Like Mother, (Not) Like Daughter
How does a ripped-jeans-wearing, makeup-hating tomboy come out to her beauty queen of a mom?
By Stephanie Fairyington
Fairyington today with a friend at a gay bar, and her mom on a date with a high-school boyfriend.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stephanie Fairyington
Me: "I didnt want to hurt you."
Her: "What about Curtis? You told me you were infatuated with him."
Me: "Her name was actually Lisa Curtis."
Her: "And Andrew?"
Me: "Ann Pangan."
Her: "What about children ... my grandchildren?"
Me: "Mom, Im not infertile."
Her: "Do you have a girlfriend?"
Her: "Whats her name?"
A moment of silence.
Mom: "Well ... whats she like?"
It was as simple as that. I had expected anger, judgment, estrangement everything but acceptance.
Soon after, I met my mom and her new husband for a vacation in Branson, Missouri, a town pulsing with Republican family values. I was a bit anxious about seeing her there, fearing shed absorb the cultural climate around her and level me with disapproval. But she didnt. She made a couple of off-color jokes about my being gay like affectionately referring to me as her lesbianite (a riff on sodomite) and managed to break the ice.
Ever since then, our relationship has grown. Im no longer evading questions about my personal life. I tell her about my girl troubles in the same way Id tell her about my boy troubles if I were straight. She can see that having a queer daughter isnt so different after all. Of course, that doesnt stop her from occasionally grabbing a billowy blouse off the rack and saying, "I think youd look great in this." Although now shell follow up with, "But I know its not you."
Stephanie Fairyington is a research editor and freelance journalist who has written on gender and sexuality for ELLE, The New York Observer, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, Dissent, Utne Reader, Advocate, and OUT.