It is no secret I am queer. And I don’t mean only in sexual orientation. I’m generally opposed to classifications/stratification/castes. This, also, not a secret. Part of my opposition to putting things in boxes or categories is admittedly defensive. I don’t fit in them. They do not work for me. In order to fit in anyone’s proscribed comprehension of one or another label, I have to contort my very being in manners that do not become me. (OMG, that’s such a profound sentence, check my shit out.)
So. I have this awesome mother. I call her The Moth.
(For the record, we weren’t always close. We got to be friends around the time I was 25 or 26 years old.)
She’s built from different things than me. Where I am saltwater and glass, she is ether and moonlights. My spiritual grandmothers are elephants, hers are swarms of butterflies. We still understand each other. She gave me the tools of analysis and criticism. She lives feminism and ferocity, but does not preach. Her example is kindness to everyone. No one is worse or better before she knows them. (Caveat: right-wingers are always deserving of dismissal.) We differ in that she is superstitious and I tend to derive my routines more from logical process engineering. Even with her superstitions (which aren’t of the usual variety, to be sure), she is thoughtful and can debate. Superstitions for her do not enter into things like politics.
When we lived in Austin, she moved into an apartment that was for the older-set. As is The Moth’s fashion, she makes friends everywhere she spends any amount of time. There was another single woman there, divorced, retirement aged, adult children, etc.
Let’s call this new friend Alice. Not that there’s anything incriminating in the following.
Alice and The Moth share a similar political philosophy and if memory serves, Alice had work experience in government, like The Moth. They get along famously. The Moth tells me how she and Alice went to get french fries at Sonic one afternoon, how they took in an art museum another day. The spend free time together. The Moth reports that Alice invited her over to eat dinner and she made steaks and they watched TV together until midnight, as they enjoy the same shows. “Alice got us ice cream and we made sundaes!”
So one day I say to her, “Hey, The Moth? Is Alice your girlfriend?”
The Moth is funny. “Well, she’s a female friend.”
“No, no, The Moth, I mean, are you seeing her? Like love/relationship/dating shit.”
The Moth sounds flustered.
“H,” she begins, drawing a breath, “I’m just…I’m…not gay. Will you accept this about me? I’m straight. It’s ok, it’s who I am. There’s nothing wrong with it!”
We stutter with giggles at the reversal this is for usual comings-out.
The Moth’s open-mindedness is a thing of beauty. Her ease with the existence of alternative sexualities, or body-mods, or weird haircuts, or, “ok, sure, if you want to wear that scarf as a turban, go right ahead,” or her grace in allowing me to make and learn from what choices I may; this has all been tender and instructive. She maintains a sunny outlook without drenching anyone in pollyannaism. I can’t say enough good things about her, or relate how grateful I am for her patience and support.