There was no official coming out to my friends. We’re all basically bi, right? But I needed to call my mom. Her gay step brother had died of AIDS, so she’d always been an ally, but to her, to be queer, was to struggle.
“Mom, I’m seeing someone,” I said. “It’s… a woman.”
“No,” she said. “I asked you when you were a kid. I gave you a chance to tell me. I told you it was fine either way, and you told me you weren’t gay.”
That conversation: I was so young. Already, I had crushes on boys, and girls. I knew the right answer when she’d asked. “No,” I said, “I’m not gay.”
“Your grandpa can never know.”
It was bad enough his Jewish daughter—my mom—had married a gentile.
“He’ll have a heart attack if he finds out. Promise me.”
Promise me you’ll hide a part of yourself. Promise me you’ll lie to protect him from reality.
“He’ll die soon,” she’d said. “Just suck it up.” Then: “I’d understand if you were a lesbian,” she said. “But you have a choice. You can choose a man. Choose an easy life.”
Four months later, my girlfriend and I broke up. Immediately, I moved in with a man—a heroin addict. With a penis. My mom was overjoyed.
I never told my grandpa about the girlfriend. And, I hid all the dates I had with women, dates that filled the gaps between men, even from my mother.
Two years after I met her, I met him: another man. A lovely man. And I married him, just before my grandpa died.
Kept my promise. Easy, right?