Meet the Fockers
Tomorrow my girlfriend and I leave for a five-day visit to her hometown in the western U.S. It’s finally time for me to meet la mia ragazza la famiglia.
Her family did not take her coming out to them 15 years ago very well at all. Being homosexual was the worst thing she could do in the realm of my girlfriend’s parent’s very narrow view on and parameters around intimate pairings.
My girlfriend’s father has been dead for over two decades, but her mother persisted in her homophobia until maybe a year-and-a-half ago when a brick in the wall cracked.
She’s Italian, the mother, and when I was in Bologna, I sent, via my girlfriend, a message I had found on Italian Google, “Buona Festa della Mamma.” It was as simple as that: “Happy Mother’s Day” relayed in Italian. And then the wall began to crumble.
I’d been hanging around her daughter for about nine months and my girlfriend talked about me to her mother, but received only an “Oh” as a response on the other end of the phone. However, when her mother found out I was in Italy, and I was there just because I wanted to be, well, that was magic. She (the mother) began asking what I was doing, what I was eating, where I was visiting. I sent along photos, mailed a card to her mother, and bought a small gift for her.
When I returned to Brooklyn, I Skyped with my girlfriend‘s mother and she liked me. It seemed as though (and she acted like) she had never been a hardcore homophobe.
I know this has made my girlfriend very happy—to have her mother’s support of her primary intimate relationship 40-odd years later. I also think my gal must now have very intense and mixed feelings about visiting her mom and taking me with her. She must have deep, swirling feelings about the woman who birthed her, raised her and then denied a very large part of her existence for so long now embracing her girlfriend and what it means. (I might be stretching there because I’m not sure the mom fully understands or acknowledges what lesbianism means in either political or sexual terms.)
I’m happy to meet the “Fockers” tomorrow. I don’t have the same homophobic experience with my own family of origin—they were accepting of my queerness from day one. So, I can sympathize with my girlfriend, and be supportive, but I cannot imagine the depth of being rejected by family for my sexuality.
It will be interesting not only to meet my girlfriend’s mother, but also her aunts—her mother’s sisters—who have been asking about her “special friend” for the past two years. It’s all very old school—and Italian—unfamiliar to me in terms of my own experience, but oh, so very common and sorry a story in the queer community.
Blogger Bio: Stephanie Schroeder is a dreamer, wanderer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She likes to exchange apartments with artists and other interesting folks from around the globe and travel in search of new friends and singular experiences. She makes purple a way of life and also fancies green, purple’s complementary color on the color wheel. (stephanieschroeder.com)