Welcome Abby Dees, and Host Teddy Partridge.

Queer Questions Straight Talk: 108 Frank and Provocative Questions it’s Okay to Ask Your Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual Loved One

Host, Teddy Partridge:

Abby Dees has written a wonderful compendium of questions, with recommended phrasing, about being queer. Have you held off asking your loved one who’s come out to you, whether recently or years ago, something you really want to know? Let’s face it, in modern American culture, we are constantly bombarded by sexual imagery, sexually suggestive advertising, sexual innuendo in our humor and comedy, sex, sex, sex — all the time SEX! But — we’re as prudish as anyone on the planet when it comes to actually talking about sex, and anything to do with sex.

And sexual orientation, at its very heart, has to do with sex. Sure, we’re not defined by sex, and we’re not defined by our sexuality. We don’t want to be pigeonholed or discriminated against based on our sexuality. We don’t want to talk about our sex, or our sexual orientation, all the time. But we want to be respected for it, we want it acknowledged (that’s what all those parades were about last month, in case you missed the point of them!) and we want those closest to us to be able to talk with us about who we are.

But, “Ask me anything!” is too often followed by, “Ummmmm….”

Folks who need to know what and how to ask their lesbian, gay, and bisexual loved ones will find Abby Dees’ handy guidebook friendly, compassionate, helpful and funny. It’s not meant to ANSWER any of your questions; it’s meant to help you ask them. It’s a way to start a conversation about any LBG subject you really want to ask about, without fearing (or getting!) a reaction like “How could you ask me such a thing!?”

I asked Bev Wright, FDL’s Book Salon guru, to get Abby Dees for an afternoon as soon as I read about this book. There are lots of decent, well-meaning straight folks here at Firedoglake who want to ask questions but are sometimes constrained by their desire not to inadvertently offend. Abby Dees helps frame the questions — the entire discussion, sometimes — in a way that makes conversation flow freely and happily. Most of all, she recognizes that communication builds alliances. As a minority, LesBiGay people (her construction; not my favorite, but I got used to it) need all the allies we can get. Taking questions is how to build alliances.

One note: Abby Dees admits up front that her lack of knowledge of transgender life makes her unqualified to include the -T part of our alliance in her book; thus LesBiGay. I find it refreshing that an author admits she can’t speak for everyone; her plea that someone write a companion volume for transgender people is eloquent and, I hope, soon met.

Another note: Abby Dees isn’t afraid to talk about sex. Or frame questions for you about sex. She, unlike some of our political activists who ask that we downplay our sex, is willing to acknowledge — even celebrate — the role sex plays in sexual orientation. As she writes, “Duh.”

Here’s an extended quote from the author that makes the point:

In other words, LesBiGays aren’t just all about the sex. A more thoughtful response is that sex does in fact matter. I didn’t fall for my partner because of her cooking skills and the insurance benefits I could get through her work — though those are very nice — I fell for her because she was attractive to me. She was beautiful, had great thick hair, a perfect nose, a keen sense of humor, and a lovely smell. She also had a nice rack. There, I said it. She does.

Abby Dees provides a helpful list of resources at the end of her book as well as a place to continue the conversation: www.QueerQuestionsStraightTalk.com. For now, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to chat with her here about this terrific book.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

144 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Abby Dees, Queer Questions Straight Talk: 108 Frank and Provocative Questions it’s Okay to Ask Your Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual Loved One”

BevW July 16th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Abby, Welcome to the Lake.

Teddy, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Hi, folks — thanks for having me!

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon, Abby! And hello, firepups.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

So, one of the most annoying questions I recall is “Who’s the man?” to which I used to reply “Do you mean who brings home more money, or do you mean who takes out the trash, or do you want to know some more intimate detail?”

What’s the best way to ask this question, and what IS this question, anyway?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

And — by the way — 108 questions? Did you get any pressure from your publisher to make it 99?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hah — this was one of the top two questions I heard when I was collecting questions from the book. Even sophisticated city-dweller types asked me this in kind of embarrassed tones. I’m always tempted to say, “well, on Tuesdays and THursdays, she’s the man; Mondays and Weds I’m the man…” etc., but I think the better way is to avoid the snark and ask people in straight relationships what makes them “the man” or “the woman”? Are any of us really this divided into stereotypes anymore?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

It certainly brings up these old ideas of what a man is supposed to be or a woman is supposed to be and it’s a good jumping off point for a greater conversation. But yeah, people still seem to have a hard time imagining an alternative to that binary, though we are all breaking those stereotypes, whether straight or LGBT.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 5

108 was my publisher’s idea, in fact. We wanted something a little different than the usual, and I’m told that 108 has lots of auspicious significance in some Eastern traditions…so 108. Why not?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:07 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 8

At first I was worried I’d even get 20 questions, let alone 108. But in the end, I had to really prune to make it all fit in.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 6

I suppose there’s always the method suggested by Father Andres Garcia Torres, who, upon being accused of being gay, has said he’ll travel to Rome to have the Pope measure his anus for “dilation”.

I think that actually gets to the heart of the question, for gay men anyway: who puts what where. But it also allows stereotyping, at least for older friends of mine: they know who is ‘the wife’ and who to compliment on the meal they just ate.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 9

How did you collect your questions, and who are the folks who provided some of the answers in the wonderful bordered sections (great answers there, by the way)?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Yes, absolutely. It’s almost a question (if I can put on my feminist theory hat for a second) of who is in power. And we know of course that power takes all sorts of forms. People also tend to think that, say, if you are more butch appearing than your partner, you must be “the man” or the one with the power. But there are so so so many levels to these things. And what one looks like, of course, rarely bears much relationship to who they actually are at their core. So this question often leads to follow up questions about what the whole butch/femme thing is about. Also a good conversation!

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Very unscientifically. I just put it out to everyone I knew via email, Facebook and what have you, that I wanted people to tell me any questions they’d had, heard or ever wish someone would ask about LGBT life. Then I also solicited answers if people happened to have them.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

My mom, who lives in a nest of Washington, DC, Virginia suburban Republicans, lets the anti-marriage equality chatter get started at the bridge table for about 30 seconds before she quietly says, “You all do know you’re speaking about my son and his partner of 10 years, right?”

Sometimes all it takes is a question.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I included the answers for some questions to show that there is rarely ONE OFFICIAL CORRECT ANSWER to any of this stuff. Some of the answers are verbatim (as are the questions), but many are composites of multiple responses I got.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I love your mom. That’s really how it works in the end, isn’t it! We just have to get down to talking about real people here, not political or religious straw men.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

BTW, you asked who the people were who provided the answers. Some of them were people I knew, but I also encouraged people to forward my request to people they knew, so some are strangers to me or friends of friends. I did try to get as representative a sample as i could. I also interviewed some people who work with LGBT clients, such as at the Trevor Project.

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Welcome, Abby.

My brother is gay. We are estranged [for other reasons, obviously]. But if we weren’t, what I always wanted to ask him was “how/when did you know you were gay? What was that like for you?”

We grew up outside Houston, 1954-1964, not exactly a “welcoming” community. Brother went to college and then, under the threat of the draft [1968] joined OCS & the Navy. Left it in 1975, I think under the fear of being outed & ousted.

He met his partner in the Navy and was with him until the partner’s death from AIDS in 1989.

However, even through the partner’s illness & death, he would never “admit” he was gay, even though he was living in SF, and on Castro Street. I wouldn’t have cared, and indeed would have supported him.

However, our mother, until her death @ 95 in 2005, would remark to me a least once per three conversations, “maybe [brother] will find someone, settle down & have kids.” And she was NOT talking about a gay relationship + adoption!!

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 13

So, can you tell us about the questions you had to omit?

Were there entire topics you might cover in QQST2?

Kelly Canfield July 16th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi there – what’s the most provocative question(or one you’ve gotten the most pushback/feedback on) you deal with in the book?

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Teddy, can I drop by & say “hi” to your mom the next time I’m in DC?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 18

Wow — what an American story that is. It just shows how deeply we carry shame and fear around these issues despite it being so clear that we are gay. My grandmother knew I was a lesbian for ages, and yet still asked my mother if she thought I’d ever be married. (I am now, of course, but to my partner Traci). But perhaps this comes from an old way of thinking that being gay is sort of a reaction to something. Maybe the hope is that we will eventually stop reacting to whatever that thing is and finally be “normal.” A lot of well meaning people have that mindset as your mom did. It doesn’t usually come from malice but a true lack of understanding.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I left some more specific questions out if I felt I could cover a few things in one question more generally. I can’t really remember details right now, unfortunately. I absolutely forgot to include one question in the stereotypes section, though: “Is it true that lesbians don’t have a sense of humor?”

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 18

Your mom likely knew men from her own generation who made just the choice she hoped her son would make. Let’s face it, there are lots of men (and women) in opposite-sex marriages, still, who chose a life of denial and repression in order to meet society’s, and family’s, expectations.

One need only look at the history of the English Crown for examples.

It’s only very recently that people have been able to live openly, plainly, and partnered and sometimes (still) only in the gay ghettos of major cities. And it’s only recently that people have felt comfortable asking — and answering — the questions in Abby’s book.

It’s a revolutionary time we live in; it only feels like it’s moving at a snail’s pace when you’re living it.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I think the most provocative question, at least for me, was “Can’t gay rights wait a bit when there are so many other pressing issues in the world right now, like war and poverty, etc.” This one rings my bells — I think the quick answer is to paraphrase MLK Jr., that there is no bad time for justice.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 23

Of course lesbians have a sense of humor, they just refuse to laugh at that second-date joke about the U-Haul!

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

But this question deserves a little more time and nuance to discuss. I think in these economic times it’s easy to fall for the stereotype that gay people are all well to do and living in fabulous Chelsea flats. When what we’re really talking about here is people losing their jobs, their children, their immigration status all because of their sexual orientation. We are still talking about human rights here.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Yes, I agree with the generational shift. And there are still so many places where it’s still “OK to be gay” if you don’t scare anybody with it. Oy. My great aunt lived with her “companion” for 30-odd years, a woman described by all as “a rather mannish photographer.” When I suggested they might be a couple, there was complete silence. I still know couples who live like this and no one dares suggest they might be anything more than spinsters.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

“How should I introduce your partner to other people?” is one of my favorites.

Patrick and I use the word ‘fiance’ because people (especially some women) get all excited about whether we’ve set a date. Then I get to remind them that the state constitution where we lives bars our marriage, so we’re waiting for well-meaning allies to repeal that amendment.

It makes people think. It’s really quite striking to many people to realize I can’t marry the person I love where we live, because our marriage is illegal. Prohibited. Constitutionally verboten.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Ah yes, the U-Haul. It ain’t funny; it’s true!

