Friday, 10 August 2012

My mother's attitude to my bisexuality

Catch up on other things I've said about my mother in:

Yesterday was a doozy.

It started when I was looking up churches. I'm flying to Virginia in a few days, and I wanted to research beforehand where I would go to church on the Sunday that I'm out there. Obviously it's a big issue for me when finding a church to know whether they are gay-friendly, and while that was on my mind, it got me thinking, and the thought-path led me to text my dad.

"Just had a worrying thought. Do you know if the family in Virginia are liberal or conservative?"

When he got home, we sat in the living room, and he basically said it was best not to even bring it up, and use ambiguous language (eg when asked if I have a boyfriend) to avoid having to deal with a bad reaction, of which there was a chance.

It normally doesn't bother me when meeting new people and I never hide anything, but family is different, especially when I've never met them before and I'm flying 4000 miles to accept their very generous hospitality. If they do have a problem with LGBT, I'm only there for 12 days and I don't want to cause a family rift, or something equally dramatic, nor have to excuse myself from their home and come back early.

But I fought with him about it, saying that if felt like lying by omission, and not true to myself.

Anyway, besides that situation, the conversation turned into my longed-for confrontation of my dad about my impressions of my mother's attitude (see other blog post). He was shocked at what I thought, and promised me to talk to her. [I also learnt that it is not general knowledge throughout the family, because my dad sees as purely my business, and not somewhere to declare. I suppose I understand that, but isn't it usual that when someone comes out to their parents, relatives are made aware of it? I surprised my parents haven't wanted to discuss it with their siblings, my aunts and uncles.]

So later that day my mother sits me down and says she was also shocked when my father revealed all to her. She had felt she was a great example of an accepting parent, because ultimately she does not care who I choose to be with, as long as they make me happy. We discussed it, and really her silence on the matter and her moments of being odd when girls were mentioned is all down to it being new; she doesn't know a thing about the LGBT world, and so she is only very slowly learning how to be mother to a bisexual.

Well, you can imagine my relief! My mother is perfectly fine with my sexuality, and that is so much of a weight off my shoulders. Great big cheers all round.

It still feels weird to talk to my mother about being bi, but then it feels weird to discuss anything to do with my love life, so I'm not worried about that. The only difference is, when we talk about LGBT things, our relationship roles reverse, because I'm the one in the know, wiser about the whole thing, than she is, when she's had two whole decades as a mother being the one with the upper hand.

I'm sure there's a lot of psychoanalysis that could be done, lots of deep set things about our relationship, but I don't care. I am much happier knowing what my mother thinks, and that it's positive.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

L, G, B, T, C, D...

Last night, I was at dinner in a large group. We had just completed the show at the end of a drama summer camp for kids, a week of biscuits, tantrums and out of tune singing. The director, MD, technician, assistant director, and one of the band were there, as well as a hetero couple I didn't know. I picked up that the director knew them, for the man taught at the same school she did.

Well, a friend of mine had popped in to the theatre to say hi earlier during the dress rehearsal, because he had gone to that school, and been involved in the drama group whilst he was at that age, so the director and MD had been excited to see him as well. He came up in conversation near the end of the meal, and both teachers proclaimed he had to be gay.

I of course told them he wasn't, and they scoffed at me. I reiterated that he's my best friend, and the man laughed it off with a "I taught him for five years, of course he's gay". I retorted that I had been his best friend for 7 years, so I should know. His wife then mumbled something about not being able to tell, so I told them "I'm a part of the LGBT community, so I have a great sense for who's gay or not".

She came out with a classic "LGB what?"

"Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender," I replied.

"Cats, dogs, who knows," she continued.

I could help it. "I'm sorry, but that's quite offensive," I said.

She maintained that it wasn't, then claimed that it was harmless because it was just a joke. I could have got very righteous then, gone off on one at her, but I just said "I'm not going to hold it against you personally, just know that it is offensive." She mumbled something else about how I'd understand the joke when I was older, and as much as I wanted to scream at her for her second count of prejudice, I stayed silent.

Even telling you about it still makes my blood boil. A horribly classic case of a woman stuck in her ways of thinking and not considering that she might have said something wrong, choosing instead to judge that I was arguing with her purely because I am a young person, clearly ignorant of the world.

What do you think? Was I right to take offence at her comment about animals? Was I being over-sensitive and not appreciating off-hand humour?

I know people makes jokes about sensitive subjects all the time; I'm sure I do too on occasion. But I felt that it was not okay to joke about LGBT and bestiality, when it is still a prevalent belief that outside of jokes, there is a link between them in reality. That's what I feel we're fighting against. That's why I write a blog to connect with other LGBT, and I try with this and other things to spread knowledge and understanding of LGBT.

In a world where it's still okay to joke that being LGBT leads to bestiality, people still think that's actually true, and will treat us accordingly, with no regard for who we beyond a label that to them immediately identifies us as disgusting by default. I know it's a tired and over-used analogy, but it is no longer okay to joke about ethnic minorities and black people as though they are linked to bestiality, and nowadays, the majority know that there is no link.

The joke was a symptom of a prejudice, and though maybe not horribly harmful, it still should be pointed out as wrong, to make it clear that we will not tolerate ignorance as an excuse for beliefs about us that are not true.