Raising a young gay man is not easy. Especially when you’re a 35-year-old dyke.
A few months ago, I adopted a 21-year-old fag. I didn’t know he was a fag at first and neither did he — although we both had our suspicions. Then one night, after many a gin and tonic, he lay on my couch wearing a pair of pink bunny ears and sighed, “Morgan, I’m gay.” I took one look at him and said, “I know, sweetie. I know.”
There’s a sense of responsibility one feels when you are the first person someone comes out to. Well, there’s a sense of responsibility I feel for pretty much everyone I encounter, so I guess this was a tailor-made situation for a caretaker such as myself.
I thought I would be a good gay foster parent. I’ve been out for a fair chunk of time. I’m knowledgeable about our history and politics, and hell, I even write for a queer paper. But I soon discovered I was ill-equipped for the task on account of him being a male of the species.
I don’t know how many people are in on this, but gay men are different than dykes. It’s true. It didn’t help that he was a book-loving, movie-watching, shy guy not much interested in leaving the house. The two of us had a great time baking pies and watching our favourite comedy shows over and over again, tuning in to Dr Phil each day like clockwork and generally hibernating as I love to do.
But as much as I enjoyed having a little hermit friend join in my little hermit ways, I saw that this wasn’t going to help him find his gay identity very fast. I had to look into other activities.
Lesbian poetry reading? Check. Dyke March? Check. Drag king show? Check. Um… yeah.
It became abundantly clear that I was raising him to be a lesbian. Which is all well and good unless what you really want is something altogether different. A new approach was obviously in order.
A female friend and I took him out dancing at a gay club. This seemed like an excellent idea to me. The word “mortified” might be one he’d use to describe the experience. It was the gay equivalent of going to a spring break kegger in Fort Lauderdale with your parents. While he tried to blend into the scenery, we pointed out cute boys. “Is he your type? What about him? Ooh, he’s kind of like a gay Jack Black! What about that guy in the goofy hat dancing by himself over there? He’s hot.”
What I learned from this is that a) I have very weird taste in men and, b) I am not very helpful when it comes to being cool at your first fag bar. At least, this is what I gathered from the fact that he kept repeating, “Would you stop? Would you please just stop?!”
Next stop, the internet. I sat him down at the computer and looked over his shoulder while he reluctantly perused personal ad profiles. When we discovered you had to pay to reply to any of them, I gave up. He seemed somehow relieved. I e-mailed a faggo friend of mine for suggestions of better websites than the one I’d found. He replied with a staggering list and helpful tidbits of information like, “You need to have a naked picture of yourself to post on this one,” and “Anyone who says they just want to go for coffee is lying.” The word “mortified” might be one I’d use to describe the experience. This was a far cry from the dyke dating sites I know where women posted poetry as part of their profiles.
I realized I was in over my head. I acknowledged that what I knew about dating gay men was pamphlet material and what my friend needed was a how-to book, so I called in the big guns. I recruited some fairy godfathers. Only too happy to oblige, they took him out dancing. They introduced him to new friends. They watched Buffy with him. My months of attempting to ruin his young gay life were all undone in one weekend, and I was grateful.
The moral of the story? Don’t send a dyke to do a fag’s job.
And yet, I have to say, I think he’s better off for my queer girl influence. As inept as my parental fumblings may have been, I see in my young friend an understanding of the queer community far outside the scope of the fag bar scene and I think this is a good thing.
I can’t take responsibility for him being such a great guy. He was that long before I met him. But I do believe I had a positive influence on his coming out as a gaylord and as a person. I couldn’t love him more and I wish him well on his journey from here. It may take a village to raise a child but it only takes one queer femme to raise a young gay man. As long as she’s got some reliable fairy godfathers she can call on.