When I was young, my cousin Tiki started dating this guy Marc. I loved him instantly. He was a really great guy. When they broke up, I was quite sad, because frankly, I liked him a lot more than most of the people who were in my family! Much to my surprise, they not only got back together a few months later, but eventually ended up getting married! I have always considered Marc the best thing that happened to our clan.
A few years ago, Marc ended up being the second on my dad's side of the family to find out I was gay. While he was shocked, it almost seemed to make him love me more . . . which only made me love him more.
You see, my dad's side of the family is conservative. Very conservative. In different ways, really. Three of the siblings (including my dad) are more or less Evangelical. The other (and eldest) is a strict Seventh Day Adventist. Needless to say, there have always been religious tensions in the family (especially considering the 2 younger siblings weren't really all that Evangelical traditionally), and this has brought no end of drama to family functions - not to mention the drama that arises simply from personality variances.
This comparatively quiet storm of personality and religious differences crescendoed to full-scale war a few years ago over who was to take care of Granny when her health started to deteriorate. To keep a long story short, let's just say that we've only had 2 large family gatherings in the past 6 or 7 years.
Any close followers of this blog know what has personally transpired in my life the past 6 or 7 years. So yes, you've guessed correctly that I haven't exactly felt safe to share my gay tale with one and all. Through the course of divulgence and grapevine, all of the cousins found out that I was gay, and that I was in a relationship. Not many of them were invited to the wedding - and there's apparently been some contention that that side of the family was largely uninvited, even though they'll in the same breath admit that they wouldn't go if they were invited!
Whether they knew or not has never been much of a concern to me. Except for Granny. She's the one person I wanted to tell, but never knew if it was worth rocking her little world.
Yesterday was Granny's 91st birthday, and her eldest sister (92) along with other relatives from the South drove up for the occasion. Suddenly, the idea was for the entire family to show up for a surprise party. And this made Darren a little nervous - because it would be the first time that they had to face GAY Darren, and his partner to boot!
I didn't even know the relatives from the South! I've seen them maybe twice in the entirety of my life. But 2 amazing things transpired. First, the night before the party, my dad told everyone (including Granny) that I was gay - which is amazing considering he's been a bit bashful about this. Of course, everyone already knew, but I was proud that he was finally able to say it. Second, my family was actually civil and decent towards us, and warm to J! Marc, not surprisingly, was the warmest of all. He congratulated us, and made sure J knew he was welcome in the family. The Southern relatives were just as wonderful. They invited us down to their respective places in the South, and assured us they were quite excited to tour us around. They even told my Dad after we left how much they loved J. That's so gratifying.
But I'm still pissed at my dastardly brother. It was hard seeing him - as he never said a word about skipping our wedding. It was hard keeping the bitterness in check. I managed though. And my aunt was slightly cold, as was one uncle. But for the most part, they were all OK.
I'm just not sure whether it's a sweet blessing or a shameful tragedy that Marc (an extension to the family) and the Southern relatives (whom I barely know) are THE ONES I LIKE MORE in my family, rather than the ones I grew up with. But such is the life for outcasts and pariah like us modern-day leper-gays . . .