Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ashes to ashes

It’s October. We’re back from the funeral, and we even managed to squeeze in a couple of days in Bruges before heading back to Blighty. Now college has begun in earnest and I’m back into studying, attending a fairly punishing schedule of classes, and thinking about my dissertation – whilst also continuing my never ending diet of course.

For Fella and I work is pretty hectic, and both of us are trying to find new jobs. Sadly his mother’s condition continues to gently deteriorate so in some ways Fella and I are living like the early days of our relationship, with him spending a few days with her and a few days with me.

What does this add up to? Well, gentle reader, a whole heap of stress. And what is the best cure for stress?

I’ll tell you what it isn’t – family.

I’ve generally been quite pleased with how well my family has reacted to my sexuality in the years since I came out to them. Something that definitely was not on the approved list when I was growing up is, if not embraced, politely accepted. It took some getting used to for some people, but I’ve been quite lucky. They have taken it better than some people’s family, yes indeed.

Nevertheless, and this may be a German thing more than anything else, one thing that has always struck me is a certain backwardness in social attitudes, or a lack of understanding. I mean, it may be my fault for accepting the acceptance without trying to educate or evolve my family.

I don’t want to proselytise about my sexuality and how normal-yet-fabulous it is; and my family are conservative enough about sex (whilst apparently indulging in a ridiculous amount mind) that I was an awful lot older than I should have been when I found out what “balls drop” meant.

Instead what I did when I came out was convince the key players – my mother especially – that my sexuality is irrelevant to my masculinity. Good in the sense that their stereotyped images of homosexuals weren’t true; but bad in the sense that “straight acting” makes being gay somehow OK…

“Straight acting.” I can pretend well enough to be a straight man that hardly anyone can tell… so that’s alright then, right? It’s wrong because I unwittingly participate in the unspoken conspiracy to elevate heterosexual masculinity above all other things.

Oh yes we do… that’s why, I think, a lot of gay fantasy goes into pulling a straight guy; and why women are less likely to forgive a guy who has strayed with another guy – whilst men are twice as likely to forgive a girl whose played away with another girl.

Anyway, the stress of it all got to me a bit and eventually I got tired-and-emotional with it all and lost patience with this “so… which one is the man, and which one the woman?” and the “so will you have a hen do, or a stag do?” and even the “it is going to be, like, two grooms or two brides?”.

Ultimately, without giving a blow by blow account of the Words had, I ultimately suggested that people didn’t really know me perhaps as well as they could, and if they wanted to know anything – rather than assuming – they could perhaps ask?

Well. Certainly I need to mend some fences with my mother, and an uncle, aunt and cousin of mine and I are not quite on speaking terms any more.

You win some, you lose some. I’m not sure yet which side of the line this whole sorry episode falls. But I was there with my family when it mattered; and I’m glad to be home.

1 comment:

Antony said...

Hi Mike,

I'm sorry to hear that you have been having a difficult and stressful time.

I find it interesting that straight people tend to try and conceptualise gay relationships with questions like "whose the man in the relationship?" They expect to be treated like the amazing unique individuals they are, yet expect us to sit (and like) in a box. I usually turn the questions back round on them. Whose the "man" in your relationship ha ha certainly gets them thinking.

Your emotional disagreement with your family members will be sorted as time passes and when your both ready through communicating. Indeed it might make you all closer as they realise that your first and foremost a human being who can struggle with life like anybody else.

Take care my friend,

A x