I'm Coming Out!

"My heroes have always been cowboys. . ." - Willie Nelson

"We're not gay! Not that there's anything wrong with that." - Jerry Seinfeld

I've never seen "Brokeback Mountain." When I think cowboys, I think John Wayne. If John Wayne and Gabby Hayes ever locked lips, well, that's their business, not mine.

Back in the day, they used to paddle kids in school. I was on the receiving end of Mrs. Oliver's disciplinary tool when I called a cute boy I liked "queer." Even in sixth grade, I understood the complexities of the double entendre and tried to talk my way out of it. (I meant he was strange! Really, I did!) But in the end, I took my licks, signed my name to the paddle, faced my mother later that night, and moved on.

I don't think I grasped the concept of what "being gay" really meant until I was older. A brief crush on the guy who played Danny Zuko to my Patty Simcox in our high school production of "Grease" ended badly. It was at the homecoming dance when I discovered that, not only was he just not into me, he wasn't into chicks at all! Perhaps I should feel flattered that he used our date to come out, like I ruined him for other girls or something. At least he told me he liked my dress.

Talk about times a' changin'. My daughter has a friend. And my daughter's friend has a girlfriend. Not a girl-friend. A "girlfriend." She holds hands with her in public and everything!

I feel as though I am wading through a mine field of political correctness, human compassion, mature understanding and maternal protectiveness.

I worried and thought and worried some more until I finally just came out and said it to my daughter, "She's gay, isn't she?"

"No, mom, I think she's confused. . .I don't know. . . maybe."

"Does her mom know?"

"No, I don't think so. . ."

"Don't you think someone should tell her mom what's going on?"

"I think SHE should, but she says her mom never talks to her."

"That's sad. Um. . . has she ever put a move on you???"

"MOM! Gross, no!"

Well, there it is - I guess. And I still don't know how I feel about all of it. Surely there are other parents out there dealing with these same issues, freaking out when they see their child wearing something "rainbow," worrying about someone trying to "convert" their child, afraid that maybe there's something their child is afraid to say to them.

I guess the lesson here is that you have to talk to your kids honestly. And you have to listen to them. Sometimes the things they have to tell you are not the things you may want to hear.

Still, it is worse to leave them adrift in a sea of confusion to spare yourself a wave of reality. . .. . .even if it leaves you feeling a little queer - not that there's anything wrong with that!

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