Welcome!

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!

Skeptically Yours Podcast

Hello, lovely people!

I’ll be on Skeptically Yours at 2PM PST!  I’ll be talking about the blog, the boy who tried to get me to lick his penis when I was seven, and the horrifying Super Bowl bet my wife and I make every year.

The following folks will be in the studio:

Andy Andrist - 
@andyandrist

Chris Castles - @chris_castles

Ken August - 
@weeklywrap

AND
me!
Anthony Szpak - www.mygaymom.com
@mygaymom

WATCH & CHAT HERE:

The Strip Club at JCPenny

When I was little my mom had to take me into the dressing room with her at the mall.  I couldn’t be trusted on my own.  I broke things, knocked over mannequins.  I wasn’t destructive by nature; I was clumsy.  My feet were growing at a disturbingly disproportionate rate to the rest of me.  I toppled into objects.  I hurt myself frequently.  My mom had no choice but to bring me with her to try on blouses.  I hated it.  There were pins all over the carpet.  I’d get stuck, bleed, and cry.  Mom would bribe me by saying, “If you be good, we’ll go to the toy store after this.”

I’d pout and mope on the ground.  Sometimes I’d spot a fellow prisoner under the partition – a little kid trapped with her naked mother.   A few of the boys tried to sneak peeks of my topless mom.

Over time, I did the same to theirs.  It was fascinating and completely inappropriate.  I saw big boobs and long boobs, droopy bellies and jiggly butts.  I discovered a world of panties – dirty ones and see-through ones; the kind that grannies wear; others with rips or tiny little hearts.

I no longer cared about the toy store.  I started suggesting outfits my mom should try on.  I needed to return to the strip club in the back of JCPenny, where I’d take my seat, lean over, and gaze at the delightful nipples.  A few women caught me.  One smiled.  Another shrieked.  Mom just shook her head and tried to hurry, often ending up with ill-fitting dresses because her son was a pervert.

But what I supposed to do?

I now wonder if my mom was jealous that I got to do all the peeking?

It also makes me realize how impossible it must be for parents to raise a child while tiptoeing around sexuality.  How do you moms and dads do it?

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So Gay

When my mom came out, my sister and I were using “so gay” a lot.  It was tail end of the 90s and it was fairly common, at least around Kansas City.  My sister and I weren’t as freewheeling with it as a Smurf uses “smurf,” but we had no problem chucking it at anything we thought stupid or lame.

It wasn’t until one day I noticed my mom crying.  I don’t remember the full context, but I know we were at the mall and my sister or I had just called something “so gay.”  It could’ve been someone’s pants, a movie poster, or a new restaurant in the food court.  Honestly, we used it so often I didn’t even hear the word “gay.”  But my mom did, and she said, “Will you two please stop using that?”

What?  Gay?” my sister said.  “Gay, gay, soooooo gay?”

My sister wasn’t handling my mother’s declaration well, and it pissed her off that my mom wanted to police her vocabulary.  My sister started screaming how it doesn’t mean “faggot,” which only made everyone in the mall take notice.  My sister said that it was just a way of saying something “sucks,” and that just because my mom decided to tell everyone she likes women didn’t give her the right to dictate what other people could and could not say.

I took my sister’s side and defended her dumb logic.  Eventually, my mom backed down.  She was embarrassed and hurt.  I felt awful.   I knew she wasn’t trying to control us.  She was just tired of hearing “gay” used that way.  I can’t imagine how many derogatory comments and bad gay jokes she’d endured over the years, fake laughing and smiling to keep her cover.

Still, even to this day, I don’t think “so gay” is that offensive.  I think it’s lazy, and I think plopping “so” in there makes a person sound like an idiot.

But I understand some are offended, so I’ve stopped using it.  “Gay” by itself isn’t derogatory.  Even with the addition of “so,” it’s not really that bad, but it’s still using a word that defines a group of people in a negative light.  It’s diminishing.  I mean, if you see something that isn’t very tall, you don’t say, “That’s so Chinese.”  Or maybe you do.

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Sex Party – Part 1

A few years ago my wife and I had to go to Texas for a wedding.  My wife really wanted to wear the dress she’d worn on our honeymoon, and she challenged me to squeeze into my old suit.  We had two weeks to lose ten pounds.  My wife suggested the lemonade diet, which means drinking lemon juice and maple syrup, then shitting your brains out.  It’s disgusting, but we achieved our goal.

After the wedding, we figured we’d strut around a little before we went back to stuffing our faces.  Jess thought we should have a threesome.  She didn’t have anyone in mind and I was too hungry and lightheaded to start some extensive search, so I went online and saw an ad for a “swingers meet and greet” at a hotel in L.A.  We’d never done anything like this and we figured at the very least we’d get a good story, so we put on our fancy duds and headed downtown.

The hotel had a Moroccan theme with purple pillows on the floor and silk drapes hanging from the ceiling.  We were instructed to the ballroom, where we found a group of middle-aged weirdos gyrating on the dance floor.  Everyone seemed shiny and bleached.  There were guys in Ed Hardy t-shirts, and a lot of the women had visibly pierced nipples.

A small Asian man handed me a gift bag.  There were condoms, a dildo, and flyers for more events.  Off to the side, I spotted a buffet table of mini tacos.  The DJ was playing AC/DC.

Jess and I tried not to laugh as we took in the dry humping.

Within a few minutes I’d seen enough and said we should leave.

“Let’s at least get a drink,” she said.  “We drove all the way down here.”

I asked her to come with me to the bar, but she said she was fine watching the weirdos.  Reluctantly, I walked off feeling like an asshole for leaving my wife.  A woman standing by herself in this place was like chum in the water.  I quickened my pace and ordered two vodka sodas.  I noticed a shy couple standing against the wall.  They looked normal and out of place.

I brought the drinks over to Jess and she subtly pointed to a guy who had his balls out.

The shy couple began walking towards us.  There was nowhere for us to go.  We shared an awkward hello and I asked if they’d seen the guy and his testicles.  They said yes and asked if we’d seen the pregnant woman.  Thankfully, we had not.

The couple was in their 30’s.  The guy said they were from Pasadena, and like us, they’d never been to one of these things.  The woman talked about her two kids.  My wife asked to see a picture.  The woman pulled out her phone and show us one their family at Disneyland.

“They’re adorable,” Jess said.

The DJ got on the mic.  “Ladies and gentlemen, the upstairs is now available.  Feel free to take your drinks, but check your inhibitions on the first floor.”

“Upstairs?” Jess asked.

“Yeah, there’s a whole other party up there,” the guy said.

This did seem a little tame compared to what I’d imagined, even with the dude and his balls.  It reminded me of a bar in Kansas called Touché.  My parents used to go there when they were married.

The couple asked Jess and I if we wanted to go upstairs.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said.  “We really should get back home.  We have a dog.”

“No, we don’t,” Jess said.  This was technically true.  We did not have a dog at the time, but I didn’t understand why she was throwing me under the bus.  She said, “Let’s go up.  I want to see.”

“Yeah, alright.”  I followed them to the elevator and gave my wife a dirty look.

On the drive here Jess and I had talked about what we were willing to do, about boundaries.  We’d had threesomes with girls, but we’d never done anything with a guy or a couple.  I suddenly felt sick.  It wasn’t just the thought of Jess being with another guy; it was the fact they’d just shown us pictures of their kids at Disneyland.  I imagined the little tykes at home with a babysitter thinking their mom and dad were at a movie.

Jess and I squeeze into the elevator with two more couples, who had to be their 60’s.  The women were wearing plastic beads.  I prayed they weren’t going to show us their boobs.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened.  A fat, naked guy was standing in the hallway eating a piece of cake.

I pulled Jess to the side.  “I really don’t feel comfortable.”

“Okay, we can go.  I just wanted to see what was up here.”

“I want to see, too.  I just…I don’t want to do anything, okay?”

“I don’t either.  We’ll go after these drinks, okay?”

“Yeah…alright.” It was, after all, my idea to come here, and honestly, I was curious to see what oddities lurked beyond the naked man and his cake.

We passed an open door on the left.  A woman in pleather was on the balcony blowing an old, hairy guy.  He kept waving to people down on the sidewalk.

The couple from Pasadena asked if we were hungry.

“No, I’m, uh, okay,” I said.

The guy offered his hand.  “I’m sorry, I’m Brian.”

“Hi…Brian.  I’m Anthony.  This is Jess.”

“I’m Claire,” Brian’s wife said.

We all shook hands and entered another room.  People were standing around a sad woman lying on a table.  Her body was covered with sushi and fruit.  Two men were bent over eating things off her boobs and shaved va-jang.

I quickly walked out and wandered into a room with two dominatrixes spanking an Asian man.  He looked over and I realized it was the guy who’d given us the gift bag.  I didn’t know what to do, so I just gave him a thumbs up.  He seemed happy.