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 22

Glad to provide you with that anecdote.

Here’s another I recall, upon thinking further: shortly before his death, my Dad, who was ex-Army and very anti-gay, remarked to me that he feared that “those people” [referring to my brother's partner] “tried to recruit/seduce” innocent people like my brother. This was in 1981.

With a parent like that, you can understand why my brother wanted to remain deeply closeted, but my Dad died a month or two thereafter. My mom was a meek soul who did not share his prejudice, but who was just too terrorized by the times to think beyond stereotypes and grasp her son’s humanity.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Even LGBT people are surprised to learn that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in most places. We do need to do a better job getting this information out there. I find also that people have a hard time getting their heads around the fact that even though Traci and I are married in California, we aren’t in Tennessee or according to the US govt. Strange but true. Thank you, DOMA, and now we have new presidential hopefuls pledging to fight FOR DOMA. Oy.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 28

I had a guidance counselor like your aunt in high school; she lived with a teacher who taught in another school. A friend and I were lucky enough to get invited to their summer house on the rocky Maine coast our senior year — my, those ladies cut loose up there! Martinis at 5pm, a custom Chrysler convertible, many other unmarried teachers and accountant-types living around them. Wiscasset was quite the lesbian summer town, completely unknown to everyone else.

On the other hand, growing up summers on Cape Cod, me and all my cousins were explicitly prohibited from ever going to Provincetown. It was ‘artsy.’ That’s all that was ever said about it.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 31

I think this is really common — that one parent stays silent so as not to have to challenge a bigoted partner. It puts a gay loved one into a terrible position of having to either stay closeted or make a parent keep a secret. Though my book is about encouraging the conversation, I’m very clear that sometimes we’re just not ready for that conversation. Knowing when it’s time to talk is a big deal. I do, however, encourage people to always push a little at that closet door if they feel at all safe to do it. It ultimately always comes down to a person actually knowing someone they care about who is gay to make a change, however small, in their consciousness.

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 27

Abby, I trust you’ve seen the postings here @ FDL about individual couples who’ve been slammed because they’re denied “partner” or “survivor” status.

Teddy, you posted at least some of those, right?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 32

85% of Americans think it’s illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in hiring. It’s actually legal in 39 states.

Our national groups have done a shamefully poor job educating Americans about the reality of being LGBT in America and the prejudice, legal discrimination, and hate we face.

It’s wonderful that The Trevor Project has created a safe space for young people, but we need a similar revolutionary organization around adult rights as well.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Ah yes — my mother used to discourage me from going into the arty part of Pasadena, where I grew up, to go to the local hang-out. She said there were lesbians there and they liked girls like me. She was, sadly, wrong about that.

CTuttle July 16th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Aloha, Teddy and Abby…

My eldest daughter is gay, tho, she’s never ‘officially’ told me she was…!

She knows we love and support her in all her endeavors, and, are proud of her and her many accomplishments…! ;-)

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 35

Yes, leading up to their testimony at next week’s DOMA hearing.

Here they are:

Andrew Sorbo


Ron Wallen

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

One of my favorite organizations is the National Center for Lesbian Rights in SF who advocate for LGBT people of all stripes. They have taken on a number of the denial of partnership rights cases, as well as the immigration and asylum cases that happen every year. Unfortunately, the talk about marriage rights has eclipsed the daily realities of LGBT folks more than it should.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 40

Contrary to a lot of reports, even in places like California we are still seeing horrible cases of discrimination against LGBT people no matter what the official status of the laws is.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 37

Yes, I was similarly warned away from the local hobby shop where I grew up, because some other boys had been ‘approached’ by the owner. I was crushed for having been ignored, and now banned.

There were, however, other outlets.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 38

I love hearing these things. Have you ever gone to a PFLAG meeting? I started going this year as a speaker and I never get tired of seeing moms and dads and sisters and brothers taking on the fight for our rights. It means everything to have this kind of community support. Ultimately, it can’t just be the LGBT folks fighting. We need our allies.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

So you and I and I imagine quite a few people grew up with that old stereotype that gays and lesbians were predators. The far right is still getting a lot of mileage from that idea.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

One question I would like an answer to, if you’re so inclined, Abby: Why do lesbians so often stay friends with their exes?

Speaking from my own experience in SF, gay men don’t do this so much, although now that I live in a smaller community (Portland) I’m noticing the breakups are more friendly and less dramatic.

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 34

I guess one thing that was puzzling to me was that my mom lived without my dad’s “influence” from his death in 1981 until hers in 2005, and yet she never let go of her “ignorance” about my brother.

I longed to talk with her and “bring her along,” but since my brother wasn’t being open [indeed, he never acknowledged his status even to me], I didn’t want to be in the position of “outing” him.

I likened this to the cognitive dissonance my family must have experienced over divorce: growing up, divorce was portrayed as horrible, and divorced persons as “losers.” Then I got divorced. Suddenly they had to choose: either I was a loser/horrible, or their POV was wrong.

I think my mom held a similar set of beliefs about homosexuality, and just couldn’t bear to “tarnish” her kid by associating him with that pile of prejudice.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I’m not married now,but I was for many years. Not once did anyone ask me what kind of sex my husband and I had. While I’m not much interested in how same sex couples have sex, I suppose many people are riddled with curiosity. But then I have a lively imagination, so I don’t have a bunch of questions about sex.

When I got un-married, I didn’t much care for men in general. I thought, wow, there is more than half the population available that I’ve never considered. :) That realization helped me to understand the inherent nature of sexuality/gender desire. I wish I had more universal urges! I think being Bi must be ideal for those of us who are freakin’ done with the opposites.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 44

It’s how they passed Prop 8 — fear of predation, or early exposure of uncomfortable sexualized facts, to children. One witness in Walker’s courtroom documented the predation myth from the 1920s, through WW2 and the post-war period, right up to Anita Bryant and Maggie Gallagher.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

What I have noticed in the last 5 years or so is that LGBT rights issues are coming out of the fringes and that individual progressives or people who believe that government should stay out of our private lives are taking real umbrage at such inequality. For a long time it seemed like people were happy to say that they supported gay rights, but no one was willing to take a public stand on our behalf. But now I feel like there is a critical mass of agreement among LGBT and straight people alike. Would y’all agree that there’s been a shift or are you skeptical?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Dearie @ 47

Your experience is, I believe, far from unique. Although there’s more follow-through than you’ve undertaken (yet). Go ahead, put your toe in the pond.

(See, we DO recruit!)

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Aaaahhh!!! Yes, a very common question. And if you watch the L-Word (real or otherwise) it does seem to be so: lesbians try to stay friends with their exes. Maybe it’s because we’re just women and — at the risk of furthering old stereotypes — we’re really community minded. Now, since I don’t have too many exes, I’m not besets buddies with too many. But I’m on good terms with them. OK, so one of my exes is one of my best friends now that I think about it…

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Teddy @ 50: you crack me up! Hope you don’t get yourself in trouble. And, yeah, I’m always open to getting the urge!

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 46

You make a good argument for how loaded this conversation is. If someone is still in a state of shame, it’s difficult to ask someone else not to be ashamed of them, if that makes sense. But the contrary also holds true: that if one person can break through the family’s agreed upon silence and shame, that’s when the whole structure can start coming undone. Somebody usually has to be willing to be the catalyst for it — and it may not be the LGBT person.

CTuttle July 16th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Dearie @ 47

*heh* My wife of 20 yrs has told on a few occasions that if we’d ever break up, she’d be done with guys…! ;-)

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Well, I think you’ve also touched on another myth: that there world is so evenly divided between straight and gay. When in fact we are much more fluid than that. I’m very lesbian, for example, but I am completely able to appreciate a man’s beauty and heart and all of that stuff. Who is to say that in another place and time I wouldn’t want to at least explore that aspect. Sexuality isn’t all that simple!

Kelly Canfield July 16th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 49

Frankly, I’m skeptical.

There are far too few hetero leader types that always walk the talk, and many politicians willing to list-build and ask for donations but fail to follow through.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Oh, the transcripts for the Prop 8 trial were like a primer on LGBT rights. It should almost be taught in schools verbatim! But then that would be indoctrination! Kidding, of course…

But still, if you want to understand what the debate boils down to, it makes for some good bedtime reading.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Abby @ 51; yes, I think women are more prone to retaining friendships…..and if you have loved and cared for someone, you probably have some sense of being friends-forever. I even ended up being friends with my ex despite that he was abusive in several ways…..for the sake of the kids. Eventually I recalled what I’d liked about him in the first place and was able to actually re-admire those good things I’d admired early on. BUT: if we didn’t have kids, I would never have spoken to him again! I don’t think women feel about women that way, even if things haven’t worked out well.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 49

It’s amazing to hear & see many young men, most very progressive, take the attitude that marriage equality is the way things should obviously be in America. I think about some I see on television and know from the internet: Chris Hayes, Spencer Ackerman, Markos Moulitsas, Duncan Black. Completely heterosexual men who favor gay rights.

It’s a new demographic to me.

They seem absolutely baffled by the prejudice in favor of opposite-marriage.

I think as the generation raised by same-sex couples comes of age, there has been a tidal wave of bafflement at this prejudice. These people know folks who turned out just fine who were raised in two-mom or two-dad households, or they were raised in one themselves.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 54

Now where are all these women who proclaim to be done with guys! When I was single, I couldn’t find a one…

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

It seems that this new generation — even conservative Christians — have a whole different view of things than people older than, say, 30. They really are baffled about what the big deal is. I’m hopeful that we will look back at this particular rancor over same-sex marriage and gay rights and think our forebears were being naive and backwards.

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 49

I agree. I think it’s a direct result of more people coming out, particularly folks like Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen Degeneres/Portia deRossi.

It used to be that the primary “example” of what it means to be gay was gay pride parades, particularly in SF, with participants being as outlandish as possible. I think people were scared by that.

However, as more and more folks acknowledged their sexual orientation, “homosexual” [and to a lesser extent, bi- & trans-] became the teacher or librarian, or uncle.

As more and more folks knew someone who was not straight, those people became less scary, and standing up for the non-scary friend or relative became more comfortable.

It’s like Teddy’s mom says, “you’re talking about my son and his partner.” Even if those ladies around the bridge table never meet Teddy, they know someone — a friend of theirs — who has a gay son, and who stands up for him. “Being gay” is no longer something Teddy’s mom has to be ashamed of re her son, or hope that that fact never comes out.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 57

It was a great loss that America didn’t get to watch the trial on tv, although those of us who live-blogged it tried our best to convey what happened. Liveblogging is very strange; when people refer to something that was said during the trial, I am a complete blank. My brain was totally disengaged from “remember” mode as I hurried to get the words down on the keyboard as they were said.

I think it would be fun to go back and re-read them sometime. It was a remarkable event, sometime maybe we’ll get those tapes released for America to see.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

If you are not familiar with it, I recommend paying attention to what’s happening at the WIlliams Institute at UCLA Law School. It is the largest think tank on LGBT issues in the country (perhaps the world) and they are collecting all the data there is to collect about gay families, etc. I’ve been to quite a few of their updates and the general sense is that time is proving us right. Gay families are just as fabulous (or messed up) as straight families, and that laws that support the rights of gay families make a big positive difference in the lives of kids.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

You can go to prop8trialtracker.com and get lots of archival info. The transcripts are available now, I believe, and a bunch of people did youtube reenactments based on those transcripts.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 62

Studies show that tolerance for LGBT people goes up exponentially based on someone’s personal knowledge of an LGBT person. This is why I keep coming back to this simple idea that we have a lot of power in simply telling our stories to someone in our lives. Just one person, that’s all.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

That is true of our national dinosaur organizations (“a million members” — give me a break, HRC!) but not so much for the guerilla action groups like GetEQUAL. I think we’re seeing leaders like Dan Choi, Victor Fehrenbach, Molly McKay, Rick Jacobs and others step forward to channel the vast energies of those committed to full legal equality.

Part of that is building alliances; whether we’re 3% or 15%, we’re still a small minority. We need to be able to have the conversations Abby’s book stimulates.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

To go back to Mauimom’s example, what do you think about leaving your book on the coffee table for a family that’s “stuck” and unable to even begin the conversation, Abby?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 66

Of course, some of us feel we can’t tell anyone or talk to anyone yet, but that is the goal I think on an individual basis. In the aggregate, each of us taking a step forward in sharing our lives, or as Ted’s mom over bridge does, speaking up a little bit where one might have been inclined to stay silent before, will make a huge rapid difference.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Go ahead and leave my book anywhere! Seriously, it’s not a rocket science high queer theory book, but designed to be accessible. Now, having said that, I also think it’s important to try to suss out whether there is a chance in hell that someone might be willing to talk. But if you think at least that someone is willing to entertain some of this on his or her own, then by all means give them a tool to do it. I always say, try to get there before Pat Robertson does.

Mauimom July 16th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

One problem in our “family” was that we [brother, mom, me] were scattered across the country: me [DC], him [SF], mom [Houston]. We weren’t “around the dinner table,” even for Thanksgiving or other holidays, so hard to begin that “conversation.”

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I’m always amazed by the way a family can be willing to dig in to their old attitudes. In these cases it is important to find some compassion for them while also insisting on some level that they know who you are. In other words, sometimes you need to speak your mind and then leave it be for a bit. For example: “I love you, Dad, and I always will, but you are going to have to accept who I am some day if we’re going to have a happy relationship. I’m not going to change, but I will always love you regardless.” This kind of compassion is hard when you just want to make someone you love GET IT right this very minute.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

One of the best pieces of advice in your book is “it’s okay to decline to answer.” I think it helps folks who read your book to understand that while you’ve made every effort to phrase the questions fairly and neutrally, not everyone’s ready to answer them.

And not everyone’s ready to hear those answers, either! It’s very good advice. I read the book in two sittings, and realized it’s a very Loooooong conversation if had all at once. People will do well to read it, and re-read it, with an idea about what to ask and answer when they want to.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 71

Yeah, and this sort of scattered thing means that there’s room for lots of gossip and not a lot of getting down to it. You do have to use the tools you have, though. For example, I’m having a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but I am also seeing how I can use it to gently present some new ideas to other people in my life. Pictures of my partner and me on vacation together, my thoughts for the day. It’s not the deepest thing in the world but it has a way of normalizing what might have seemed alien before.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Oh yeah — that’s the main message in the book. If you’re going to ask and answer all 108 questions you’re going to be there a long time. It’s more of a prompting book — the questions are there to let you know that it is actually OK to ask those questions, or perhaps that there is a question you didn’t know you had until you saw it in black and white. But the main point is to push a little at your comfort zone while respecting your limits. Above all, only have this conversation if it comes from a place of love and respect. The agreement can come later.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 75

It’s always important to know what you’re comfortable sharing and with whom. If in doubt, don’t put yourself out there.

Jane Hamsher July 16th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Welcome, Abby!

Thanks so much for writing this.

So Mike Rogers says there’s no such thing as a “bi” man, because you never see a guy stepping out on his male lover to be with a woman. Always bite my tongue before asking that.

Advice?

;)

BevW July 16th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Abby, Teddy, Have you found that just opening the door to a conversation, without really asking the “questions” – the LGBT opens up and tells everything anyway? It is nice to have someone to talk to.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Going back to the support from our straight leaders…OK, that one is lagging, but it’s better than it used to be. I just gotta point out, however, that it was people like Gavin Newsom in SF and Olson and Boies (the anti-Prop-8 attorneys) who really took on the mantle of gay rights at some risk to their own reputations. Just giving credit where credit is due — this kind of stuff just wasn’t happening 10 years ago. I’d like to see much more of it and I don’t give our leaders a pass for staying silent on our rights.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

One thing I also want to emphasize is that while this book is likely very useful in the coming-our process, Abby’s written something that can be used by old gays like me, too. I plan to send a copy to my mom, because while I think we’ve covered most of the bases, there might be some things she wants to ask and doesn’t know how.

It’s just that good.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 77

Ooh, the down low going the other way! Well, I personally can’t speak too much to the private life of a bi man, but I’m going to have to say that I think there are a lot more of them than you’d probably guess. Anyone else have a thought?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to BevW @ 78

Yeah, I think just letting people in our lives know that we really are OK with fielding a few questions is a lovely thing to do. They won’t always take you up on it, but it helps get rid of any sense that this is by definition a “private” conversation. That’s an assumption a lot of people make — that they are prying by asking about our lives as LGBT people.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thanks! I appreciate that. I hoped that this book would act like a permission slip to really talk with the people we care about. So it’s nice to hear that you’re thinking along those lines.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 79

Our so-called liberal media deserves some of the blame today, too. I mean: why NOT give Fred Karger, anti-Prop-8 crusader and lifelong gay Republican, a place in the presidential debates? He’s polling higher than some of the people — cough, Santorum — who don’t hold public office anymore, and he’d certainly make the debates more lively than they are.

It seems to me our media plays a very strict role in showing what lines can be colored in and what can’t. Even Mike Rogers only gets airtime on MSNBC when they hope he might spill the (non-existent) beans on Marcus Bachmann.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 82

One of the ways I like to open the door when I think someone has questions to ask about me is just to proceed in talking about my life as if it’s no big deal. It actually isn’t a big deal most of the time (really, in fact my life is quite boring most days!), and the best way to demonstrate that is to speak as frankly about my totally mundane daily life in the same matter-of-fact tones as any straight person would talk about theirs. It’s an easy way to get right past the stigma and fear around the issue.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Teddy and welcome Abby. Does your book ever touch on transgender issues?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 81

I think there are a lot of gay men married to a woman who perform satisfactorily enough with their wife to fool lots of folks (including, sadly, her) but who, in a perfect world, would be with their boyfriend or looking for one.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Well, I wish our media would actually do its job and call people out on the statements they put out as facts. The lack of background reporting in the news just drives me nuts. What happened to journalism?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 82

Yes!

I remember getting angry at my mom one time, when I said, “But you never ask about anything we do!” She replied, horrified, “Well, I certainly don’t want ANY details of what you DO!”

I said, “No, mom, like did you go to the movies or who came to that dinner party you were so excited about or where are you going on vacation this year. THAT kind of what-are-you-doing, not the private kind!”

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Yes, I’ve tried to include a lot of specific trans issues, but I have not held out this book as anything definitive for trans issues, mostly because I’m not as knowledgeable on those questions. This is why I didn’t put “trans” in the title — I didn’t want to hold myself out as an expert when I’m just not. I’m sure there were many more questions I could have added about trans stuff specifically.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Male or female, it is extremely unfair and harmful to a partner for someone in denial to marry just to “prove” their heterosexuality whether they need to prove it to themselves or the world at large. in my opinion, there aren’t to many actions that are more selfish.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Yeah — that’s the sex part of things. The idea that sex is part of being gay as much as sex is part of being straight just really stumps people. As I say in the book, you probably don’t want to know the details of ANYBODY’s sex life, straight or LGBT. Ya know?

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Margaret @ 91

That is, I”m afraid, what a lot of the anti-gay religious messages are doing to people — causing them to have have to prove their heterosexuality.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 90

I think that was in response to Margaret at 86, but I’d like to add that Abby specifically hopes someone will write a companion volume. There are so many questions I get asked — and I’m no expert — about transgender issues that I try to answer the best I can. But we all really need a book like yours just for transgender. I really hope someone will write that book, Abby.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I’m not sure why so many heteros think that being LGB or T is nothing but some kind of hedonistic sex fest. As shocked as the homophobes pretend to be at the very thought of gay sex, they sure seem to have given it a great deal of thought. NOT to imply that your mom is a ‘phobe though Teddy.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 93

I have met so many people who have caused incredible harm to themselves and others just because they feel they have to try to be straight. I’ve also met a few people who were actually bi, but felt they couldn’t be honest about that and so continued identifying as gay or lesbian — of course this is a different struggle in some ways. Still, trying to be something you’re not in such a core aspect is such a destructive waste of energy and spirit.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 92

Well, I currently have a teensy-weensy urge to know exactly what goes on behind closed doors in the Bachmann bedroom, but that’s just my prurience and I’m sure I’ll never know….

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I do too — I had the honor of meeting Rikki Wilkins, a well-known trans activist, many years ago at a conference. I told her straight out that i really didn’t know much about trans issues and she said, “Well, I’ve got some time — ask me anything you want.” And she meant it, so I did. This was such a generous act and I appreciated her willingness not to make me feel like a fool as I asked what I’m sure where some silly questions. Still, I wanted to know the answer and I’m forever grateful that she gave me the time and space to ask. That experience also informed QQST — I hope we can all be that generous and kind with one another.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Oh honey, you and me both…

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 99

I mean, I didn’t know Liberace’s hairdresser was still in business until I saw a picture of Marcus Bachmann.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Margaret @ 95

The prurient and clinical interest in graphic details from the tighty-righty talibangelicals has always been a big red flag for me. Why, George Rekers even took a rent-boy along with him to Europe to carry his luggage and be counseled out of his lifestyle! Imagine the sacrifice Rekers made, paying another whole airfare just so that young man could get person-to-person anti-gay Xtian counseling during full-body massage.

Is there nothing they won’t do for their ministry??

