In June, 2010, I was in New York for Pride, like I am just about every year. The parade was over and I was in my hotel room, sprawled on the bed, resting for a bit before the evening’s festivities began. As is the custom in my family, I called my mum to check in with her, let her know where I was going, and to say good night since I knew I’d be late getting back. We got to talking about the day.
Mum asked me about the parade, and whether I’d marched. Yes, I said, I’d marched. But won’t people think you’re like that (yes, “like that”) if you march with them?, she asked. I said, no, people won’t think that, and explained the concept of allies to her. Besides, I said, what do I care what people think? Quickly, I veered off on a tangent. Guess what, Mum? Guess who I saw today? I don’t know, she said; tell me. I saw R, can you believe it? R is an old family friend. He’s known me for over 30 years and was like a big brother to me. When our fathers had a falling out, we lost touch. There was a pause.
There was some clearing of the throat. Oh, really, Mum asked, and how is he? It’s been so many years, did he recognise you? And there, for a brief moment, I thought I’d managed to move the conversation right over the rocky bits. Then, Is he gay? Yes, he is. Oh. Another pause, a longer one. And then, hesitantly, Are you?