July 17, 2010

The Absurd Hellishness of My First Semi-Disgrace, Pt. I

[In addition to all of our awesome visible and identifying columnists, we also have some awesome anonymous columnists that for one reason or another must use a pseudonym (and pseudopic?). Details on anonymous columnists here.]

She will probably read this somehow, eventually, and it hardly matters—she knows, and has for some forty-eight hours.
I slept in my car last night. I had been offered plenty of beds, but fell asleep drunkenly slouched all the way down in the front seat of my car, and never bothered to respond to my benefactor’s text message inviting me in.

The library computer has a sixty minute time limit for personal use, and I don’t even have a membership card. My tremulous fingers retard the fever pitch of my thoughts and it’s hard to sit upright on this wooden stool on account of my hummingbird heart.

She has known for some forty-eight hours, but the corporeality of my semi-disgrace only emerged yesterday with the text message that broke her stony silence after locking herself in her room and slinking around in the background while I entertained friends in my home for

“You may as well have reaped out my heart & then spit on me.”

There’s an odd inversion process when a child moves out of the home, whence the child’s parents graduate from abstractions and turn into real human beings, for all their successes and failures and malaise and turpentine gradations of consciousness and abject depravity.

Preceding this transformation a parent is merely a vessel of self-service, an artificial processing mechanism whom you love unequivocally and who serves you French toast before high school,
even waking up hours before their own work day to do so.

I had hoped for a reciprocal process, but the text message tells me better: I am still mere progeny, reflecting upon my mother the triumphs and inadequacies of her own imparted will on my being. Though it was she who insidiously found her way into my gmail account and read long, stream-of-consciousness messages forming the rough draft of my imminent Bildungsroman, and multitudinous uncensored anecdotes of my sexual experiences over the course of the last year, I am the aggressor here, thrusting her headfirst into her own naiveté and veritable nightmare, manifested in the candid prose of her devilish creation of four-limbed fleshfulness.

“Only God can forgive you for what are doing (sic).”

This couldn’t have happened two years ago, I wouldn’t have written about it. “I hope you are able to be proud of me again, though I can’t stake my happiness in that possibility,” was my SMS response. I can’t, and I can no longer deign to placate her in a guise of superreligious contrition. God cannot forgive me, nor do I desire forgiveness.

My instinct is rationality without succumbing to condescension; I dismissed the thought and replaced the word ‘rational’ with ‘calm’ in my text message, “I love you and can talk to you calmly when you’re ready.”

Rationality is secularism-cum-treachery in her universe and, despite having studied contemporary Hebrew Bible literary critique and history in my past semester at Duke, I should spare my insistent earnestness about the nature of the Bible—how its divine infallibility is a farce, how it’s teachings of worth—if any—are excluded from its grossly antiquated moralizing; how its social artifice is cruel and unbecoming of modern humanity in ways no lesser than it’s haughtily dismissed distant cousin Islam; how it has no conception of sexuality and speaks in only discrete terms of sex.

No of these ruminations will pass from my lips into her ear, even were I to scream them vociferously and hand her a bold-faced transcription replete with dictionary definitions of terms.

Having finished brunch in the highest of spirits, I sprighted up the staircase into my bedroom to retrieve my laptop and show my friends pictures from a recent vocation. The laptop was gone, in its place a Bible in a black slipcase with the acronym “WWJD” emblazoned in rubber pressed letters.

The last time this happened, condoms had been discovered from their hiding place in my bookcase. They had been used for women, then. I was sixteen.

“I can’t even bring myself to tell your father, who is so proud of you. “

The third and final line of her text message, and sum total of communication with me in the past forty-eight hours, is the only line without a grammatical error, and for my ESL-mother, this means she has pondered it most heavily.

And yet, it is nearly immaterial for me. I had divorced myself from my father’s approval in middle school, when I decided that I would retreat to a false projected identity in his presence—a typical response I feel, for those of us deeply wounded by our father’s inabilities to emote.

The timing is unfortunate, if inevitable—I had first desired economic solvency, a pragmatic consideration that could not be exaggerated; though my present hellishness is unexpected it is concretely unsurprising—twelve years ago my eldest sister revealed her nascent lesbianism. I want gather my courage, and resist effrontery, and be graceful. I want to articulate that, unlike my sister, I will not internalize feelings of self-loathing and “conviction” and become purged in a penitent religious catharsis that has maimed my sister’s soul and leaves her at impossible odds with her own identity.

I sat in a brew house last night celebrating a friend’s birthday, in the presence of at least four men whom I love dearly. No amount of rhetorical self-esteem-instilling-therapy can replace their investment and confidence and love for me, and the solidarity of their faithfulness —in no uncertain terms—presents to me a reality far more palpable and esteemed than even the foulest lapses of the (supposedly unconditional) parent-child contract my parents can possibly impart.

I can’t end this post with any modicum of resolution, because I have still yet to converse with or look upon my mother or father in the flesh, and am currently cherishing my self-imposed defection from home and hearth and the reverie of being “on the road.”

—tbc ,

Eric Fürst


  1. I wish you all the best of luck, dear. I hope that through conversation you can bring them to terms with your sexuality. If not, then I'm sure you already know that you have a wonderful support system in the triangle.

  2. After realizing that this blog entry is not an 18th century narrative that recently appeared in the GRE critical reading section, once can't help but wonder about the author's own narcissistic tendencies.

  3. "The laptop was gone, in its place a Bible in a black slipcase with the acronym “WWJD” emblazoned in rubber pressed letters."

    That's nuts.

  4. I wish I could say everything will be all right. But sometimes things never take a turn for the better, and you'll never find acceptance from your family. I came out to religious, irrational, immigrant parents too, and I spent a good portion of the early days talking my mom out of suicide. 4 years later, it's just something we never talk about. I'm sorry you were outed under these circumstances. As easy as it is to be angry and spiteful (and to play the victim and pity yourself for being rejected by your parents for something immutable), the best way to move forward is to be the best possible son you can be. Show them you are worthy of their pride despite rejecting their views on religion and sexuality. Appeal to them emotionally, and do everything possible to resist belittling them or being confrontational. You might feel like you don't have a family for a long time, so it's important to find family and support elsewhere. Good luck navigating this awful situation. Keep us posted.

  5. Hey E.F., I hope you know a lot of people love you. =) Me included. I think the only way I was able to come out was because I had the support of such rational people you mention...people who told me it was my status as a member of our LGBT community that made me *better*. I'm always here to talk.

  6. anonymous #1, wonder not: admitted narcissism-cum-ethical egoism (yet not to be conflated with solipsism or pretension excepting the unavoidable pretense of an authored blog post) expressed in prior posts, #1 and 2.

    update: kicked out of house, but "temporarily" as far as I'm concerned—must eat (abdicate groceries), replace bible with laptop, etc etc; hoping for continued college funding and like eventual love i.e. "the sinner"; enjoying the hot California sun above all, amen.

  7. E.F. be strong....I can only imagine how you must feel because in my coming out process, though also a little forced, my parents responded to rationality. All I can hope is that your parents will be able to realize that their love for you is greater than the archaic system of enslavement that is religion and will welcome you back into their hearts and home.

  8. this probably won't make you feel any better, but nearly the exact same thing happened to me. It absolutely sucks. How I coped:focused on the necessary things I had to do.
    as someone who reconciled with her parents by giving into their denial, i can say that i cannot wait until i am financially independent.
    i'm glad you can find the courage to write about this experience. i hope for the best for you.

  9. This really kind of makes me feel better. Are you still at Duke now? Message me, perhaps.