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 93

I’m hep. I was under enormous pressure to marry, even, (and especially), after I had “come out”. I resisted by removing myself from my family’s influence for almost twenty years. I always, (and this goes back to my childhood when I first heard the term transsexual), considered it the height of irresponsibility to marry in order to show the world that I was just as hetero as they demanded I be. I mean, come on….I knew it wouldn’t last and though I think that I would have otherwise been an excellent parent, I would never create human beings who would necessarily be caught in the fallout of the inevitable collapse of the charade I was engaged in just to take some of the social pressure off of myself.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I think that many straights were introduced to gay issues by ‘rainbow flamboyance’…..and didn’t know what to think. And I do think there was some negative pushback. I’ve known many gays over the years on a personal level, and even I was kind of off-put by some of the flamboyance. I think there are many more representatives now .. and I hope that helps. Dan Choi and the others mentioned in this thread are, I think, helping the general populace to get real. The Fundamentalists, however, are going whackadoodle right now, and that is NOT helping!

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 100

LMAO!

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

The commitment is astounding. This kind of stuff is so tragic. I want to be angry at the hypocrisy, yet I also have to feel so sad that people are this conflicted in their lives. Look at Ted Haggard. I believe he is a genuinely decent guy, but what an unnecessarily excruciating journey he’s been on — and he’s dragged his wife, his congregation, his various hook-ups, all along with him. I can’t think this was a calculated choice, but rather a desperate struggle for a sense of self and feeling loved.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Dearie @ 103

Well, there is a certain amount of flamboyance in the hetero community too. Bachmann herself is an over the top, stereotypical representation of what conservatives think womanhood should be. And look at males like Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent. If that isn’t flamboyance, I don’t know what is. Just sayin’.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to Margaret @ 95

Yes, it was as if she had to wall off all of our lives in order not to come into contact with any of the ick part. She’s come a long way; this conversation was a long time ago. I’ve been very lucky that my parents always tried to make an effort to include my partner(s) in our family’s life, and have candidly waved me off when they thought extended family might make life tough for me or my partner.

The hardest part for them to understand has been the trading-in for a new model; I’m a long-time serial monogamist who dislikes being single, so replacement happens quickly.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Dearie @ 103

I think a lot of people have a hard time understanding when they only see these over-the-top images of LGBTs at Pride, etc. It’s hard to explain that when you’ve been keeping it all tightly under wraps, sometimes coming out happens in a big colorful whoosh! How do you convey that we’re not wanting to rub anyone’s face in it, but simply celebrating our freedom.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 105

No, I don’t believe it was a calculated choice but it was, in my opinion, a perfectly predictable outcome that any reasonably intelligent person could and should have foreseen.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to Margaret @ 102

That was exactly the decision I made (twice!) about marrying a woman. It just seemed like there were so many storm clouds ahead that little innocent lives didn’t deserve to have to weather. Let alone the lovely women in the equation.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to Margaret @ 106

Good point — we only notice the flamboyance that’s different, not our own! I mean, drag queens aren’t the only ones into hairspray.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Margaret @ 106: I’m with you on that! I just think that it’s easier for straights to say, “I’m not like those assholes” and feel completely comfortable. But if they don’t know that they know gays (or pretend to themselves that they don’t), then it’s confusing. And I often wonder if my generation would have been better seerved if Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter and dozens of others who were actually living rather “normal” lives, would have risked coming out. Ah, well…..timing is everything, I guess. And thanks, Abby, for this fine book.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 108

How do you convey that we’re not wanting to rub anyone’s face in it, but simply celebrating our freedom.

Very well put. I was certainly extremely off putting at first and risked alienating the only people who initially expressed their support. I wasn’t trying to be in your face but hey, after a lifetime in prison, wanting to spread your wings a bit do a little flying is natural.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 108

It always baffles me about the Pride parades: who straps these unwanting straight people into their televisions with the remote controls out of reach so that they have to watch all the leathermen and bears and twinkies and flamenco boys without surcease?

Turn.
It.
Off.

And worse yet, sometimes they are actually dragged to the parade itself and superglued to the curb, unable to leave!

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 111

I’ve got lots more problems with those parents who turn their little girls into Jon Benet Ramsey than they will ever have with my leather daddy self.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Yeah, but what they never show on TV about Pride is the PFLAG folks or the gay cops, or anything like that. TV doesn’t like to show what is normal, just freaky. I love my freaks, of course, don’t get me wrong, but I also know that the complete picture rarely gets shown on TV.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Curse you gay agenda and commercial adhesives!

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Yep! Me too! The Ramseys may not have been guilty of murder but they were undeniably guilty of child abuse and exploitation. Those pageants are abominable.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Dearie @ 112

Thank you! I remember when I cam out there were NO images of happy gay people except for Quentin Crisp, who was lovely in his way. FInally Rolling Stone magazine did an article called something like “America’s Gay Women,” which was all about how there were actual lesbians who looked like you and me. That was it — I knew what I was. Thank you Rolling Stone magazine. I actually bought the issue on Ebay recently for old time’s sake.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 116

The one banner our local SF station ALWAYS cut away from was the Stop AIDS Project. It was a huge banner, the width of Market Street, that simply said PLEASE FUCK SAFELY. With lots of shirtless boys throwing condoms and lube to the crowd.

Apparently, that was a dangerous message.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 119

I am thrilled that there are now more and more out public figures to give people some reflection of themselves. And of course this is only a fraction of how many LGBT people there actually are in positions of prominence. Every little bit helps.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

But a good one!

