Dear Grandparenting: I am the grandmother of seven about to make a life-changing decision. Half of me is nervous and the other half impatient. I’m thinking of coming out of the closet at the tender age of 67.
I was married. Three times to be exact. I never did figure out my problem with the matrimonial state, because all three were good men.
Women started looking a whole lot better toward the end of my last marriage. After my first time, it seemed as natural as rolling off a log. The gay life is my life now.
My biggest worry is not so much what others think. It’s what my grandchildren think. They all know how much I love them and hate to think they could stay away, like I’m something dirty. I work up the courage to tell them and freeze up. I want to do this right. Your advice? Gray and Gay, Rochester, New York
Dear Gray and Gay: Up until 1973, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — listed homosexuality as a mental illness. And it wasn’t that long ago that gays were subject to arrest and prosecution in certain jurisdictions.
America has since come a long way. But in the flood of images and faces from the gay nation, seniors seem conspicuously under-represented. Many seniors feel neglected and marginalized, but aging gays have it worse — more likely to live alone and face discrimination among medical and social services, less likely to have health insurance or the range of benefits and goodwill extended to married or straight counterparts. In this context, grandchildren can become downright essential.
Twenty or so years ago, you could expect blowback. But in a nation increasingly supportive of equal rights for the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), kids today are generally more tolerant and inclusive. For all you know, some of your grandchildren’s best friends are on the LBGT spectrum. According to a 2021 Gallup Poll, one-sixth of the so-called Generation Z born between 1996 and 2002 self-identify as LGBT.
Forget an awkward coming out speech. You’ll make the same statement just by showing up with your new “friend” at family functions; for the time being, avoid public displays of affection. By presenting as happy and content, your grandchildren will come around. Give it time.
Grand remark of the week
Jan Brownley from Everett, Washington wanted everyone at her Thanksgiving table last year to talk briefly about what they were grateful for.
When it was granddaughter Nell’s turn, she rose to speak. “I am thankful for my new baby brother,” said Nell, “but what I really wanted was a puppy!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.