At the end of the hall there was a suite with a big empty bed.  Jess had worn her most painful boots and couldn’t wait to sit down.

“Oh, that feels nice,” she said.

Brian looked around the room.  He suddenly seemed really nervous. “You, uh, uh, don’t want to sit there.”

“No?” Jess said.

“No, that’s the ‘all-play’ bed.”

“Oh…the what?” Jess asked.

“It means people can do anything they want to you,” Claire said.  “If you sit there, you’re basically telling everyone you’re up for like…everything.”

Oh God!” Jess said, quickly popping up.

I noticed a sweaty man and a woman with a neck tattoo on the other side of the room.  They were sitting back down on some folding chairs, both clearly disappointed Jess had gotten up from the bed.

“Thank you,” I said to Brian.

“Yeah, I figured that wasn’t what she was looking for.”

“No, no, no,” Jess said.  ”I was wondering why no one was sitting there.”

“Yeah, that’s why,” Claire smiled.

“How’d you know about the bed?” I said.  “I thought you two had never been to one of these things?”

“Oh, we haven’t,” Claire said.  “We got a room, and when we checked in, they gave us a little rundown.”

“Oh…” I said.  “Well, I’m glad you were here.”

“We’re glad you’re here,” Claire said, then leaned in.  “We expected it to be just a bunch of creepy people.”

“Oh my God, we did too,” Jess said.

For the next ten minutes, we just kept chatting.  Brian told us about the shipping company he worked for.  Claire mentioned they’d just booked their vacation to Alaska.  Jess said we’ve always wanted to go there.  Brian joked that his feet were hurting and pretended to sit on the “all-play” bed.  We laughed and drank our cocktails, and except for the old guy getting a handjob in the corner, it was like a normal-ish party.  People were sharing email addresses and eating snacks and talking about the Lakers.

Before I knew it, our drinks were finished.

“Is there a bar up here?” I said.

“No, it’s downstairs,” Brian said.

Claire whispered, “We actually brought a bottle of vodka.  It’s in our room.  We figured the drinks were going to be really expensive.”

“Good idea,” I said.

“Do you two want a…drink?” Brian said.

“Oh…I don’t know.  Jess?”

“I’d like one more,” my wife said.

And suddenly we were following the couple from Pasadena to their room.  Things were about to get really weird.

To be continued…

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More Important Than a Threesome

Today I posted the tale of my wife and I having our first threesome.  It was ridiculous and possibly a little funny, but I can’t help but feel it was too trivial for the day.

This morning our President said these words: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall…” he said. “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

I don’t care if you like our President or not.  These words are not just letters strung together in a speech; this is the compassion of nation reaching into the hearts of the marginalized and the ostracized.  We will always have bigotry.  We will always have those unwilling to accept, to love, to embrace… But so long as we cast light into the darkness, then this nation will never be lost.

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We Kissed a Girl – #1

Before my wife and I got married we decided to have a threesome.  We weren’t looking to enter the “lifestyle” or for me to grow a mustache.  We just thought it’d be fun.

In college, Jess had a stint where she only dated girls.  She even hooked up with a female cop, who was really into dental dams, which makes me giggle every time I see a commercial for Saran Wrap.

Six months before the wedding Jess admitted she sort of missed being with a female, and being a supportive fiancé, how could I deprive her of this wish?

Yes, my mom’s gay, and yes, marrying a lady who’s into women was not only psychologically fucked but also dangerous.  What if she left me for the other woman?  Still, it was a threesome, and I was willing to take the risk.

So we started looking, which was awkward, because a couple hitting on a girl at a bar is just creepy.  And personal ads on the Internet are, in all likelihood, either a prostitute or a dude.  This left us with friends, but neither of us felt comfortable asking anyone.

So we packed the threesome fantasy away, told ourselves it was for the best.

A few weeks later, Michelle called.  She was Jess’s friend from college.  They chatted for an hour.  Jess walked out of the bedroom and said:

“I, uh, think we found our threesome.”

“Really?”

“Michelle’s coming to L.A.  She wants to stay with us.”

“Okay, but how do you know she… I mean, did you two ever…?”

“Not really, but she’s working.”

“Oh…”

“As a massage therapist.”

Oh…”

“Giving happy endings.”

OH!”

Over the next few days, Jess and I discussed the ground rules:

Jess said, “What about kissing?”

I said, “You two should definitely kiss.  Repeatedly.”  Then–  “Are we really doing this?”

“Yes.  But if I can kiss her then you should kiss her.”

