I am in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, typing on the computer, while my mother-in-law cooks dinner and Angie kisses the boys’ little feet. This sentence, I suppose, is what strikes fear in the hearts of the out-of-state Mormons who are flooding the supporters of Proposition 8 with funds–25 million dollars so far, to be exact. Somehow, my having a mother-in-law (cooking dinner) and a father-in-law (out hunting!) and a spouse (female and monitoring two boys opening kitchen cabinets) and two sons (exploring Grandpa and Nana’s house) shakes the very foundations of their marriages. All marriages. Except, I guess, my own.
And it is National Coming Out Day.
When I graduated from my M.F.A. program, Ian McKellen (Sir Ian to you) gave the commencement address. (Is that what it is called? Angie and my mother-in-law and I cannot quite agree.) Anyway, he had come out relatively recently, given his age (this was in the mid-nineties and he’s sixty-nine now. You do the math; this is a blog about writing). And he said, Come out, in every way that you can. And support your gay and lesbian family members so that they can come out. There I was, with my whole New York family–cousins of my father who, like my father, were born in the 1920s–and they were being extolled by a world-famous, brilliant actor to come out and to support me in coming out. It was splendid.
If I was worth my salt as a blogger, I would find and scan the photograph of Sir Ian and me (and my partner at the time) on the steps of the School of the Arts. But I am a writer, so I will just tell you that I wore a blue flowered dress, and Sir Ian and my former partner wore suits, and behind us bricks lead up to the stone steps and huge glass doors, and my lipstick is a bit overly bright red, but I am twenty-five and the world owes me a living.
Well, no. That was my father: when, at twenty-one, he graduated from medical school, he sat back at his commencement ceremony and thought, “Now the world owes me a living.” When I earned my M.F.A. in writing, I had no such illusions. But I will venture to say that the world owes me some civil rights.
Here are a couple of things I want to say to people who oppose my right to marry on the basis that it somehow threatens their own marriages or notion of marriage: if homosexuality cannot be stamped out by death, the threat of death, ostracization, beatings, derision, exclusion, legal and religious persecution, an absence of representation, and so forth, I really don’t think heterosexuality is in grave danger from gay marriage. And if your kid sees my family and learns something new is possible, the life saved may be your kid’s.
Meanwhile, if you are a writer (or a reader or, really, anyone): come out, in any way necessary for you. Be vivid. Be quirky. Be honest. Be strange. Admit that you want to write. Admit that you love this particular book or that particular song. Confess your joy at sitting in the park with someone who makes you laugh. You know that your capacity for love, like mine, extends beyond the bounds of what you’ve been taught or offered, that it is an enormous force that can create sonnets and children and some very awkward voice mail messages. Say so.
Happy Coming Out Day!