Sunday, July 5, 2009

Told the Aunt and Uncle

So this fourth of July we had my wifes aunt and uncle came up from San Antonio to celebrate with us. These folks had lives very much like my wife and I. They had retired from the US Army, we all had similar pasts, similar histories, and so we get along very well and generally have a good time together. Well, about a year ago we spent thanksgiving at their home and toward the end of the evening things got a little bit uncomfortable. After a bit of prompting, my wifes aunt finally came out with it - she had been told by my mother in law that I was a cross dresser. My mother in law had in fact stayed with us for several months a few years back, but I had been very careful to be sure she had never seen anything to do with cross dressing, and to this day I still have no idea what she may have seen. Obviously she HAD seen something or this conversation wouldn't be taking place. Personally I am not at all ashamed of who or what I am, but I have a wife and I have children, so the decision and the consequences are not mine alone. I glanced at my wife hoping for some indication if it was all right with her for me to talk to them. I've been married 22 years now, and after that much time with someone, words aren't always needed. In this case, the look in my wifes eyes made it clear she did NOT want me to share everything with them. Even at that, had they point blank asked me, I would have told them the truth. But given my wifes look, and the fact that they had not bluntly asked me, I did not offer anything up.
Well, since that dinner a year or so ago, they had brought it up two or three more times. Each time I wanted to trust them, but didn't want to go against my wifes wishes. These are really good people. These are the kind of folks that would literally give you the shirt off of their backs, or the last slice of bread they owned if you were hungry, and I was fairly sure they would be all right with it. Once again though, my wife feared that this would change things, that it would change the way they feel about us, that it would change the way they treat us, and that they may be uncomfortable around me. It's not an unfounded fear - this HAS happened to us before.
Well, on the fourth they brought it up again. I told them how disappointed I was that my Mother in law and I had started off great friends, but some where along the line she had decided she didn't care for me. My aunt looked right at me and said "It was the cross dressing." She said it very calmly, simply stating the fact while not endorsing or agreeing with my mother in laws attitude or actions. I'd have to be honest, I wasn't really shocked it had been brought up again - I had pretty much expected it to since it seems to come up pretty much every time we met these days. I excused myself and went inside to speak with my wife who was feeding our newborn.
"Babe, this is ridicules. It's been brought up again, this time simply stated as a fact. They are not just hinting anymore. Can I be honest with them?"  My wife looked at me long and hard.
"I don't want it to change things Matthew. If you tell them, and it changes things, I'm going to be very upset with you!" she said.
"Clearly they have made up their minds that I am. Now our only choice is, do you want them to base their opinions on what your mother may have told them, or on the truth? We can only imagine the conclusions they might draw on their own if we don't give them the truth."
"Go ahead," she said "but if it changes things I'm going to be mad as hell at you!"

So, I walked back out to the porch where we had been chatting.
"Well guys, I've got to be honest with you, I have no idea what she could have seen or when she saw it, but she didn't lie to you, I AM a cross dresser."  They both looked at me like 'yeah, so what?'  Clearly this wasn't a huge surprise to them.  Her uncle looked at me and said "We really don't give a shit what you guys do in your bedroom."  I started to laugh and assured them that what I was had nothing to do with the bedroom. My wife has absolutely no interest in me that way while cross dressed. It was VERY late, we had all drank more than our fair share, so we didn't spend as long as you might expect chatting about it. I did try to explain that it had little or nothing to do with sex, and far more to do with the fact that every man I had ever met growing up had been garbage. My own father spent all of his time drunk, beating both, his many wives and his children. The many step fathers that followed him in my life weren't a hell of a lot better. On the flip side, every woman in my life was strong, proud, and responsible. More or less, I had grown up feeling ashamed to be male and wishing that I was more like my grandmother, mother, and my big sister. I showed them a couple of pics so that they wouldn't have nightmares trying to picture what I looked like, and we spoke just a little longer about it.  They promised me that it means very little to them, and that our relationship was 100 safe. Hopefully that opinion will remain when they get back home, because even though it was clear they knew, I will never forgive myself if I've ruined our friendship. I think we're good though. It's funny, if you want to stick with the stereo types, you might hesitate to tell this to a retired NCO, thinking there was not way that they would accept this from someone. On the contrary though, after a life in the military, you see many cultures, many people, and I think learn some tolerance for people that might be a bit different. Of course, it doesn't hurt at all that my aunt and uncle are just cool as hell either!

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