My own version of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy

Luis Bahena

When I get home from spending the day with my mother, I feel relieved. What I remember the most from hanging out with her is the arguing, that is if she didn’t stand me up.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good relationship with my mother (now), but a few years ago, things were not so pleasant. Still, my single mother who emigrated over from Mexico when she was 17, did a good job at raising me.

She ruled with an iron fist. She was tough on us when we were kids. Raising three boys as a single mother, she had to be. My oldest brother is 9 years older than me, while my younger brother is 5 years younger.

I got stuck in the middle, and although people always say that the middle child has it tough, I had it a little tougher . Not just because I was the middle child, but for other reasons as well.

See, I always theorized that the reason why the middle child had it rough was because parents are always busy with the older sibling, while having to keep an eye on the younger one. The middle one usually tends to just get lost in the middle.

For me though, my troubles began when I started coming out of my shell as a gay . How can I say it . Kid . Teenager . Man . Person? How about as my mother puts it, as “a gay.”

I remember trying to tell her a couple times when I was younger. Once in seventh grade, later on during the ninth grade and again when I was 18.

The first time I told her she told me it was just a phase, to not think about it and that it will pass. The second time we were in the car and she smacked me over my head telling me that it’s still a phase. I knew better however, so when I was 18 I decided to leave.

When I told her at 18 we had one of our biggest arguments. Words were exchanged, slaps were received (by me), and I just couldn’t handle it anymore, so I left. We didn’t talk for over a year.

When we finally spoke again, we talked, albeit more civilly, and I just put things on the table. She wasn’t happy about it, and she told me that she still doesn’t like the idea of me being gay, but that she was my mother and I her son and that she loves me still.

In a way, we put my gay agenda on the side and went on with our lives. Our relationship got a lot better quick, yet I always felt like there was this “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Only in my case it was more of a “don’t ask because I ain’t going to tell” kind of policy.

It borders on ignorance in a way, and you know what they say, “ignorance is bliss.” Only now that both my brothers have children, she is constantly asking me when will I get married and have kids.

At first, two years ago when my older brother had his first kid, my niece Elizabeth, she wasn’t asking as much, and I would play it off by saying something like, “I’m not going to have kids,” just to get her off my back.

In January however, my older brother and his wife had another child, my nephew Noah. Then in February, my younger brother and his high school girlfriend had their first child, my niece Darlah.

The questions began again, only this time they were more and more frequent. Every time I saw my mother she would ask, “When are you going to get married with a nice girl and have kids?”

At first I just shrugged it off like I did the first time two years ago. But then she kept on asking me so frequently that it was all she asked whenever she saw me. Perhaps it’s just me, but I found it disrespectful that my mother would completely disregard my sexual orientation by continuing to ask me when I was going to get married with a “nice girl.”

The kid part doesn’t bother me so much because I feel that I would like to have kids one of these days (very likely just one). It’s the “nice girl” part that really upsets me the most.

I understand that she isn’t happy about my orientation, and I know her and I will never have a conversation about who I date and how I live my life, but for her to completely disregard it and push her marriage with a “nice girl” idea began to irritate me.

I almost told her once that I would get married and have kids when they legalize gay marriage in California. But that would’ve brought up the whole Prop 8 issue again and how she was one of the many who voted yes on Prop 8.

It’s hard when you can’t talk to your parents about this kind of stuff. It’s difficult when they don’t support you for who you are (or what you do with your life). Adding their disregard of a big part of your life makes it all that harder.

Perhaps we’ll never meet eye to eye, and maybe she’ll never get past it, but maybe our own version of the “don’t ask don’t tell” will eventually be revisited. Until that happens, I don’t know what I can do to stay afloat. All I know is that she is my mother and I her son. Besides, isn’t it better to have a good relationship over none?