16 March 2011

Family Jitters

So, with everything going on in the world lately, I somehow still feel kind of weird being nervous about spending time with my brother and his family in the next few weeks.  I mean, I haven't really spent any time with him in years, and I am always so nervous about his opinion of me.  I am also nervous about meeting my niece (and soon to be born nephew!)  I wonder what, if anything, she knows about me...I am pretty sure she knows I exist, but other than that, I know nothing.

I am also wondering what my going to Kansas says about me politically.  I have a pretty strict personal standard about not spending any of my 'gay money' in any state that does not legally recognize any relationship I may have. This policy has kept me away from many people I know and love on more than one occasion.  In this instance, I am making a huge exception.  Not only am I going to Kansas, I am making stops in Alabama and Georgia on the way.  All three of these states pose a moral dilemma for me.  How can I reconcile my personal beliefs about spending money in non-GLBT friendly states with my need to see my family?  Better question-since not seeing my family is really not a permanent option, how do I ensure that I am spending responsibly on the rare occasions when I do have to go to an unfriendly state?  I mean, I already boycott Target, Wal-Mart, BP, Texaco, and numerous other companies that do not provide GLBT Domestic Partner or Spousal Benefits to employees.  I pretty much only fly on American Airlines, which has an industry leading record for offering benefits to GLBT employees (unfortunately, I was unable to use them on this trip.) I pore over the HRC Buying Guide each year, and focus my consumer dollars on companies that rate well there.  I do not watch American Idol, or other Fox Network TV shows because of the conservative and anti-gay standings of the network that they are on.  How much more should/could I possibly do?  Is it fair to punish my family for being happy where they are by withdrawing my presence from their lives in order to stand on principle?

Granted, in the now 12 years I have lived in NYC, my grandmother, my brothers and one of my sisters, my aunt, and uncles, and many other family members haven't bothered to come see me either.  That NYC is expensive is simply not an excuse when you take into consideration that they ALL know my sofa bed is theirs for the asking.  I have lived alone for 6 years, so they can't blame it on a room mate I don't have.  The only person with a get out of jail free card, proverbially speaking, is my Uncle Vincent, who is VIOLENTLY allergic to cats (I have 2) and my grandmothers, Louise, who is afraid of heights and bridges and is claustrophobic to the point of being unable to enter an elevator and Joann, who makes her presence in my life known in so many other ways that I feel she is here with me all the time.  Don't get me wrong, I like traveling, I like spending time out of NYC a few times a year (OK, make that like 5 times a year lately,)  and I adore my family.  But how far does loyalty to family take me when I am compromising my most sacred beliefs to see them?  My father who hates NYC, has been here three times (granted, I was in the hospital for two of them and the third was to move me back to FL-that lasted 90 days in 2003.)    My point in bringing this up is I pretty much despise Florida, yet am pressured into going down at LEAST two to three times per year.  I am slowly learning to look at it the way a tourist would, but spending time with my family is no picnic.  The logistics of seeing everyone who wants to see me, of doing what is 'expected' of me, and of trying to have some time to have fun with my friends usually send me back to NYC an inch from psychotic.  It takes me weeks to unwind and de-stress from being exposed to the constant fighting that is my Mom and Grandmother, or the constant criticism and lack of ability to let ANYTHING go from the latter.  While I know my Dad works a lot out of necessity, it would be nice to spend an entire day with him on occasion doing something fun, instead of meeting up at a restaurant on a highway somewhere when I am driving from Orlando to Miami.  I know better than to expect to see him on my turf, and pretty much have accepted that, despite the feeling of abandonment that comes with it.  One of my siblings and I talk about feeling like second class citizens within our own family often, and we both wonder if it is due to our sexuality.  The funny part about that is we are two of the three who have done almost everything on our own, have moved far away from the safety net, and still are criticized for every choice we make by those who know almost nothing about our lives.

There is a price to be paid for standing up for yourself and your principles.  Personally and professionally, politically and in relationships with friends and family.  Right now, my heart is in my throat, and I am allowing the love I have for my family and my need for their approval (yes I still want it) to push me to make decisions for me that I would normally never make.  I want to know my nieces and nephews, I miss my brother desperately, despite of frequent differences of opinion on so many subjects.  Maybe the jitters I am experiencing are normal.  Then again, what is normal anyway?  All I know is I am a few short days away from getting on a plane and heading off into the undiscovered (by me) country.  Will it be worth the nerves and facing my HORRIBLE fear of flying?

Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment