|Brother's Thanksgiving Photo 2014|
Well, you all know the old adage that "the holidays are the saddest time of the year" for many. That is the time of the year suicides spike up. This condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Certain people may feel anxious of depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder.
The winter holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving, for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. But for many people, it is a time filled with sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.
I have to say that for most of my life I have been rather immune to SAD. However, yesterday, perhaps for the first time I did feel a wave of sadness and loneliness wash over me.
As is usual for me, I worked at my front desk job at the hotel. I've been doing this for about thirteen years now. In the past I've been so busy with my job that I didn't have time to sit and reflect on the "family" part of the holiday. I was content to enjoy the "family" part of the holiday (Thanksgiving this time) by watching other families interact.
So yesterday I was doing fine until I came across the photo at the top of this post. It was posted by my niece to her Facebook page. It is of her father (my brother) and her brother (my nephew) and her two children. When I saw this photo for probably the first time in my life (that I can remember) I felt that Wave of sadness and loneliness. Perhaps I shouldn't be writing about something as personal as this (no names lest I further embarrass members of my family) but this is how I felt then and how I feel now. So I'm not exempt.
Why do I feel this way? I'm estranged from both of my brothers and their families. This event happened last year when Bill and I got married. I sent out Christmas cards with our marriage photo on it.
|Our wedding day July 2013 (on our 49th anniversary)|
I did it on purpose, not only to announce our wedding to my family and friends but also to see who my friends were and who were not.
This action on my part was very similar to what I did in the spring of 1963 when I came out as a gay man to everyone I knew. I didn't want to live a lie and I wanted to sort out my true friends. At that time I lost well over half of my "friends" and became temporarily estranged from my family.
Ironically it was a Thanksgiving dinner that brought back some kind of rapprochement with my family. After my coming out (party), I lost contact with my family for about two years. Then on Thanksgiving 1967 my Mother contacted me when I was living with Bill in Pennsauken, New Jersey. She asked me to come to Thanksgiving dinner. I thought about her invite and told her I would only come if Bill (who she had not met at that time) could come with me. She relented and Bill and I had our first of many Thanksgiving dinners with my family.
|Bill and my parents - 1975|
Ironically Bill and my Mother became very good friends as he did with my father. But what I didn't realize at that time, I was living a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" existence. They knew we were gay, just don't advertise it. We were . . . . tolerated.
Then came last year when I sent out the infamous Christmas card with our wedding photo plastered all over the front. Apparently that did it. Even with my other brother.
So how do I feel about this folks? Sad for sure but you know what? I either have to be accepted for who I am, legally wedded and out Big Time, or not.
I don't think I'll ever see my brothers again or their families. Not that I don't love my brothers, I do. But they and their families have a different view on marriage than I do and I will no longer be discounted as a human being because I am gay and had the audacity to get married . . . .and publicly and proclaim it. How dare I?
|My brother, me and Bill 2012|
Of course I realize that my brothers and their families are very conservative. The "conservative" that hates Obama and everything about Democrats. THAT conservative. The conservative that says "You're okay to be gay just don't SHOVE it in our faces" (like getting married publicly, i.e., embarrass us)."
Hey, I don't mind that they are conservative, we're all entitled to our own deeply held views and I respect that. What I don't respect is anyone, especially family trying to put me into a box of their convenience. It isn't going to happen folks. Not with me, not at this time or ever.
So of course it was with an unexpected sadness that I saw those happy faces of some of my family yesterday. I have to admit I was even surprised by my reaction. Oh I'm sure some of my blog readers will urge me to "reconcile" but you know what folks? On this I'm not compromising. I've compromised for most of my life on who I am just to make others feel comfortable, especially family. I'm at the age now where, on some things, especially on who I am, I don't compromise any more.
So until I receive a "Congratulations Uncle Ronnie on your marriage to Bill", I will remain the gay uncle who used to take the family pictures at the holidays. Sad, isn't it?
|My family and our first holiday (Christmas) picture when Bill met them - 1969 (Bill took the picture, Bill was never in the holiday pictures because he was "just my friend" and didn't qualify as a spouse)|