Friday, December 20, 2013

Let Your Hearts Be Gay at Christmas

by Colleen Sutherland

Dear BFF and you know you are! Couldn't text a story this long and talking on the phone won't work until after Christmas, so I'm putting it all in an e-mail to you. Maybe I'll run over in a couple of days.

Kate, you wouldn't believe it. It was epic! Ma's gone mental and Pa is laughing. He knew all along, he says.

I knew it was going to happen. I got to the mailbox before Ma a week ago and opened up Luke's Christmas card. He wrote the whole thing down in a letter. I removed it before I showed the card to Ma. It's OK for him, but I didn't need to hear days of ranting. Let it be a surprise, I figured. I just told her Luke was coming home for Christmas and was bringing a friend he met in Boulder.

She went all sunshine and moonbeams. You know how she is. Her pet was coming home. She went straight to his room and cleaned it again, dusting all the furniture, and taping all the half naked Brad Pitt posters down where they were coming off the wall. The next day we had to announce the great news at the True Christian Community Church and they all rejoiced with lots of loud Hallelujahs and songs. It was so embarrassing. With my family, I'm surprised you hang with me at all.

Luke should graduate in June. Ma thinks that next he will go on to a seminary. All her life she thought he should become a preacher. She prays on it all the time. Maybe one of those big mega churches for him, she thought. He could even be a television preacher on the Trinity Network. “He is so handsome so presentable.” She thinks he would be so popular if he did that. Could happen, I suppose. Some of them are less than what they appear to be.

Ma did everything to give him a good start. We were home schooled, you know that. She kept anything educational out of our education. I knew the Bible back and forth before Pa finally told her to let me go to high school to meet some boys. He said I would never go to college like Luke, they couldn't afford that, so I might as well start meeting young men. Ma thought I would meet enough at the True Christian Community Church but the congregation is mainly silly old people and guys like Luke.

First day of the freshman year I met you and that made all the difference. You taught me how to dress. Of course, the clothes we got are all at your house so I can change on my way to school. Ma would be horrified if she saw them. Even more if she saw the tattoos, but as long as I wear good Christian clothes at home, she'll never see them. You also saved me from making a fool out of myself in science classes. It was the first time I even heard of evolution. And boy, have I evolved, thanks to you, BF.

By then, Luke was off to college. I don't know how he convinced Ma that Boulder was a good place to go. I think he said there was a good theological program there. If she ever got her nose out of those religious tracts she would have known better. After about a year, he stopped coming home, even for Christmas. He told her he had a job at a Christian book store. He sent her pictures of Jesus with eyes that moved for her birthday.

Once he was gone, Ma spent even more time praying and getting involved in politics, to make a better world for her grand-children she said. She read about that crazy church in Topeka, Kansas and talked about moving there so she could find me a husband. “No homos there,” she said. But Pa put his foot down. Ma sent them money anyhow and made friends with some of the congregation on Facebook. Weird. Gay marriage was a big issue in the True Christian Community Church so she talked about that after every service. She joined them on the picket line to protest gay commitment ceremonies, gay adoptions and gay rights in general. When she spotted me on TV in our pro-gay marriage picket line she was upset. I told her I was just keeping you company.

“Get better friends,” she said.

“When I go to college,” I said and told her I had been accepted at Boulder. Luke says I can stay with him for a while and I probably can get a grant.

The bigots failed and in September, gay marriage became legal in this state.

Yesterday morning Luke finally arrived. He was wearing a Christmas shirt that said, “Don we now our gay apparel.”

“I thought Hallmark changed that,” Ma said.

“I got it in Boulder,” he said.

He introduced his friend Kevin who was wearing a matching shirt. Then she saw the the back., a semi-naked Santa chasing an elf.

“We need to get you some more presentable clothes,” Ma said, searching for her purse.

While her back was turned, I whispered to Luke that she never got his Christmas card. He winked at me. “We'll straighten it out by tonight,” he said.

“Madonna next door is coming over for supper. She's bringing a friend for Kevin.” Ma went on to explain she wanted grand-children. She wasn't getting any younger.

She took all three of us down to the mall because the Christian book store had a sale on shirts that said, “Put Christ Back into Christmas.” They ran into trouble right away when she put her change in the Salvation Army pot. Kevin said he couldn't because the Sally Ann was anti-gay. Really? Ma said and threw in a five dollar bill.

Even worse, when they went into the Christian Book Store, the clerk said, “Happy Holidays!” Ma set her straight right there and huffed out the door. By then Kevin and Luke were slipping in and out of a wine shops for samples.

Luke insisted on going to Whole Foods for groceries, over Ma's objections. “Bunch of homos work there,” she told them.

“I see what you're up against,” Kevin said as they walked in the door.

“Ma, why don't you take a seat,” Luke said and plopped her on a bench. He gave her a notepad and pen. “You can count the homosexuals or something.”

We split up. Kevin and I found some interesting items while Luke ordered a cake at the bakery. When we got back to Ma's bench she had done her count. There were so many, neatly scored, that either Whole Foods had a lot more people working there than we thought or she was counting shoppers, too.
Last night, Kevin and Luke insisted on cooking Christmas Eve supper with their own spaghetti sauce. They sang Christmas carols with interesting verses added. Ma was too busy greeting Madonna and her friend to notice.

“Dinner's on,” the boys yelled. Ma sat down, explaining what a catch a man who could cook would be for Madonna. Madonna has lived next door for years. She didn't seem too hopeful of a future with Luke.

“What interesting pasta,” Ma said when we sat down to eat. “It looks like little flowers.”

“You're looking at them upside down,” said Luke.

“Oh,” she said. “That looks like...” She looked at Pa then turned bright red. Pa ate and told Kevin and Luke how good the sauce was.

It was even better when Luke brought out the cake, her favorite, German chocolate with white frosting and the words, “I'M GAY!!!!”

As Pa cut the cake, Luke and Kevin did a big old smoochy kiss, right there at the table.

Ma went into a crying jag, gulping out, “It can't be true!”

She tried to call the pastor at the True Christian Community Church but he was out of town. She tried to call the Deacon but he was preparing for the Rapture with his family. She just knew they were going to kick her out of the church if she didn't pray for a miracle right away. But if the Deacon as right about the Rapture, it might not matter.
All last night she talked to Luke about sin. She quoted Leviticus. She quoted Deuteronomy. She quoted until she ran out of passages (there aren't very many on the subject) then went around and quoted them again. She had read about a place in Minnesota where Luke could be cured. She wrote the internet site down and gave it to him.

In desperation, she took them all to the Methodist church down the block this morning.

“Let's all pray,”she said. “Let's pray the gay away.” The Methodist pastor ignored her prayer request and said he didn't have time for counseling just then. I think she can forget the Methodists. She said she would try the Assembly of God next Sunday.

Now she's in her room crying and praying. Pa is laughing and watching a football game on TV with Kevin and Luke while they drink the beer the guys bought.

I guess Ma will adjust eventually. Luke says they will be back in June for their wedding.

So Merry Christmas, my darling Kate.

I'm deleting this e-mail after I send it. Maybe you should do the same.

What do you think? Should we tell her about us at graduation?  

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