Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe - Part IV

My dear readers, you've been patient with my long story of recovery. If you care to read them, you will find links to the previous posts here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

At the end of Part III, I had just returned from a week in luxury in a southwestern city with gay friends of my sister. I called my visit with R. and H. an intervention, because I was immersed in gay society in that city. It was a life-changing experience.

Upon returning home, decompression was in order to facilitate my return to ordinary, everyday life.

R. and H. and I kept in touch sporadically through occasional email exchanges. What I did not know while I was with them is that they had been having relationship problems for some time. Several months after my visit, R. and H. split up. They had been together for 15 years, and the break-up was wrenching on both sides. After the split, I pretty much lost touch with H.

What I have not mentioned is that R. was a Republican political strategist and lobbyist. Now I have never been able to understand how a gay man or a lesbian can be a Republican. Pardon me if you read this, and you are a gay or lesbian Republican, but I don't get it at all. All I've been able to come up with regarding R., is that he cries about the gay-bashing of the Republican Party all the way to the bank.

In the months after returning home, I learned more specifics about the activities of T.'s companies. Every cause for which he lobbied and strategized, I was diametrically opposed to. I opposed every candidate in whose campaigns his companies were involved. Often the campaigning took a very low road, an appallingly low road. Frankly, I was shocked. I'm not naive enough to think that only Republicans do dirty campaigning. Democrats do it, too. The fact is that I was never personally acquainted with anyone who engaged in the activity.

Some of my good will towards R. faded. On the one hand, he dearly loved my sister, and he had done me a great favor by welcoming me royally into his home and his life, despite knowing that I had been reluctant to get too close to his - shall I say it? - "manner of life". I couldn't forget that. I couldn't forget that my stay at his house was transformational for me in a very good way.

I thought I wouldn't be seeing R. again soon, so I put the political machinations out of my mind. He was, after all, not the only one doing that kind of stuff. R. never talked about his business nor about politics while I was around. Never. I now understood why. One would need to be discreet about that sort of activity. And he knew I was a Democrat.

In the spring of 2004, my sister and brother-in-law and several gay friends who had birthdays near the same date as my sister decided to celebrate in New Orleans. My sister and BIL planned to visit us for one day during this quick trip.

A few weeks before the trip to New Orleans, my sister called and told me that R. wanted to come to my home with her and my BIL and bring his new partner N. I said, "Fine." After talking to her, I thought to myself, "How am I going to get through this visit, knowing what I know about R.'s political activities?" Poor R.; first I have a problem because he's gay, and now because he's a Republican strategist, working for causes I despise. In the midst of my fretting, I remembered St. Benedict words, "All visitors should be welcomed as Christ." Well, that settled it for me; no more fretting. I had the answer to my dilemma. My husband was not exactly thrilled to hear about the visit, but he went along.

Since ours is an empty nest, and we have not moved to a smaller house, we have bedrooms to spare. Our guests arrived, and I introduced R., and we met N., who was a absolute dear. I took them upstairs to unload their luggage and showed them the rooms and told them to sort themselves out wherever they chose. When I came back downstairs, my husband asked me who was sleeping where. I said that R. and N. had chosen our daughter's old room. He said, "That has a queen bed in it." I said, "Yes. Which room did you want them in? The one with the twin beds?" He laughed.

That evening at dinner, my sister decreed that we were not to talk politics, which was probably a good thing. My sister and BIL were both Republicans and Bush supporters. They got their news from Fox and loved Bill O'Reilly. We'd had a number of heated discussions on politics, Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly, but we found that we had to limit them, because they tended to become too hot.

During dinner, I did manage to sneak in one political question. I asked N. if he was a Bush admirer. He said, "No, I am not." I said, "Yes!" End of conversation. There we were three Democrats and three Republicans, equal in number, but no talk of politics. Once, when N. got up to help me carry things into the kitchen, we were whispering to each other about politics, so as not to disobey my sister's orders, and we heard her call out, "We hear you." Before the visit was over, N. and I managed to sneak in a few more conversations about politics.

All went well during the visit. We took them on a boat ride on the bayou and to lunch at a beautiful plantation house, and then they were off to the celebrations in New Orleans, where (God bless her) my sister managed to break her foot in the French Quarter on the uneven brick sidewalks.

That's my recovery story. Any who have stayed with me are most patient readers.

UPDATE: I spoke to R. on the phone today, and he told me that he had changed his voter registration from Republican to Independent. I told him that I was pleased. 4-23-07

15 comments:

  1. Mimi.

    That's a great story. All of it. But you gave me a fright -- I thought I'd missed parts IV and V. (vbg)
    I wondered what was up with the luxurious lifestyle you described in Part III.

    Allen

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  2. An amazing story from an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing the beauty of your honesty.

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  3. Morningsider, I reversed the letters. I never was good with Roman numbers. I will do an edit.

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  4. Elizabeth, thank you. You know that we southerners love to tell our stories. The story is amazing. As I was writing it, I thought to myself that it sounded made-up, however, it is true. I even resisted the temptation to add little embellishments.

    Morningsider, I am thankful that this is a four-parter, rather that a six-parter. I don't know if I would have made it through six. Thanks for your kind words and your gentle correction.

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  5. I'll look forward to the sequel : God delivers Mimi from Republicanphobia.

    Remember, with God, ALL things are possible.

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  6. KJ, will I have to undergo another intervention? In my town, I am already immersed in Republicans.

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  7. Thank goodness you were not delivered from your political beliefs -- yikes.

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  8. A beautiful account, Mimi.

    I sometimes wonder how people get their political attitudes, too.

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  9. Mimi - You are da bomb! The WOMAN!!!

    (And, I don't want to be cured from Republicanophobia...ever.)

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  10. No need to worry about a political conversion for me. I've seen enough of the rough side of the Republican Party to last a lifetime - which, of course, may not be all that long since I'm 72.

    Y'all, my commenters, are da bombs.

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  11. Quite the interesting story. I have always felt that even the most homophobic person has serious trouble remaining homophobic when they are confronted with someone they really like who can break their misconceptions. I had that real experience with my fraternity brothers in college. They didn't like gays, but I was "ok." Eventually they came around.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a wonderful journey down and sharing it with the rest of us.

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  12. Mike, it's knowing people, listening closely to what they say, and hearing their stories that can make the difference, and not just with GLTB folks, but with anyone who is "different".

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  13. Mimi,

    Quite right. Now if we could get those pesky Israelis and Palestinians to sit down and listen to each other...

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  14. Grandma Mimi,
    I just found your blog this week and love it and you. You're on my must read list now. Thank you for your story of your spiritual journey. It's very inspiring. I have just added you to my list of "women I want to be when I grow up" ;) God bless you.
    Toni

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