I’m so proud and grateful my mom came out, but the little guy in this picture is pretty stoked she didn’t do it right away.
I’m standing in my parents’ garage and my mom tells me she’s gay. Her face is red and she’s laughing, which is what happens when she’s nervous or drunk. It’s obvious she’s both. She’s talking a mile a minute, but I don’t hear a word. “I’m gay!” just keeps repeating in my head.
This can’t be how she planned to tell me. When it’s cold outside, sometimes the garage is where we take the dog to poop. It’s Kansas City, the day after Thanksgiving, so it stinks.
Other words start filtering in, words like, “I wanted to tell you,” and “I’m still your mother,” and “One time I tried cocaine.” It’s a floodgate and she’s rattling off every secret she’s had since grade school.
She says she’s been attracted to girls since she was thirteen, that she fantasizes about women at work.
I feel woozy.
My mom starts crying. “I just can’t keep sleeping in the same bed with him.”
She says she told him the truth years ago, that they’ve been staying together until my sister finishes high school. My parents have been married for a quarter-century and they’re still sleeping in the same bed
I hear my buddies outside the garage yelling for me to get my ass out there. It’s my last night in town. I head back to L.A. in the morning. I’m twenty-two years old, but right now, I feel like a child. Someone starts banging on the garage door.
“So what do you think?” my mom asks.
“About what I just told you?”
“I don’t know… Are you really gay?”
My mom covers her face. “You hate me!”
My father comes in and wants to know what the hell all this racket is. He hits the button and the garage door crungles up. My buddies stop punching each other in the arms at the sight of my father.
“Mr. Szpak,” one of them says.
My mom pulls me to the side and says, “We should keep talking.” She’s trying to whisper, but the booze has removed that particular skill.
My father can tell my mom’s been sharing.
“What did you say to him?” he asks.
“I thought we discussed that you wouldn’t say—“
“You can’t tell me what to say!”
My buddies pull me towards the car. It’s like an undertow, but I don’t fight. I just let them drag me away. My father’s leading my mom towards the house.
“Get your hands off me,” my mom says. She runs over. “Where are you going, Anthony?”
“Strip club,” one of my buddies slurs.
My mom’s eyes widen.
Another friend starts to say it was just a joke, but my mom cuts him off—
“Can I come?”
My father forces a laugh. “All right, let’s go back inside, Kathy.”
“Come on, Anthony, it’ll be fun,” my mom says.
There are moments in every child’s life, which cause parts of the brain to fizzle and burn.
My buddies give my mom a hug and say that’s why they love her. She’s so cool, they tell her.
My father finally corrals my mom. She knows not to push it, because she’s staring into my eyes.
I’m crammed in between two guys who played on our high school football team. Someone hands me a beer as we drive off. I watch my father finally get my mom back inside. The garage door closes.
Hello, lovely people!
For those of you who just saw The Ricki Lake Show, I want to thank you for stopping by. This blog is my little attempt to tell the story of how my mom came out of the closet after 25 years of marriage. Her declaration shook the foundation of our family. It was shocking and difficult to handle at first, but her truth forced us to really look at our family, to remember why we loved each other. I suppose we’d been taking that for granted, slowly drifting apart. So in some ways, my mom coming out actually saved our family.
I’ve reposted a few of the early blog posts to give everyone a sense of what you might find on this site. I hope you enjoy.
Oh, in case any of you are wondering, Ricki Lake is, without question, one of the most beautiful, kind-hearted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I was born and raised in Kansas City, so that’s saying something.
Thank you again for stopping by!
I started writing this blog a few weeks ago, but the actual spark happened August 1, 2012 when it felt like the entire country was lining up to buy chicken sandwiches in a united front against gay marriage.
Look, lately I’ve been writing a lot about butts and buttholes and I’m tired of it, so tonight I’m just going to share what I wrote on Facebook that day.
“My mom came out of the closet a little over ten years ago, and it shook the foundation of me. I had, and have, no problem with homosexuality, but I wasn’t ready to hear the woman who’d been married to my dad for 25 years had been lying about who she really was. Then we talked and hugged and she explained being a lesbian wasn’t really an option in Kansas City during the 70s. Until that moment I didn’t realize how impossible it was for so many people to tell the truth. Not everyone was tied to a fence like Matthew Shepard, but I’m pretty sure that’s what some feared would happen if they did.
But times changed. People evolved. Heck, a few months ago, the President of the United States said he supported gay marriage. Most thought he was a little late to the party, but then the CEO of Chick-fil-A openly admits he spends our money to stop same-sex marriages. Obviously, he has the right to express his opinions. This is America and everyone deserves free speech. But I also have the right to never purchase a sandwich during Chick-fil-A’s six days of operation. I feel bad for the franchise owners who don’t share Dan Cathy’s bigotry, but I cannot, in good conscience, fund a company that wants to dictate who my mother can marry.
Feel free to defriend me. You will not be missed.”
Since then, the company has changed their policy to openly fund anti-gay organizations. It gives me hope that bigotry won’t win this fight, and reminds me that maybe I should spend a little less time writing about buttholes.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/7707996416/”>Elvert Barnes</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
I posses a very unique skill set. I can eradicate all evidence of a Burger King meal. I’m so meticulous I think I missed my calling as a serial killer or “body disposer” for the mob. You’ll find no trace of Whopper, fry, or ketchup pack in my home or car. You won’t even find a rogue grain of salt. I scrub my nails with rubbing alcohol. I triple-bag each wrapper and dump everything a block from my home.
I don’t have OCD. I just don’t want to have to explain to my wife that I broke my diet. She wouldn’t yell or get angry. I just like how proud she’s been of me. I don’t want her to be disappointed. I like seeing her happy, knowing I’m getting healthy. So I cover the truth.
How often we do that? How many times do we lie so others won’t be disappointed? We erase our search history so no one will know what we’re jerking off to. We clam up when someone asks us if we believe in God. It’s why we wax our eyebrows and suck in our gut. We just want to be liked.
But does anyone really know us?
My mother hid her truth until she was forty-five. She played the role of dutiful, heterosexual housewife. She focused on her children. She didn’t want us to be punished for her secret. Kansas City wasn’t exactly progressive. She knew people wouldn’t just judge her; they’d judge us. She feared folks like my aunt might try to damage her reputation in order to rip us from her care.
I know this fear. When I was diagnosed with bipolar II, I didn’t want anyone to find out. I was terrified of being institutionalized.
I kept quiet about my thoughts of suicide. I told the doctors I wasn’t a danger to myself. I didn’t want people to stop trusting me. I didn’t want to limit my options, so I buried the darkness. I told people I had the flu, that I had bad diarrhea so they’d stay away. I needed to keep up the lie.
But it’s exhausting. Maintaining a fake identity chips away at your sanity until finally one day you just say, “Fuck it! I don’t care. This is me. I’m a weirdo.”
That’s what happened to my mom. After years of lying, she finally came clean. It was good and terrifying. She was out, and there was no going back in.
She’s an amazing woman, and her courage inspired me to start this blog.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/evilnick/120239194/”>evilnick</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/funky64/2695650752/”>Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>