In our family, Easter is the time for breaking unsettling news to my parents. Divorce, illness, you name it, we save it for Easter. This has less to do with Lenten self-examination, than the fact that we haven’t seen one another since Christmas and there are some announcements best done face-to-face. My son’s engagement to another man was one of those.
William grew up in a time when homosexuality was beginning to be commonplace in daily life. One of his friends in elementary school had two mummies, and this same school celebrated ‘Coming Out Day’ when teachers and students were encouraged to do just that. I’m not sure any student took advantage, being mostly pre-pubescent as they were, but on at least one occasion a teacher stepped forward. My son told me she had cried. “Why do you think?” I asked. “Happiness, maybe,” he ventured. Maybe. He kept his own cards close to his chest. It wasn’t even until his first year of college that he came out to his best friend from childhood. Within hours, this friend ran to their boss at the Yacht Club and lied that William was smoking pot. Shame on the Yacht Club for not questioning the underlying motives of a misguided teenager, and pox upon the board member who later tried to use William’s sexuality as blackmail. By coming out just a little, William lost his best friend and his job.
He continued to keep his cards from me and my husband, but we’re pretty good at reading the tea leaves. As a toddler, William wore his older sisters’ dresses and was obsessed with Barbie, so it didn’t take a research psychologist to guess that something was brewing. In his teens, there was the occasional off-hand hint, but he never used the word “gay.” Some of that stemmed from the fact that he seems to be of a generation that prefers not to identify. If anything, he called himself “open,” a word used to separate love from gender. Gay, open, whatever, at the end of his junior year of college, he announced he was marrying Luke. The shock was not so much the choice, as the age. He was only twenty-two.