“Like A Family Photo With A Gay Kid In It”

Holiday_gay-1If you read one thing at the New York Times today, make it Maureen Solomon's "Coming Out by Christmas Card," a piece in which she weighs the uncertainty she felt about "outing" her son by using a picture of him in a Lambda Legal t-shirt as they family holiday greeting.

An excerpt:

…In talking with Sean recently, I learned that even our loose and
deferential policy seemed somewhat stiff and formal to him, lacking the
organic quality of casual conversation where mentioning that my son is
gay comes up somewhere between comparing the cost of braces and debating
presidential politics. He recognizes, like the brightest civil rights
trailblazers, that true progress is made not only in grand gestures, but
in mundane moments that almost imperceptibly telegraph the many
versions of normal we should all embrace.

Like a family photo with a gay kid in it.



  1. BABH says

    So this mother feels squicky about her son wearing a Lambda t-shirt, when 99% of Americans don’t even know what Lambda is, and when about 16 times more straight-identified people than gay-identified people support gay rights.

    And we’re supposed to be impressed?

  2. robert says

    @ REALITY and @ BABH:
    Yes, we should be impressed. The crux of the message isn’t about the Lambda-Legal t-shirt, and a little typo doesn’t make the message any less relevant: “true progress is made not only in grand gestures, but in mundane moments that almost imperceptibly telegraph the many versions of normal we should all embrace.”

  3. UFFDA says

    Oh come on BABH, it’s not “lingering shame” it’s “residual discomfort”. There’s a difference and you’re just choosing the worst view for the sake of drama.

    Thanks Belonsky for the heads up. I read the story…she’s a good mother doing it right.

  4. UFFDA says

    BABH – congratulations you are among the very first ever in these comments to graciously concede a point. Not that I need you to. But wouldn’t it be nice if more people hereon were, in fact, gracious. Yet I shudder at how often I have not been so myself.
    Thank you.

  5. robert says

    “Residual discomfort”??
    I guess I’m interpreting the story differently, because I got the impression that she (and her husband) respect their son’s wishes regarding how he wants to come out to others, and she did some soul-searching on whether or not the Xmas card over-reached a perceived boundary: “Our casual policy has been that it is Sean’s news to tell, something he should do in his own time and space.”

    She’s writing of learning to understand her son a little better, and that it’s OK to include the “mundane moments”.

  6. MaddM@ says

    I think there is a certain point where you’re just out, and there isn’t a need for repeated “coming out”s because that’s just who you are and it has integrated into your personality. If you’re wearing around a lambda legal shirt in public you’re past that point.

    It’s the difference of the social reaction going from “did you know Andy is gay” to “yes Andy is gay, didn’t you know?”

  7. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Reality: (1) Spell check will not catch hyphenation issues like “Lambda-Legal”. (2) The NYT does not hyphenate “Lambda Legal logo”, perhaps because it is a proper name.

    There are times to complain on this blog about spelling &c, but this is not one of them.

  8. Steve-ATL says

    BABH, it’s constant complainers and debbie downers like you who knowingly end up hurting LGBT, by trying to demoralize it’s members. But you already knew that.

    Back to pretending you’re not one of the conservative trolls (in a coy manner) we go.

    I love transparent bots.

  9. Mike C says

    Good for them. Being open with your family and friends about being gay is what changes attitudes. Hiding behind a closet door in shame reaffirms “there’s something wrong with being gay”
    and there’s no spinning that.

    So proud to be myself, openly so, and make no apologies for it.

  10. Dynex says

    Just the idea of being in the closet in what…2013, when our nation’s President is so vocal about gay rights, and a majority of Americans support it..is, well pathetic to me. Judgmental? meh, so are we all. And no I don’t live in Los Angeles, or NYC, or a place that is accepting. Nor do I have the most accepting family. But somehwhere in life I realized my life was worth living for me. That I am a tax paying GOOD citizen. That my inherently being gay is NOTHING to want to hide, or be in shame of, or regret. It’s something that makes me me. To deny that is to not be a man. And perhaps that’s why I’m never attracted to men hiding in a closet. That’s not what being a man is about.

  11. Prof Sancho Panza says

    The NYTimes piece is self-congratulatory to an extreme, with the writer using her son as a prop to solicit applause from readers for how enlightened she is, when in fact she’s barely even liberal – as is made painfully clear by the sentence, “And a piece of me is thrilled that my gender-lopsided family, with three boys and one girl, may someday end up with equal sets of sons- and daughters-in-law.”

    Ms. Salamon has expanded her picket fence, Ozzie and Harriet social paradigm just enough to be flexible about what gender her son’s future spouse will be, and not one inch more. She leaves the larger social structures unquestioned and uncriticized, and in her mind everything is still symmetrical and comes in pairs, like salt and pepper shakers and chairs around the Thanksgiving table.

    Obviously, I’ll admit that her son is luckier than many gay teens, and she deserves credit for that. But that doesn’t change how self-congratulatory and suburban-bourgeois she is.

    (Full disclosure does require that I admit I still have all my “Gay Power” political pins showing clenched fists from my misspent youth!)

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