BevW July 16th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Abby, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with is discussing your new book and LGBT issues.

Teddy, Thank you very much for a great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Abby’s website and book

Teddy’s website

Sunday’s Book Salon
Garrett Graff – The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror
Hosted by Cynthia Kouril

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism. You can join HERE.

Thanks all,
Have a great evening!

Kelly Canfield July 16th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Yep – can’t have a bunch of happy fucking queens all over the place now, can we? :)

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

We are still a prudish country, sadly, and I wish we had a little more of a pragmatic attitude about such things. In Europe, for example, they don’t shy away from safe sex messages or the reality the people of all stripes are actually having sex. In the US, we grapple with this reality a lot more. And then we get things like “The Bachelor” on TV, which seems to me to be much more of a threat to traditional marriage than, say, same-sex marriage. But maybe that’s me.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thank you guys for a fun conversation! I need to hang out here more often…

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 116

Co-hosting, with Miss Donna Sachet, this year’s SF Pride Parade was my friend, long-ago Mr International Leather Sergeant Lenny Broberg of the SFPD. We need more cops in police service, and Lenny’s a wonderful example. I was proud of the teevee station for putting him on.

We’ve got to move America’s viewpoint out of the stereotypical employment categories and that means more cops, firefighters, miners, Congressmen, accountants, Realtors™, scuba divers, scientists, and teachers need to come out.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Americans seem to be obsessed with sex….while also being repulsed and frightened by it. Crazy folks, all in all. I’d like the agenda to focus on families and kids and stability and just regular living.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 126

Thank you Abby. I think you would be most welcome.

Ehrenstein47 July 16th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’M STILL BEING BLOCKED FROM POSTING IN HERE — WHAT IN SAM HILL IS GOING ON?

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to Margaret @ 118

I like to think of all the conversations those pageant parents are going to have, using Abby’s book as a starting point: “Mom, this is my girlfriend Molly. We’re lesbians.”

joelmael July 16th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Question probably no good answer. Good friend of several years is out to me but as far as I know no one else in the het world. He has a story of ex wife, children, etc. for public consumption, all imaginary, in which he relates events to me from time to time as if they were happening I don’t say anything just listen as if I believed it. His gay friends tell me he has never been married, has always lived gay. Question is should I ever tell him I know it’s all a story and he doesn’t need to do it for me? I have listened to these details for 4 or 5 years. Sometimes he slips up, which I ignore.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to Dearie @ 128

Yep — obsession is often the flip-side of fear. Go figure! But I’m with you. Good night, folks, and thanks again.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to Abby Dees @ 126

Thanks so very much for your time, Abby. Now that you’ve logged in here, you’ve also got an account over at our diary venue, MyFDL. Please feel free to comment anywhere and drop by there when you’ve got more thoughts to share! We’d love to have you back anytime, and we’ll check in at your site as well.

Thank you.

Dearie July 16th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Abby, you were a wonderful responder……and I’m with Teddy, please post when you have ideas and thoughts that will continue to educate and inform us. Nice work here today.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
In response to joelmael @ 132

Question is should I ever tell him I know it’s all a story and he doesn’t need to do it for me? I have listened to these details for 4 or 5 years. Sometimes he slips up, which I ignore.

Only you can answer that question. I don’t think your friend will be pissed though. Probably relieved.

Abby Dees July 16th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
In response to joelmael @ 132

I said goodnight, but this is a heck of a questions you’ve got there. This is such a sad story — have you ever asked him simply why he does this? You say he is out to you, so it seems to me that you have some permission to call him on the fiction if so. But if he’s not out…I have no idea what to say about that, other than it’s tragic that he feels a need to put so much energy into a lie. I would, if you do ask him, do it with as much compassion as you can muster. Obviously there is so much pain and fear behind this.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
In response to joelmael @ 132

My advice would be to ask him if you could spend some time with his friends. Sometimes seeing the different parts of our world integrated makes it easier to drop some of the pretense we thought was necessary. If he sees you as accepting and enjoying the company of his gay friends, the need for the fictional past may fade away.

Conversely, when he ‘slips up’ maybe you could just ask, “Wait, I’m confused….” and see where he goes from there.

Teddy Partridge July 16th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Great Book Salon, thanks to all.

CTuttle July 16th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Mahalo, Teddy and Abby for the great book salon…! *g*

joelmael July 16th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I have been to Sunday breakfast with 2 or 3 of his gay friends off and on for for several years. Thing is, I am pretty sure even they don’t know the extant of the stories, so I hesitate to ask them. For example I have mention ex wife’s name and they don’t know her. Also many instances of one or the other came to town but always an explanation why I don’t get to meet them. It’s so elaborate, I am nervous ab out bringing it up. Seems it would be so embarrassing for him to admit after all this time.

joelmael July 16th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Oh, I have said I’m confused. Once several years ago I said to him “I didn’t used to believe you” about wife and kids. Actually for a time I did buy it but too many slips since plus some actual evidence.

Margaret July 16th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
In response to joelmael @ 141

Whatever you do, please be careful. Abby is right: There is evidently a lot of pain there. Trust your comfort zone.

joelmael July 16th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
In response to Margaret @ 143

Yeah, I’m carefull maybe best to just go along. I did ask him this year if he ever thought about coming out. Brushed it aside. Didn’t seem like a subject he wanted to continue. Thanks for the advice.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post