“I don’t know…”

“Anthony, I’m not going to get jealous.  And if for some reason I do, I’ll tell you.  We have to be open with each other.  We have to communicate.”

So we covered everything, well, everything except how to bring it up to Michelle.  Neither of us wanted to do it, and when Michelle arrived, we still didn’t have a plan.  We sat in our living room and made small talk.  Michelle seemed tired.  She bitched about the airline and the flight.  I talked about road construction.  Finally, Jess suggested we go out for drinks.  After a pitcher of beer, Michelle talked about the guy she was dating.  It was becoming obvious this wasn’t going to happen.  I decided to step out for a cigarette.  Michelle wanted to join.  She talked more about the guy, about her new apartment, about the shitty weather in New York.  I asked questions and smiled and realized how awful it was that Jess and I just assumed we were going to have a threesome with this girl, who clearly thought she was just visiting a friend.

We walked back inside and slid into the booth.

“So,” Michelle said, “I have an idea.”

“Okay,” Jess said and poured herself a beer.

“I want to show Anthony what I do for a living.”

And here we go.

Check paid. Car started. We’re back at the apartment. Michelle tells us both to strip.  She says she’ll be right back.

Jess takes off her sweater and whispers, “What do you think she’s doing?”

I whisper, “I have no idea.”

I hear a ding.  The door opens.  Michelle’s topless.  She’s holding a bottle of oil.  She tells me to lie down and relax.  The oil is hot.  The ding must have been the microwave.  She’s rubbing my shoulders.  I feel the oil dripping down my side.  I know it’s going to stain the sheets.  I hear kissing.  Michelle’s on my back, so I can’t really turn, but I keep twisting and angling.  Finally, I catch a glimpse, and it’s wonderful, but something pops in my back.  It hurts but I don’t want to scream.  I just bite the pillow.  I no longer care about a happy ending.  I just want the massage, but the girls are really making out.  Michelle tells me to flip over.  I try not to grimace or make a weird noise.  There are hands all over me.  I forget about my back.  Jess kisses me and gives me a look.  She’s trying to see if I’m okay with this.  I realize we have a safe word to stop things, but we have nothing to say, “Proceed!”  So I just kiss her.  Everything is a blur.  Everyone is adjusting and moving and it goes on for a really long time, like we’re-getting-cramps-type-of-long.  But Michelle hasn’t finished.  It doesn’t matter what we try.  I’m thinking we should take a nap, try again later, but Jess is determined.  I’ve seen this look before, like when we couldn’t figure out how to hook up our computer to our TV.  Jess scoured the Internet, ordered things on Amazon.  She didn’t sleep until we had Netflix on the big screen.

Now, she’s pulling out a vibrator.  She has a feather and a little whip.

The next morning I wake up to Michelle snapping pictures of us with her phone.  Jess and I drive her to the airport.  We hug each other and wave goodbye.  Jess turns to me.

“I forgot being with a woman is so exhausting.”

“Yeah…”

“But I, uh, kind of want to do it again.”

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If First You Don’t Succeed, Lie, Lie, Lie Again

Growing up, my parents told me to never lie.  Adults say this, but the truth is, every parent lies, especially to kids.  Sometimes it’s necessary.  The house is on fire; the child’s in danger.  There isn’t time to explain why you need to run.  Then you have the magical white lies, like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Jesus.  Sometimes you’re just tired and you don’t give a shit.  Your kids asks, “Why can’t I eat the little brown nub on a banana?”  You say, “Because it’s poison and you’ll die.”

You’re not trying to traumatize the tyke.  You’ve just been beaten down by the barrage of questions.  You want the little guy to eat, to nap, to shut up for five seconds, so you can pour yourself a bottle of wine.  Yes, a bottle.

My father is the master of mendacity, but the majority of his lies are meaningless.  They’re told to move things along.  Why mention he was playing poker with the guys when he knows it’s going to cause a fight, and they’re already running fifteen minutes late?

Sometimes you just need to expedite.

But while my father has perfected his skills of deception, my mom tells most lies with the grace of a child caught with her hand in the toilet.

“No, I was not trying to pick up my poo.  I wasuhpushedby awerewolf.”

When someone would ask my mom for a favor she didn’t want to do, she’d fumble and stammer until sometimes the person would just walk away to end the awkwardness.

I always assumed my mom just didn’t have it in her to lie, that she was too good, too kind.

That’s what made her coming out so difficult.

