When I was married to K, we really integrated into each other families. When we would visit her mother or her sister's house, I did not feel like I was K's boyfriend who was visiting for the day. I really felt like I was part of the family.
Even now, they all know I know I am gay and I have been divorced from their daughter for almost 2 years, I still feel like family when I am there.
Once or twice a week I am at T's house and around his family. Usually I have dinner with them and then hang around the house for a few hours before I have to go home.
His family's attitude toward me is always polite and usually friendly. His 2 younger sister make a point to say Hi. One of them will often engage me in conversation. His mom is friendly and will usually smile when I come in. She remembers the foods I like and if she makes one of my favorites, will often send me home with enough for the next day. His dad will acknowledge me, and make sure I get enough to eat. He is somewhat hard of hearing, so conversation is not something he does much of.
Despite their friendless I always feel like an outsider. It's kind of like, they are OK if I am there, but doubt I would be missed if I was not there. I am not part of the family. I am T's friend. It even occurred to me the other day, if something were to happen to T, would anyone in his family even think to call me?
To be fair, part of this is my fault. I do not speak Vietnamese and I have not put much effort into learning. They have most of their conversations in their native language and it's not reasonable for me to expect them to change just because I show up for dinner. So in that regard, I have put outsider status on myself.
Part of it is because his family does not really accept him as a gay man. To me it feels like a dirty secret that everyone knows about. Like the uncle in the family who has been in prison or used to be a drug addict. Everyone knows about it, but no one talks about it.
I also think part of it's because we don't live together. He lives with his family and I am an occasional visitor. When I was married to K, it was rare that K would see her family without me. Over time, it became natural to them that she and I were a unit. We (the two of us) were a new, complete family unit within the larger family.
Despite our love, T and I are not a family unit. We are not together as a family. We do not function as a family unit so why should his larger family think of us that way? They shouldn't and they don't.
So, I even though T and I think of each other as partners, his family does not. I can tell and it makes me feel like an outsider.
OK, so I told you that story so I could tell you this story.
The other day, T invited me out for dinner with his family. They were celebrating some good news in T's business and he wanted me with him. (Which was totally sweet!!). During the course of dinner, T did something that was very embarrassing to me. What happened is not important, but I was very upset about it. I know he did not mean to embarrass me, in fact until I told him afterwards, he was not even aware that I was upset about anything.
After it all died down, I reflected on it. If K had done the exact same thing to me with her family, would I have been upset? Of course, was my initial reaction. The more I thought about it, however, the more I knew that was not true. The fact is, I doubt I would have been upset about it at all.
Then I had to figure out why not? What I think it boils down to is feeling about being the outsider. With K's family I am in insider. With T's I am not. When you are on the edge of a tight knit group that you want to be part of, you are self-conscious. Because you want to be accepted by the group, what they thing of you is important. T is always going to be close to his family. The scenarios that have us living together mostly involve us living together with his family, so it is important they like me. It is important they accept me.
T has assured me for everyone else, this was a non-event. They didn't even notice anything was out of the ordinary. But still it nagged in the back of my mind.
Will we (he and I as a family unit) ever be really accepted or will I always be an outsider looking in?
Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2
9 hours ago