From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bruce Garrett)
Subject: Re: Update on XX
Date: 24 May 1995 19:03:52 -0400
email@example.com (Richard Jasper) writes...
RJ> I had an online talk request from Bill today.
For what it's worth to you Richard, here's something from someone
who had a similar experience. I'll call mine Kevin.
I've related parts of this story elsewhere, but in essence, I dated
a young man who's parents were friends of my parents, and whose father I
had briefly worked for. This was a fundamentalist Baptist household, and
the ties to them were the common church that my mother attended, and which
I myself left when I was 14. Our families had often visited each other,
and I worked for his father as an architectural model maker for a few
years, before striking out on my own. The man was one of those horrible
monster bosses who's temper could roast a thanksgiving turkey. He would
throw regular tantrums at his wife, who did part time clerical work in the
front office, peppered with such cheap vulgarity that they would shock the
rest of the staff. My mother once alluded to a talk he had with the women,
that lead her to believe that in their own home things sometimes went
beyond the point of words. So Kevin's family life was not a completely
unknown quantity to me.
When Kevin left the military he took a cross country trip and when
he came back home he looked me up. I had suspected for years the guy was
gay and that day as we chatted he made it known to me. As time passed we
became close and after a while we began to date. He always struck me as a
nice guy with a warm heart like his mothers and wholly unlike his father's.
Alone with me, he made me happy, and our times together became more and
more intimate. I had some initial reservations regarding the age
difference between us...I was about ten years older, he being in his mid
twenties and I in my mid thirties...but after a while it seemed a trivial
thing. I was aware of his being pressured by his family about his sexual
orientation...but I'd made a decision early on to stay out of his own
family matters. All he would tell me during that time was that his family
knew, and they had all assured him that they loved him regardless. Having
spent a measure of my own life in that milieu, and knowing the family as I
did, I had a good idea what was going on at home that he wasn't talking
I did my best to give him a counter balance to the propaganda I
knew was coming from the direction of home. I gave him things to read, I
introduced him to Gay friends, but mostly I just tried to be a visible
example against the scarecrows his church created of homosexual life and
consciousness. But family ties are strong...even when they are burning you
to ashes. Ask anyone whose ever counselled battered spouses. Ask anyone
who's ever tried to get children to testify against physically abusive
parents. It's a bond that runs deeply in the weave of our identities,
and you tug at someone else's at your peril. I'd rather play volley ball
on a nitroglycerin beach then take a seat in someone else's family
dispute. It's like wading into a dog fight to save your own dog from the
neighbor's dog; your dog is just as likely to bite you in the process as
the neighbor's dog is.
I was never sure later just what happened precisely...he'd told me
he was trying to get into a culinary school, his long term plans being to
open a restaurant someday. He stopped seeing me for a time and I thought
that it was a school related thing. After about a couple weeks he came to
see me to tell me that our relationship was over, that he had prayed and
had some doubts about his own sexual orientation and that he now felt
himself to be "more of a bisexual" then Gay.
I could see it all coming at that point, but what can you do? You
care about someone, then above all else you have let them be free to make
their own life decisions. I could see with clarity all the leashes he'd
allowed others to put on him, I could see how they were jerking him around,
but painful as it was to watch, he had to free himself from it...I couldn't
do it for him, without adding my own chain to the collar; and then I'd be
just another hand at the end of just another chain jerking him around.
It burned me up...and I'll admit that it made me angry at him too.
It's a natural enough reaction when a relationship you've been putting your
own emotional capital into suddenly turns into a pile of junk bonds. Part
of me was saying silently, "ok pal, go make your bed and then go lay in
it...I'll watch..." When he told me about a month later that he'd met a
lady at church that he was going to marry I wish someone could have snapped
a picture of my face so I can see what I look like when I can't decide
whether to laugh and enjoy the spectacle or get angry and cause a scene. I
held out my hand and shook his, like we were at a train station and I'd
just handed him his suitcase for a trip to some quiet private hell, and I
wished him a pleasant journey.
What you have to accept is that we can't take our lover's falls for
them, even though when they are wounded, we bleed too. You can do a lot
for someone you love, you can give a lot out of yourself to somebody you
love, but nobody can take another person's falls for them. If you try,
they'll either resent it, and rightfully, or they'll become a little more
dependent on someone else to make decisions for them, and less able to cope
with their own life, and that isn't what a lover does for their beloved.
I know how this must burn inside of you. For what it's worth my
own experience with Kevin still burns inside of me. I still get royally
angry thinking about it some nights. He had a good heart, a kind and
decent heart, and it's despicable how his own family, instead of loving
him, loved only the strawman they made of him, how instead of letting him
live the life he could have made for himself, they shepherded him into a
bitter entombment for their own sake, not his. This isn't what people do
to someone they love. But that's the rub.
He may need to know what he's hearing about homosexuals and
homosexuality isn't true, but I'd say he needs even more to know that love
does not have to be possessive and cannibalizing. As much as it hurts, if
before anything else You can be someone in his life that let's him choose
his own road, knowing that what's ahead may cause him pain, knowing that
his pain is going bear a cost to you as well, knowing even that he may
choose a path that takes him away from you, then you've given him something
his own folks apparently don't have it in them to give, something that's
priceless and rare: a door into another's heart with no locks on it.
That's friendship. That's love.
Some day, when he's listening to yet another forehead throbbing
ignoramus foam at the mouth about how homosexuality is about sex and not
about love, he might remember it.
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