I was a little nervous — okay, terrified –about my trip to West By-God Texas this past weekend. Any time you go with your significant other “back home” for the first time to meet his/her family, it’s bound to be unnerving, but for a gay man going as the first openly-acknowledged boyfriend to a Hispanic family’s Texas home, it’s scary as hell!
To make matters worse, Sal’s homecoming was turning into a Big Family Event. His dozen nieces and uncles were all coming in to see him, his sisters and their kids would all be there, and there was even the possibility of a parade down Main Street. (Okay, I made that last part up, but STILL!)
And for added complexity, not all of the family knew that Sal was gay. We’d talked about it, and out of respect for Sal’s mother we agreed not to make an issue of it. She has only recently come to accept her only son as a gay man, but in the year and a half that I’ve known her she’s had a tremendous journey.
Admittedly, it’s a sensitive subject for any old-fashioned Hispanic family out there who hasn’t been confronted by a gay family member they could be proud of.
And boy, are they proud of him. In his family home there are photos of him EVERYWHERE — childhood photos, school portraits, graduations, the works. His many relatives all cooed over him as they arrived, gushing about how proud they are of him, and consistently admonishing him to keep going.
And one by one, many of them found their own quiet way to let him know that they don’t give a damn who he falls in love with, as long as he’s happy and is doing everything he can to make a good life for himself.
It sounds sappy, but it was SO heartwarming to see. We’d already steeled ourselves to be “roommates” for the weekend, and to carefully dodge questions about why he hadn’t settled down with a nice girl and popped out a few grandkids, but it was all unnecessary. It seemed like everyone knew, or at least suspected, and it just wasn’t a big deal.
And his family was SO VERY welcoming to me. His mom has apparently warmed up to me in the time we’ve spent together (though she still has a special place in her heart for Michael in NYC and “Blondie” — aka Adam — in Charlotte) She makes a point of telling us both how much she loves and misses US, which is incredible to me.
His sisters? Wonderful ladies. His nephews and nieces? The older ones were cool to hang out with, and the younger ones were adorable and sweet. I didn’t really get to know the uncles and aunts, though they were all very kind to me.
It was a GREAT weekend, and all of my worrying was for naught. I had a lovely visit, and his immediate family is already demanding to know when we’ll be back and figuring out when they can come visit Charlotte. Believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to the idea of going back out next year some time.
Who’da thunk it?