Yes, my father had secrets, but not my mom, not something like this.  I know she didn’t have a choice, not really.  I suppose she could’ve moved to San Francisco or New York, but she met my father and she wanted a family.  Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but it was good.  They had two kids and a nice house.  They had friends, family, and a quiet little life.  So my mom swallowed the truth and kept up the big lie until eventually it became too much to bear.

I’m starting to get a sense of that.  For years, I’ve prided myself on being extremely honest, but I’m not sure I have been.  I know I don’t lie well to others, at least not in person.  My face gets red, I can’t hold eye contact, and I keep repeating, “What?” over and over.  But even though I don’t fabricate well to others, I’m every bit the master as my father when it comes to lying to myself.  No, I didn’t have too much to drink last night.  No, I’m not pissing away my talent.  Yes, I have a plan to get myself out of debt.  Of course, I’m going to sell my novel.  Yes, I can lose this weight.  I am not going bald.  My hairline is just fine…

When my mother told the truth about her sexuality it blew our family to smithereens.  We picked up the pieces, and we’re better off because of it, but there’s still residual pain.  I fear the same might happen with this blog.  Will my need to tell the truth cause the same destruction?

Maybe it would be better if I just lied?

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Bipolar II: Electric Boogaloo

I struggled when my mom came out of the closet.  It had nothing to do with her being gay; it was the fact she’d been keeping this secret.  She’d been married to my dad for 25 years, and she was still married to him when she told me the truth.  I started to wonder if I knew this woman at all.  What else was she hiding?

What if she’s a terrorist?

I saw deception everywhere. I was back in L.A. having what I’d later learn was my first hypomanic episode.  It was like free cocaine, without the nosebleeds.  I wrote nonstop, about my mom, my family.  I’d never kept a diary, and this wasn’t really a diary, more like the pages you’d find at a serial killer’s apartment.  Notebooks stacked into teetering towers, piles of napkins covered with my asexual chicken-scratch handwriting.

I stopped sleeping.

I saw connections in everything.

Sycronicity.  Fate.  Predestination.

I became obsessed with conspiracy theories, everything from the ancient Sumerians to JFK.  I was like a manic Mulder, searching for the Truth, attempting to peel back the curtain of lies disseminated by the government, both shadow and real.  I spent days in bookstores pouring over everything from Pearl Harbor to the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I scoured illiterate websites and rented documentaries on Waco and the Gnostics.  I read Holy Blood; Holy Grail and began questioning my years of Jesuit education.

Then I wrote a novel in three weeks.  It was about two teenagers working at Blockbuster who decide to start a cult, and one of the guys learns he’s a direct descendent of Jesus.  It was one of the worst books ever written, but I had to keep typing.  I wrote crackpot philosophical manifestos about how people need to pick the exact date they are going to die, then believe in that date wholeheartedly.  “Only with a deadline does anything happen.”  I wrote treaties on threesomes, how it’s not really cheating when your partner is in the bed.

I badgered my girlfriend at the time to make out with other girls.  We’d bring them back to my place and I’d watch them strip and finger each other.

I became consumed by the idea of being with two girls.

I didn’t know it was hypomania at the time. I thought I was just really awake.

It would take me another seven years to find out I’m manic-depressive, more specifically, bipolar II.  When the psychiatrist read me the criteria, I started crying.  I wasn’t upset.  I just wanted to give him a hug.  For the first time, I had an answer to what was going on in my head.  It explained why I could go days without sleeping and write until my fingers bled.  It also explained the thoughts of suicide.

A lot of people more talented than I’ll ever be have written about their depression, so I’m not going to offer anything groundbreaking here.  All I can say is that when you’re living in that awful space, you’re not just sad.  You’re ashamed.  You make up excuses why you can’t meet for lunch.  You don’t leave the house, afraid if anyone saw the real you they’d puke.  It’s that shame that keeps you in the darkness.  You lock the door and stay under the blankets.  Later, you tell people you had the flu.  You bury your secrets.  You pray no one will ever find out, because you don’t want to be judged or hated.  You do that enough to yourself.

My mom knew that feeling all too well.  She didn’t want to break up the family or hurt her children.  She didn’t want to be despised or hear the bigots.  She wanted to keep her friends and her life and the home she’d built.  There were moments she probably wished she were straight.   Wouldn’t life be easier?

But eventually, it became too painful to keep pretending.  It was too much work.  So she gathered the courage and told me the truth.  She knew our relationship might be damaged, but she took the chance and trusted me.  It wasn’t easy for me at first, but over time, I realized nothing about her had really changed.  She was still the same caring, supportive, hilarious, inappropriate woman I’ve always known. She was still my mom.

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