When you’re pregnant, people will come up to you and tell you the most horrific stories. “I came into the room, and there was my wife, sprawled on the floor, covered in blood.” Or, “My labor was at 42 hours when they decided to try the seaweed.” You listen to these stories, and think, I’m sorry you were so frightened. I am frightened too. Now, even more so. They’re trying to tell you that they can’t think about pregnancy without thinking about that moment — the seaweed, the wife prone and bloody. They remember the pain.
And this is how you learn the difference between pregnancy and birth. The difference between the preparation, the process, and the final, glorious achievement. There he is, the squalling, furious beauty. There he is.
I think we do that with coming out stories too. I think, sometimes, what we remember are the hateful things said to us, the meanness. When, for me, most of the reactions were loving and generous. A reader asked me to write about some positive experiences from friends and family, and I have been unable to remember a single time my friends or co-workers weren’t supportive and amazing. They came en masse to my wedding. They ask about my son and my wife. They have never, not once, treated me differently from my straight co-workers or my straight friends.
My religious friends have been as accepting as my secular and pagan friends. They have behaved, in short, the way the world should behave. As though my being gay is just another thing about me, like my tendency to gush about my kid, or my habit of glazing over the moment you talk about crafting. Not the focus, just a fact.
I went to a wedding last night, and Mary and I were readers, with another married couple. And that’s the way we were presented. The married couples will read …. This is not the world I expected as a child, sitting in the pew when the nasty little man in his suit shouted that the homosexuals could stay in their closets with the rest of the cobwebs. I’ve been telling the scary labor stories, and haven’t spent enough time telling you about birth. About the ways I am loved and nurtured. Loved and nurtured. Loved and nurtured.
The truth is, most of us want our friends and neighbors to be happy and productive. That’s a value. And a worldview. And it’s more prevalent than we realize sometimes.