The Tendency to ignore the rainbow elephant in the room
By nomas616 on January 21, 2014
I came out to my motherat the age of 24 over a phone conversation. She lives in Colombia and I in New York. Everyone advised me against it given that she is extremely religious but I, of course, did not listen. I wanted to be honest and be able to be myself. Bad idea. My mother got deeply depressed and to this date refuses to talk about it. She feels defeated and failed, as if my gaynness came from something she did wrong while raising me. And I can name a thousand things she did wrong but I doubt any of them led to gayness. I was born this way.
She told my father, he also refused to talk about it for a while. My mother's theory is that I ran away from Jesus and starting hanging out with homosexuals and the "tendency" is apparently contagious. My father went asking my sisters around if the ever saw the "tendency" while I was growing up. When I traveled to Colombia, both my parents gave me separate talks about how I never showed "tendencies" and how did I end up with a woman. Not once did anyone say, lesbian, homosexual, gay; the most open thing my mother said, about someone else, not me, was "She does not like boys".
In other instances, and mostly with older people, I have heard homosexuality referred to as "the tendency". I have to mention though that all of these instances have been among Hispanics. My girlfriend's dad, who is Cuban, also gave us a talk about how life is hard when you have the "tendency". Several times when I have come out to people they have mentioned they know this girl or that girl who also has the tendency. The tone is usually neutral. It sounds like they are talking about a disease but they are trying, really trying to keep up with my openness. I cannot help but wonder, what is it about naming things that they are so afraid of?
I have a theory. Words have power. Once you acknowledge something and name it for what it is you are basically accepting its existence. You are rendering it true. I think that many people's refusal to call others gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, trans, or whatever sexual minotiry they identify as comes with the intention of not recognizing it as real although they know it's very much real. It's a dichototmy. A part of them knows that this is an undeniable truth that their family member/friend has this identity, the other refuses to acknowledge it as such and calls it a tendency to isolate it from the rerst of the person. See, an identity encompasses who you are, a tendency is this small part of a person.
I think, that is where the problem is. People do not understand the concept of identity as a conjuction of things. Yes I am gay, but I am also a woman, I am Latina as much as I am American and I am Christian and a nerd. All those elements compile my identity not just one or the other. The belief that you can be only one thing and the assumption that being this one thing (gay or whatever it may be) means a set of traits or a lifesytle prevents acceptance. A person is made of so many parts that judging their entire being for ONE element of their identity is trying to obscure the sun with your thumb.
As Walt Whitman puts it in his Song of Myself ,"I am large, I contain multitudes" and so is everyone else. Taking steps towards acceptance sometimes, unfortunately, means having to educate others about what our identity as LGBTQA means. And how it is WHO we are, AMONG million of other parts of who we are.
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