Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your Little Secret

From Melissa Ethridge's Your Little Secret:

I could, I won't, I can't, I don't,
You make it hard, talk down my guard,
My senses soaked, my ego's choked,
I will not lie, I will not lie.

Of course, Melissa's talking about cheating on your partner with another person. But when I heard myself screaming those words at my partner, my heart, my lover, my best friend last night as I cried so hard I couldn't see her, I knew we had a problem. Put that on the back burner.

Get a really big stew pot. This is big and bad. Heck, there's so many things wrong with what I have just said. My partner is trans. It should read "he" and increasingly does. Cameron's living this wretchedly double life caught between who he is and what he is, facing dysmorphia every time he looks in the mirror. But we were fighting about his parents, who see him by his very feminine first name. And who see me as the best friend because, on top of everything else he's not out to his parents.

Keep stirring. I'm invited to every wedding, every funeral, every family reunion. I receive the same gifts as Cameron every Christmas and birthday except I get the uber-fem version. Yes, that's a technical term. But as Cam pointed out, there's the side of the family that I have never met. Her dad's side of the family would not welcome me. I don't receive the invitations. And when her dad passes away, I would be seated not up front beside my partner, but somewhere alone in the back.

(Side note, when my oldest son got married, he broke his four year silence to invite me to the wedding. We were seated on the bride's side of the family behind her parents. The minister didn't know who I was and was shocked to learn I was the birth mother. Indeed, there was a lovely point of the ceremony where the mothers went up together and lit candles to join the two families. It was his step-mother lighting that candle. I wanted to crawl under the pew. Some wounds never heal. We weren't included in the wedding pictures. We finally got one, by request, at the reception, in a side hall. They didn't purchase it and I don't have a copy.)

Last summer at the family reunion Cam's cousin asked how long we had been together with her father standing just out of hearing range. He was just trying to be polite and strike up a conversation with the much older dyke because he's a nice person, likes us, and wanted me to feel welcome. Had her father heard, we'd have been out of the closet. Put the stew pot on the back burner. It may require more ingredients. I don't know yet.

Grab a sauce pan. Let's thicken this mess up a little. Looks like we're having stew. In the sauce pan goes the agreement we would not address our couplehood with her parents because they are in their 80's, her dad is insanely bigoted, and she fears rocking the boat. Cam and her/his father are close. They talk every night at 8 when the dog gets walked and I'm tucked into bed listening to my favorite blogtalk radio program before falling asleep for the night. We've agreed a hundred times in a thousand different ways it doesn't matter. So why does it matter now? Keep stirring and move to a low temperature. Let it thicken awhile.

Grab another pot and let's get ready to stir.

Facebook. That lovely social media. Mom got a touchpad, which Cam's brother-in-law is setting up for her. He set up her facebook, unfriended us on his own facebook so mom can't get to our walls, and I immediately show up as a friend suggestion. Mom and I still have other people in common.

When I show up as a friend suggestion, there's the picture of Cam and me taken as a couple taken for the church directory a couple of years ago. The same picture that hangs on the wall of the brother-in-law's house when he made himself a copy from mom and dad's original. Complicated much?

Somehow I think it looks different on facebook. Especially when I say I'm "married". Especially with my feminist/politically active/GLBT posts all over the place. Especially with my right to marry statements, pictures of flowers from my partner, etc. And not only do I stand to out Cameron as my "gay" partner, but I also stand to out him as "trans". This sucks. Yeah, I know I can block mom. But what reason, authentic and true to myself, can I give? She wants facebook so she can be closer to family. And I am family. Not sure of my role, but I'm family.

So yes, I'm madly changing security settings, etc. And I threatened to change our picture today. But for me the issue is even more complicated. It's ethical. It's identity. It's about who I am. I don't want to change the picture. I moved to SC so I would not have to hide. I've already lost my oldest son to the excuse that I'm gay and he doesn't approve. He's about to have my third grandchild. Yet another grandchild to grow up without me. I paid my fricking dues to be authentic. I pay everyday when I think about Beauty and see how much she looks like me at that age. I see those pictures on Facebook because my daughter-in-law allows it. My son has me blocked.

