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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

entry arrow2:30 PM | Family Indiscretions

Save for the occasional biographical tidbits about Mother -- and this is simply because she has never tired from insisting her life was a novel waiting to be written -- I have never really blogged about my family. There are simple reasons for the self-imposed silence: first, because I didn't want cousins and uncles and aunties and in-laws glaring at me over some Sunday dinner, hurt at some online "indiscretion," and second, because frankly I thought there was nothing to blog about.

My family is happily boring: most of them are hardy professionals who have chosen to lead largely conventional and domestic lives. They work, they go to school, they have kids, they spend weekends at their various homes planning the next barbecue, they go to the same church, they shuttle their kids to Sunday school, they go to Bible studies. It goes without saying that most of them are fairly engaged Christian evangelicals whose primary lead-in in every conversation seems to be, "So-and-so has just gotten engaged. Is he Christian, by the way?" or "I hear you're now working for So-and-so. Is she Christian?"

Oh, I do get batty listening to my family talk. Which, I suspect, may be why I chose to be gay. It was antidote and talisman to all the holiness and general sense of myopic boredom that surrounded me. And, you must trust me, I say this with great love for my family.

I realized this when I had lunch with some of them today, in a Swiss restaurant along the boulevard. A cousin was celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with an intimate lunch with only a few of us. See, I love them all, but the way they talked... I could not relate with their way of thinking at all. And so, outnumbered, I just tried to keep my mouth shut as most of them stumbled their way through haphazard topics like climate change and human rights and classroom management and contemporary medicine, the talk heavily spiced with painfully flawed semi-theological philosophy direct from Oral Roberts University. One of my nephews, whom I love very much, said he just watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in HBO, but was largely unconcerned about environmental issues, because -- with the Second Coming soon at hand -- the earth was bound for that terrible fate anyway. I gulped my grilled squid down. (What is scary is the fact that most evangelicals I know, in the Philippines or in the U.S. or elsewhere, do think this way.) It was an uncomfortable lunch, at least for me, and no one around the table even knew about it.

Sometimes, though, some of them surprise me. My openly gay Los Angeles-based brother Rey (who has since legally changed his name to Rey Gio Rosales -- I wonder why) once bought this gorgeous sculpture, mounted like a painting, of a naked man, his butt the focus of anyone's attention. I instantly placed it as the main art in my old bedroom. Upon seeing the piece of art, one of my aunts exclaimed several prayers of shock and dismay. Mother, who is Dumaguete's Mother Theresa, surprised me when she deviated from her usual Christian rhetoric and proceeded to lecture my aunt about the history and significance of the nude in art.

The only unboring episodes that threaten to mar our history of calmness are the small upheavals caused by the few "mavericks" and "black sheep" (and I am being very generous in that estimation) among us -- but these are rare occurrences constituting mere blips in our collective history. We do have our little dramas and the occasional skeletons in closets, but they pale in comparison to the tales of dysfunction many of my friends are wont to tell. Even the slightest whiffs of scandal within the family's ranks are often met with studied indifference otherwise known as denial. Denial is big in my family. That my evagelical mother, for example, has three gay sons and three straight ones (a perfect balance!) is never really acknowledged, and is in fact, tolerated with such extreme obliqueness. But given that the three of us are the most fabulous and the most successful in our side of the bunch may be helping their "acceptance." That, and genuine family love, and Jesus, of course. Whatever it is, as long as they take me for who I am, I take them for what they are.

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