I’m in East Texas, visiting my parents with my younger son, C2. If all goes as planned, I will be telling my parents I’m gay sometime before I leave here on Wednesday afternoon. It has been too long coming and I’ve grown tired listening to my own fears and excuses.
Each morning that I’ve been here, I’ve gotten up early to walk 4-5 miles down a country road splitting parcels of wooded lots and ponds–sparse inhabitants save a few hundred species of fowl, a number of squirrel types including the flying variety, armadillos, snakes (who kindly remain hidden), turtles sunning on logs, boars, deer, and a beastly number of mosquitoes. It’s humid out, but I sort of dig the sensuality of a moist climate–much preferred to the fake air blasting through most indoor establishments during East Texas summers.
About a mile and a half into my walk this morning, I came upon a pack of hungry buzzards–easily nine or ten–feasting on a dead boar on the side of the road. Uncertain the behavior of such birds when they consider their food source threatened, I slowed my pace for cautionary observation. One by one, the buzzards looked at me then flew up into the boughs of trees above. A few of them continued with their meals, making no hurry of their departures until I was within about fifteen feet, at which point they flew just high enough to be out of my reach, not out of my view. It was an eerie minute or so that passed under the weight of so many silent eyes.
Now… anyone who knows me, understands that I am about equal parts research, evidence, and logic to witchery, sign, and intuition. So as my coming out to my parents was consuming most of my thoughts, I naturally looked upon these buzzards as some sort of omen for trouble ahead. I began re-thinking. Maybe this is a bad idea. A new friend had rightly chuckled when I mentioned that my father owned guns–lots of them–yet when I told C2 that I planned to come out to his grandparents, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Mom, you better wait till the last day. You know how many guns J- has.” Deep down, I knew Dad wouldn’t shoot me, but still this “sign” was an opening to my age-old fears of losing the relationships I have with my mom and dad altogether. Back in the closet.
But I wasn’t in that space for more than about ten minutes before something else happened. A break in the oak canopy above created something of a spotlight on two doe leaping across my path in three perfect arcs, the last over a fence that presented no obstacle to these animals whose beauty and grace, literally, took my breath away. Mind you, they were two doe–not a buck and a doe–and they knew no boundary.
Today is the 4th of July. Not really… it’s June 29th. But my family has this habit of celebrating holidays whenever we can be together. That means that if we can all be together on December 22nd then that’s Christmas. The same is true, I learned today, for the 4th of July. Today we had burgers and potato salad, baked beans and apple pie… And we went to church.
It was a huge church, hundreds, if not thousands, of people. We listened to patriotic songs, sang some, honored men from each branch of the service who’d served in war, and listened to a sermon. The pastor celebrated war and sacrifice in the name of “freedom” (ignoring the corporate interest of almost every war), even as he condemned the nation for its immorality… for its opening to gay marriage. He said that his god laughed on our concerns because he was almighty and he would have the last say… that he was punishing us even now, and he said that if his god had changed his mind [about gay acceptance], then his god would have to apologize for Sodom and Gomorrah. And the congregation broke out in intermittent spontaneous applause. This just 36 hours before I plan to tell my parents that I am gay. If ever I thought this would be simple…
The sign of the buzzards, it turns out, is very real; it feeds on carcasses of the fearful and the easily intimidated. But the sign of the doe, in all of its freedom and grace, is equally real. I’m banking on it. And here I’m reminded of my poker pals (It’s 3:00 in the morning, so you’ll forgive me for mixing metaphors). My waning chips are on the table and I’ve got this killer hand: two doe beat a pack of hungry buzzards, hands down. I’ve shoved all my chips to the center and declared, “All in.” My poker buddies, in unison, say, “Good luck, All In.”
The day has come.