Despite a fairly conservative past, my mom has recently become somewhat of an activist in the LGBT community. Her sister’s son came out as gay, and my mom and her sister sort of teamed up in efforts to put an end to bullying he was facing at school. She also befriended the gay couple that moved in across the street from us, and got involved with some fundraising for marriage equality.
She was one of the first people that I told Jay was bi. To my surprise, she said, “You know its really hard for bisexual people, because they can face opposition from mainstream society, and also from the gay community.” My mind was blown. I mean, I expected my mom to be supportive, but I didn’t expect her to know about the issues of the bi community. I didn’t even know that until Jay told me; Originally, I just assumed that bi people were pretty much like gay people, at least when it came to societal acceptance. #straightignorance. I had no idea being bi opens a whole other barrel of monkeys.
My mom also supports this center that provides housing for teens that have been kicked out of their homes after coming out as LGBT. One thing she does regularly is donate clothes, because apparently clothing is one of the biggest needs. I have two brothers who are stylish enough to buy nice clothing, and spoiled enough to get rid of it after a few uses because it doesn’t appeal to them anymore, or they realized they never really liked it in the first place. According to her, the residents had a ‘heyday’ when she dropped off a box of Drew’s barely worn designer jeans. I came home one weekend to help her pack up another round of boxes to donate.
“Look at this,” she muttered, sorting through the pile of clothes on Drew’s bed. “He is so spoiled. I’m done. I’m not getting him anything else.”
“What about these?” I asked. There was another piled of clothes stacked in the corner of the room.
“No, those are his clothes. He’s keeping those. But that is the reason he says he needs more clothes. It’s because he never washes them. He just piles them up in here or hides them in the laundry room and says he doesn’t have any clothes.”
I folded a polo shirt and stacked it in the donation box. I lifted the next one.
“This one still has a tag on it.” I said, holding it up.
“Oh, lots of them still have tags on. He says they don’t fit him. Psh,” she huffed. “That’s just not true. I bought him those two months ago. But it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t have to wear them, but either way, he’s not getting anymore.”
I spotted some garment bags stacked on Drew’s desk chair. I went over to investigate. The top one was from Neimans. I opened it up and found a sport coat.
“Mom, you’re giving this away??” T-shirts and Jeans were one thing, but this was something she had actually splurged on, since Drew needed it for school. She thought of it as an investment since he would be able to wear it again and again, and would always need a sport coat for dressy occasions.
She turned to look at me. “Oh… yeah. That one’s not his fault. He really did outgrow it. We got it two years ago, and the sleeves are way too short on him now. I hate to give it away, but it’s not his fault he grew… Hey, what size is Jay?”
Jay is by no means an impoverished LGBT teen; his mommy and daddy love him. He is, however, a guy who might like a new wool sport coat.
Truth be told, I didn’t know what size Jay was (worst girlfriend ever, I know). I held it up and examined it.
“I think it’ll be too small on Jay. He has really broad shoulders.” I said.
“No, I think it’ll fit. Drew has really broad shoulders too. He just looks skinny because he’s so tall. I bet it’ll fit Jay. Drew just has those really long arms. ”
I texted Jay, ‘What size jacket are you’. I don’t remember what he said, but it was a size different than the size of the jacket.
“Sorry,” I said. “Looks like it’s a no go.”
My mom sighed. “Well, some lucky guy at the shelter is gonna hit the jackpot today.” She put the sport coat back in the garment bag and laid it flat on the bed. “Do you have anything you want to get rid of? They have girls there too.
I thought it over. I did have some things I was meaning to get rid of, but it didn’t seem like the right kind of stuff. Party dresses that I considered too short now that I had graduated from college; Prada espadrilles that despite being on sale, were so horrendously uncomfortable, I’d sooner put them in a trash compactor than wear them…
It’s not that I think lesbians (or bi girls) don’t like to dress up; I’m sure many do. But homeless teens living in a shelter were probably looking for more practical clothing.
I told her I had some workout pants that I didn’t wear anymore, and I would go grab them when we were done.
“What about shoes? They really need shoes,” she asked.
I wear my flats until they literally fall apart off my feet. The only shoes that I might part with before their natural lives are exhausted would be heels that I’d grown to hate.
“All I have are a bunch of stupid heels.” I said.
“No, no, bring them,” she said excitedly. “They have a couple of… what’s the right word? Boys who like to dress like girls? And your feet are really big. It’s so hard to find women’s shoes that are big enough, but this will be perfect.”
My first thought was, ‘Yeah, thanks a lot mom.’ But on the other hand, she’s right; my feet are freakishly big. My brother (the one with the long arms) is 6’3” and his feet are only slightly bigger than mine. That should really say something.
As I mentioned, my mom was the first person I told that I was dating a bisexual guy. I don’t know why I told her, exactly. I guess it would have seemed odd if I never mentioned it and she found out later some how. She would probably wonder why I didn’t bring it up, given her interest in LGBT rights.
I didn’t tell my dad about Jay’s sexuality. He would not have had a problem with it, necessarily, he probably would just have wondered, “Why the heck are you telling me this?” He would have considered it information he didn’t need to know.
But my mom totally understood.
Jay actually seemed worried about the fact that I told her. In contrast, I was worried that if I didn’t tell anyone in my family, Jay might think I was ashamed of his sexuality, and trying to hide it (so this is what I get for trying to do the right thing)… Anyway, I asked Jay why he was worried, and if I was supposed to keep things like this a secret.
“No, it’s not a secret…” He told me. “But I think it can be a red flag, especially for people in our parents generation. And you told me that your mom judges people.”
“Yeah!” I said. “But not about stuff like this! She only judges people who wear clothes that are too tight, or smoke cigarettes, or don’t know proper table etiquette…”
Jay didn’t seemed convinced. “Well, you know her better than I do,” he said. I wasn’t too worried about it; eventually he will see that he has nothing to worry about.
This conversation got me thinking; I realized that a lot of people in our parents’ generation aren’t cool with bisexuality. So it’s pretty awesome that my mom is so understanding. I’m not sure how she ended up like this but… Yay mom!