Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Importance of Being Fake

Me and my petty problems. This is how hard my life gets, or not hard, I should say: I let a Chinese woman upset me in the supermarket parking lot. At least, I think she was Chinese. She was definitely an immigrant, her English spoken with an FOB accent.

I was already annoyed with her. She had been behind me in the checkout line, and she had started loading her groceries on the conveyor belt before I had finished unloading my own cart.

Out in the parking lot, I should have just glanced politely at her flyer. I should have just smiled and thanked her for inviting me to her church. But no, passive-aggressive me - mostly passive - still wishes that I had more of a backbone, so I try to practice standing up for myself when I can.

"Oh, no thank you. I'm gay."

"You can be fixed," she countered. "Jesus can fix you."

"No, you're wrong. I disagree." These are two specific phrases that I have been trying to employ more in any conflict.

"You have to repent! My daughter was fixed, and you can be fixed, too!" (her daughter was gay? "was?") [is, probably, still] Her silent husband stood a few feet away, by their car.

"You're wrong!" I repeated as I got into my own car, slamming the door.

I wish I didn't let a situation like this make me so upset. I considered that she might have been feeling none too good about our conversation, either, maybe even worse than me. She was someone very much like my mother, with good intentions and just trying to do God's work, trying to do what she thought she was supposed to do.

It would have been better, easier, to just fake it and play the game, to just smile, nod politely, and pretend that I would actually consider visiting her church.

I am still learning when it's important to be fake and when it isn't.

I am still struggling with how honest to be with my mother. She gave me another Christian DVD for Christmas. She asked me if I had heard of the speaker (no). In his DVD, she told me, he speaks about how he was healed of "sexual brokenness." My mother thought that both Domestic Partner and I could benefit from the DVD.

We're sexually broken?

I'm used to receiving Christian self-help books and materials from my mother, so I try not to get too upset about it whenever I receive something new from her. During the post-Christmas clearing of clutter, I threw the DVD into the garbage.

"Did you watch the DVD yet?" she asked me this past weekend.

I lied. "No, I haven't gotten around to it. I added it to the pile of other DVD's I've been trying to get to, most of them still in shrink wrap."

Passive-aggressive, right? It makes me angry. I'd really like to tell her that her view of me as "broken" is damaging. I have been her son for almost 46 years. As long as she keeps thinking that there is still something about me that needs fixing, I will never feel accepted by her.

I always think about asking her if she would be willing to consider the other side(s) of the issue and read any books or materials from PFLAG.

How long do I nurse these decades-old hurt feelings? How do I let go of these grudges and still maintain a relationship with my mother?

My mother is almost 70. I may have to fake it with her for only another two decades or so, maybe less.


Steve Bailey said...

Man... some people suck! And are so wrong.... Im not gay but if I was there I would have flipped out on her..... you are stronger than I am!

Peter Varvel said...

Thanks, Steve! I appreciate the Straight Ally support.
. . . uh, did you mean flip out on my Mom, or on the lady in the parking lot?

Cheryl said...

Good for you for not being fake. It's not just a matter of you listening to your mom's side and your mom listening to yours (though you're generous to present it that way). Being gay isn't a side we've chosen or a stance we've taken on an issue. It's who we are, and I wish the media would realize that every time they invite some H8er on to talk about "the other side."

Peter Varvel said...

Cheryl, yes. Still, in 2012, we all could use some more of "walking a mile" in each other's shoes.