I'm blogging from a Holiday Inn on Long Island where I've been ensconsed for the wedding of my college roommate, BJ, and her now-husband Ron. I flew into JFK and discovered that one of my bags went missing, thankfully not the one with my wedding attire. I was not in the wedding party, but showing up in clothing purchased from the Wal-Mart across the street would not be my idea of good fun. The missing bag contained my wedding gift and eventually turned up the following morning. Dude at luggage central was a little perplexed why I wanted it delivered to a rectory, but I've been embedded with priests and priestly family members all weekend. This is a cool group of priests – when we rolled in for the wedding rehearsal, the rectory Cocker Spaniel, Ricky, was hanging out near the sanctuary.
Anyway, the weekend involved lots of trips back and forth between Long Island and the Bronx/Queens. I lost track of how many times. My job was primarily to remember tasks (pick up this, call that person, etc. )and offer words of condolences during minor catastrophes (the wedding rings were locked up at a jewelers; his mother died and he left town — it all worked out thanks to the owner of the liquor store next door — I can't make this up!).
I've had three limo rides (I was a limo virgin) and two of 'em were Hummer limos (also a Hummer virgin). To compensate for the latter, I have kept almost every single recyclable item I've had this weekend and plan to bring home with me to recycle (not an option at the Holiday Inn), including 17 water bottles and two mini Pringles plastic containers. Thankfully, I have the extra tote bag. Did I mention that Ledcat and I put together a Pittsburgh basket as a wedding gift, thanks to the input of A Pleasant Present. Ledcat isn't going to be happy when I toss the bag o'recyclables into the car and I'm pretty sure she's not bringing the Hummer. 🙂
I feel sort of maudlin tonight as I sit in my room waiting for the post-reception reception to start hopping in the bar. The wedding was beautiful and I have had a wonderful time catching up with the family — it is as if no time had passed at all. Some of the family know I'm gay and some don't, but that wasn't a huge deal because I'm like family and it just didn't come up — I wasn't going to do anything to cause a ripple for her day — it was like a “don't ask, don't tell” veil.
Until the reception. Then the dj kept calling couples and lovers out to the table. Ledcat was supposed to come with me, but she stayed home to take care of our girl Mona. I realized even if she were with me, we'd be sitting at the table anyway. Song after song played, slow and fast alike, and I felt disconsolate listening to the words and missing the woman I love, knowing even if she were there I would have to keep quiet. Then it was time to toss the bouquet. At first, I demurred because I'm not single. Everyone kept urging me on and while the brother who knew the truth gave me a sympathetic glance, I had to get up or risk being either a poor sport or ripping the “don't ask, don't tell” veil away. I ended up catching a piece of the bouquet that fell apart as it was tossed. That's symbolic, huh?
I consider myself pretty out in most circumstances, but I think we all have moments when we have to deny this pretty important part of our identities for what seems a good reason. I thought my reason was noble — to avoid darkening this important day for my good friend (who, of course, knows and invited Ledcat to the wedding) — so why do I feel so cruddy? Because I lied to people who love me and, even though I think they really know the truth, I took the coward's way out.
Someone recently asked me what it means to be openly gay. I think the answer is about authenticity. Bruce Kraus, for example, never hid his sexual orientation, but didn't necessarily make a point to accentuate it. He is single and childless, so his website had no references to his sexual orientation vis a vis his family (no pictures with partner and child, etc). That's authentic. If voters asked, he answered honestly. If it didn't come up, it wasn't really relevant, was it? I'm sure many people just assumed he was straight, but it is not his responsibility to correct that assumption unless it has relevancy.
I don't often hide my orientation, but I sometimes have to be discreet. There would be no need for me to tell the groom's great-uncle that I'm a dyke, even if Ledcat were with me. But I kept this very important part of my life a secret from people that do matter to me because I'm afraid of their reaction. That's not easy to admit. I thought I was past this. I'm almost glad Ledcat couldn't make it because I can't imagine how awful I would feel if I had to deny her amongst people that are like family. To have to sit back and let all the rest of the lovers be recognized and venerated.
So what does it mean to be openly gay? I suspect very few people beyond Rosie O'Donnell know because society is heteronormative — if you look straight, people assume you are straight. I only correct them when it is necessary (or when I feeling ornery and want to watch that look settle in their eyes). And sometimes I don't correct them even when I should. Because I'm still afraid.
I miss Ledcat tonight because, suppressed or not, I would still like to share these moments. And because she loved me enough to stay home to take care of our cancer-stricken dog, I know that she would understand all this angst and love me anyway.
And I'm looking forward to my own wedding. Someday.