Slight paraphrase of a well known song there, but it came to me as I was doing the final proof-read of ‘The Power of Love’. I managed to get myself into the situation where I had a wonderful boyfriend/partner (Dave), all my friends knew I was gay, Dave’s grandparents and my grandparents knew I was gay, and my parents almost certainly knew too although I hadn’t told them myself. Back in Oxford UK from Tennessee, perhaps the time was right?
‘Actually, there’s something else I have to talk to you about.’ I gulped, gripping the edge of the sink, and then dived in with both feet. ‘The sooner the better.’
I felt my parents exchanging knowing glances behind my back. Now I was certain that I was in for a roasting. Oh, for a family like Dave’s!
‘Dave and I are more than just best friends. Much more. Since we first met, I, erm…’
I sensed I was about to gabble nonsense again, and took a deep breath instead, looking at their reflections in the kitchen window to try and gauge the reaction. My mother, bless her, threw me a lifeline.
‘He’s your boyfriend, isn’t he?’
I dropped my gaze to the washing-up water in the bowl, and answered almost in a whisper.
There was a silence, broken by my father.
‘Do you understand what you’re saying?’
Do I understand what I’m saying? Well of course I bloody do. The question is, do you?
‘I’m saying…’ I paused, and looked up, from one to the other. ‘I’m saying, yes, he’s my boyfriend. Yes, I love him. Yes, it means I’m…’
I couldn’t say it. The word stuck in my throat like a dry pebble. But Dave appeared behind them at the door and, overhearing, took over the situation in an instant.
‘It means that we are homosexual partners, Mr Cavanagh. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, or even horrifies you. But that is what nature has made me, and Tony…’ he used the full name!! – well, the full abbreviation, then – ‘… Tony shares the curse I’m afraid.’
Thank you Dave, oh thank you! Help me, babe!
There was a silence that seemed to last a thousand years. Then I asked the question I dreaded to ask, quietly and deliberately, but unable still to look them in the eye.
‘Would you prefer us to leave?’
My mother answered that question by turning me around, enveloping me in her arms, and bursting into tears.
‘No, of course not. Don’t be silly.’ This was my father. He turned to Dave.
‘Brian – er, your father – prepared us, of course. But I don’t think I fully believed him. Not until now.’ He turned back to me. ‘What took you so long to confess?’
Confess? Oh, come on, dad.
Dave intervened again. Oh Dave, you bloody marvellous guy, you!
‘He doesn’t have to “confess”, Mr Cavanagh. It’s what he is. It’s what we are. Both of us. Neither of us has done anything wrong, and so we don’t have anything to, er, confess.’
I sensed that he wanted to put his arms around me, but couldn’t bring himself to do it at that moment in front of my father. And, anyway, mum was in the way…
‘No. I see. But if Brian knew, why didn’t you tell us?’
‘Your reaction.’ I sounded sullen, even to myself, as well as muffled by my mother’s embrace. But it was true, I had anticipated his reaction exactly. ‘I expected it. I was afraid of it.’
‘And so there’ll be no grandchildren.’ This was my mother, still with her arms wrapped around me.
‘Don’t say that! We’re not suddenly incapable of being fathers,’ said Dave. ‘There’s lots of girls always looking for help – er, you know, sperm donation!’ Oh, thanks, Dave, for laying that clue for the future! And then, immediately, I wished he hadn’t.
My father choked a little, but he knew he was beaten. ‘Well, Mr David Anderton, I thank you for your honesty, even if my own son was scared to admit it to us. I suppose I should say something like, erm, welcome to the family.’ He stuck his hand out to Dave, rather awkwardly, who didn’t take it.
‘We still love you, dear, of course,’ said my mother, rather unhelpfully.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before,’ I said, wiping away a few tears. ‘I just couldn’t do it.’
‘You always were a sensitive one,’ she continued. ‘Brian told us all about how you were a lifeline for David when you first met.’
I was becoming tired of hearing this! ‘He told you everything, didn’t he?’
‘As good as. He asked for you to be allowed to stay in America. For David.’
God, I owe that man so much. There was a long and awkward silence, during which I sensed strongly that Dave wanted to sweep me up in his arms and carry me away…
OK, that’s enough. You get the idea. Didn’t play the best hand of cards there, did I? But, it is probably the hardest thing a gay guy has to do.
You’ll maybe be pleased to hear that the books are not filled with this emotional ‘gay Mills and Boon’ guff! Just a little relevant bit, here and there…
And now: some happier boys!
One more for today: