Late at night (it is now 1:08am) I tend to get to wondering about things that I could probably research online but am simply too tired or otherwise occupied to do so. I rarely write them down and as a result they go unexplored. Tonight the topic I was wondering about actually matters enough to me to write down so I don’t forget and also to publish in case anyone else wonders about the same thing.
In my lifespan (1968 to Present) there have been RADICAL changes in the way GLBT folks are accepted in the world. I know there is still room for improvement but for someone who was my current age at the time I was born the current situation would seem like near nirvana. I have my own theories about why this has all happened but that would be a whole other post. What I wonder about now is how adult homosexuals are handling this – for some – newfound acceptance within their own families and most especially with parents.
The reason this stuck in my mind is a conversation I had recently with someone in which it came up that I had gone over one and half decades without seeing my mother at one point. The biggest reason for this was our failure to see eye-to-eye over my lifestyle. Mind you, among the GLBT folks I have known, my lifestyle is about the most sedate and conservative sort imaginable. The real core problem was a letter my mother had written me when I was eighteen – in 1986 – in which she referred to my partner and my home as under Satan’s influence and recommended I get out of the house to pray. That, and other parts of the letter left me with the feeling that I would be better off just severing that relationship entirely rather than trying to find a common ground. I was lucky in that while most eighteen year olds still relied on parental support in some form I personally did not. By the way, my partner, Chuck Matlack, and I remained together until his death almost fourteen years later.
I now email and talk to my mother on a fairly regular basis. She has even come to visit Brian and I twice. This is all fine with me, however I wonder about other people. The choice to let someone back into your life because society, and its influence on that someone, has changed over time is a difficult one. If there is an estrangement it is almost certainly the result of something going wrong with the relationship in the first place and the relationship likely ended in a way that hurt one or both people. That ending has to either be addressed by both sides before moving forward, or it has to be completely ignored. I think either approach is fine and which is best depends on the situation.
In the case of my mother and I it was the latter. I have no interest in trying to resolve a disagreement my mother’s 35 year old self had with my 18 year old self. I know people though who simply could not let go that way. They would find it necessary to at least get a sincere apology for any ‘wrongdoing’ on the other person’s part before moving on into a new relationship with their parent.
What I wonder is how much in common GLBT adults have with adults who, as children, we adopted and have now been contacted by their birth parents. In one way, the adopted person may have it easier in that the relationship ended before it started so there is no acrimony that needs to be smoothed out before building a new foundation. Adopted children and adults have their own set of issues that must be resolved before they can have a relationship with the person who put them up for adoption, however, like GLBT folk, they first have to decide if they even want to make the effort to start the process. My question is: For the adopted and GLBT folks who decide to go for it and try to establish a relationship with an estranged parent, how many of the same problems do they need to address.