I have just watched a wonderful film entitled ‘The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin’ on Netflix. We share a close number of summers, a once off Twitter exchange, and fathers who did not see us in the first 10 months of our lives…..I have always admired his writing. Today the film reminded me of my coming out to my mother and father. The film told of Maupin’s coming out and also that of Sir Ian McKellen, moving stuff.
For me in the Winter of 1970 it was in a beige living/dining room in the outer suburb of Mulgrave, Victoria…I was ‘spending time’ with an older Jewish man, and it was at his apartment that night, in Balaclava, that I rang my mother to tell her all that she had intimated for many years was true, yes I was homosexual.
‘Do you want me to drive over now?’ “Yes , she said”
I asked my friend if I could borrow his car after telling him of the mother son telephone conversation. He was happy to offer a small sedan which I drove across the South East Suburbs to the second family home I had experienced. It was a new display home and mum and dad had bought it after our two bedroom brick home in Murrumbeena became to small for the four of us. It had gold taps, fake, marble basins, fake, colonial windows, fake, I think you get the picture…
Mother was always enthroned, on a green velvet lounge chair…she was not yet 50 years of age, but elegant, coifed, scarved, and with a distinctive bearing. She was alone, which was somewhat odd at that time of night as my father would usually be home at this time. The air was filled with the tension of a tight rope. I was 25 years old, a teacher, and had been living a homosexual life for the past 4 years. There was only ever innuendo from my mother, not a word from my father, an officer and a gentleman, yet distant and cold.
Words fell from both our mouths, muddled and murky. ‘Your father is not home yet’ Her response to our face to face coming out was along the lines of ‘ I think I am having a heart attack’. But it gets better…. My father finally comes through the back door of the three bedroom pseudo colonial Mulgrave house on a small block of land opposite The Village Green Hotel. ‘Sorry hon, you have got no idea the problem I have had with the car” as he lurched into the kitchen with his two bottles of beer wrapped in the Evening copy of The Herald. My mother, as was her won’t, responded promptly “You have had a problem with your car, your son has just come home to tell us he is homosexual!’
Most of what ensued is a blur, I don’t recall if I stayed the night in my old room, or where was my 10 years younger brother, or did I drive home to the older man who had kindly offered me his car for this significant Tearto Della Famiglia evening…..
I remember it with a touch of humour, sadness, confusion, maturation, the whole enchilada I guess……My thanks to a writer whom I greatly admire for your film, your books, your life, all of which have prompted me to continue writing……it is where I am happy, and exhausted at the same time
In Memento Mori : Bob Blakeley and Marie Blakeley