years of debt I had acrued with my eyes closed, hands tied behind my back (she helped me to untie them). And as frightening a time as this was, I had never felt so much at home in myself or with another person; I had never felt so safe.

I was smoking nearly two packs of Marlboros a day then, and I’d spend my me-time sitting on Existere’s slim concrete patio throwing consecutive cigarette butts onto the lawn below while scribling frantically in a diary I have long since ripped to shreds and burned. Our life together became functional very quickly, generally looking out for each other, and involving each other daily in the details, extravagant and shameful, of our whole lives up to that point. We traded clothes and shoes. We watched horrible soap operas and sobbed through made-for-TV movies together. And we shared everything.

Well, almost everything.

Some things were off limits. We did not, for instance, share our bodies intimately. We also did not share the delicious food July would sometimes leave in giant pots in the refrigerator.

July is Existere’s mother. July is a nurse. July shows concern and pride in her children in such a manner that reminds me of the mother bear in Old Yeller who attacks little Arliss.

And one day, while Existere was napping, I sauntered into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator to find such a giant pot, with a small note carefully scripted and posted on the front of it with Scotch tape.

“For Existere only.”

But I could smell the contents of the pot in the refrigerator even with its cover on tight. And it smelled good. And there was a lot of it.

Another notable thing about that fall was the preponderance of things like Chef Boyardee ravioli and Taco Bell bean burritos in my diet. I distinctly remember being excited about corned-beef hash one night. “Home-cooked meal” was something I had almost forgotten about. I suddenly wanted whatever was in this pot, desperately.

And so, as was my habit that fall whenever the mood struck, I skipped down the hall into Existere’s room to wake her up. She’d had a long weekend and was exhausted, but I was lusting after her private stash of home-cooking—and besides, what are soulmates for?

She growled groggily and tried to slap me when I used both hands to forcibly roll her over and out of the bed onto my lap.

“Hey! Wake up!” I yelled while using the thumbs and index fingers of both hands to forcibly pry open her eyelids. I had already removed a bowl from the bowl cupboard and a spoon from the spoon drawer and they were sitting on the counter next to the refrigerator on top of a napkin I had carefully folded into a triangle. She grumbled and strugled with one hand to pull the blankets off the bed so she could sleep there, on the floor. With the other hand she continued to try to slap me.

“What’s in the pot in the refrigerator? Can I have some?”

And she layed still for a moment without saying anything, and just as I could feel her understanding what I had said, she sat up, fully awake.

“You didn’t eat any of it, did you?” She asked, alarmed.

“No.” I said. “But there’s a lot of it, and I thought you might want to share.”

“It’s corn chowder and My Mother put my special medicine in it, so I have to eat it all.” In those days July was only ever referred to as “My Mother” for dramatic effect. (She was referred to as “July” for a different kind of dramatic effect.) “And if ayone else eats it, they will be made sick by my special medicine.”

Existere’s “Special Medicine,” I’ve learned, imbues any consumable substance Existere wants to keep to herself. It allows her to be selfish without being selfish. It’s not my fault My Mother puts the medicine in it. How, exactly, does the girl at McDonalds know to coat Existere’s Chicken McNuggets with the special medicine? I’ve often wondered.

And suddenly, spurred on by my inquiry, Existere herself was hungry for a dose of medicine and squirmed out of the tangle of covers. I followed her into the kitchen like a scolded puppy who has not yet given up on begging. I watched her greedily scoop the yellow porridge-like substance into the bowl I had prepared. Its smell blossomed in my nostrils, sweet and hearty. In the microwave the bowl rotated and the thick liquid bubbled. It was a soup that eats like a meal.

I sat at the table and watched as she spooned the chowder into her mouth and told me about how it was her favorite thing that Her Mother makes and that she was so happy Her Mother had made it for her. “I love it SOOOO much.” She sang emphatically, the soup gurgling a little in her throat. I was resting my chin on my hands, hoping that if she got full, her resolve to keep all the corn chowder to herself would weaken. “And it’s one of the only things that My Mother makes that I can still eat now that I’m a veget…” She was speaking with her mouth full and stopped suddenly. Her head was hanging over the bowl, her mouth was open, and chunky corn chowder was dripping out of it. Her reaction was quiet, astonished. I could hear the wet pre-vomit cluck starting in the back of her throat, and she spit the rest of the food out of her mouth into the bowl as carefully as possible, trying to avoid the sensation of the liquid on her tongue and lips. Ready to perform the Heimlich Maneuver if it would be necessary, I put my hand on her back. Her whole body was trembling.

She spoke, her voice was cold and stoney. “July… put… chicken… in… this.”

July is Existere’s mother. July is the only only other person I’ve ever met who can stand up next to Existere in a shouting match, the only other woman whose blazing fury burns as hot.

…to be continued.