Let's add some more ingredients to a skillet and put this on the front burner. When I outed myself ten years ago, a very wise woman said to me, "Claiming to be lesbian is not about sexuality or orientation. It is a political statement. Think about what it means to you. And live it." I did.

For me it's a political statement. I "look" very "straight" until seen out in public with my "gay accessory." If I am to challenge and participate in change then it is my job to live authentically, to hold hands in public when appropriate, to talk about my partner the same way I would a husband, to honor our relationship. At work Cam's paintings hang on my wall and talk very openly about him as an artist. I must have two conversations a week with different people about being gay, trans, other.

Of course, if Cam's straight and male, we aren't a gay couple at all. Let that twist my identity awhile...and Goddess know what his parents would say to that. It is neat solution to being gay, isn't it? And that also seems to fall short of the truth.

And if we are going to be political, let me rant a moment. My partner can barely walk, needs surgery, and is in school so he can pull his financial weight in this relationship. But for the last eight years it's been me to hold a steady job and have money for food, gas, and trailer payment. I used to be able to claim him as a dependent. Until the IRS changed the tax law this year and I can't claim anyone older than me unless they draw disability. So I got $2000 less back on my refund this year. Two cannot live as cheaply as one. That was the money that was supposed to repair the sagging, soft floor in the bathroom. Maybe put cheap flooring in the kitchen. We've lived on subfloors for the last five years. They are not meant to be swept and mopped, but what cha' gonna do? Of course, I live in a state that will NEVER allow gay marriage.

Stir in the fact that when Cameron got the first hip replacement it was with my insurance, my sleeping at the hospital and my care. "Loophole in the policy" my ass. Anyone with two brain cells knows the only "loophole" for insurance is partner's benefits. Which I lost when the company laid us off and closed the doors.

I reread this mess and I'm not even sure what the point is. I'm angry, I'm hurt, I'm frustrated. I don't want to be the cause of Cam loosing his parents. I don't want him to choose. I don't think a choice should be necessary. My partner is agony, and I'm truthfully not a lot of help. But this bitter recipe aside, I love him. He is my heart. And I will be here no matter what. Nevertheless, I just want to grab all those pots and throw it out. It is bitter recipe and has no good answer.


  1. Is it possible to set up a second FB page (under a slightly different name -- e.g. using a middle name as well as your first or something like that) so that problematic relatives can join THAT site instead of the openly gay/trans one? Then just keep the "mainstream" site free of anything controversial. I'm not on FB myself so I'm not sure if that will throw people off the trail or not.

  2. Hello. I do not know if we have ever met. I have been gone a while but decided to check in because I am starting to hate facebook.

    My son hasn't talked to me in 3 years. His reason is because I said something on facebook about his being rude.

    I will try to make this short, but it won't be. lol I had breast cancer and both breast cut off down to the very bone chest wall. I was healing from that when I went to Minnesota in October to care for my new, one and only grandchild. Travis my son didn't want to put her in day care. I lived in his cold dark basement for four of the coldest months in Minnesota. Still healing from several very big surgeries but that is what mom's do. Mom's sacrafice for their damn seflish children.

    His wife was a mean cold uncaring bitch. My grand-daughter looks like me. I see photos from my sisters facebook. It hurts that she won't ever hear my stories.

    But I decided it's his loss. I love him, he is my son. But I am done. Done. And I am happy. I decided to be happy.

    Be happy. You are so bright, smart, funny and beautiful. I wish this for you. Be happy. Choose to be happy. I will be back.

  3. Blessed be, McRaven. I am delighted that you shared your story and I honor your journey. Sounds like several steps of our journey have been taken on the same path.

    Yesterday was a hard day, and your upbeat reminder that happiness is a chose was spot on. Thank you.