The call came Thursday at 11:00. One of my partner's cousins called to say that his favorite Aunt had passed away the night before and that the funeral was going to be in a small town in western Iowa on Saturday. There was no way to arrange to fly so we got in the car on Friday morning and drove for 12 hours.
My partner was worried about how his family would receive me/us. I have met some of my partner's family at his daughter's wedding four years ago but this weekend was going to be a lot of family that I have not met and it was going to be at a funeral in a Catholic church in the middle of cornfield-conservative-country. I mean two hours drive from where we left the interstate let alone a big city. Hell my cell phone didn't work.
At the funeral service I was as nervous as a pregnant whore in Sunday School. I felt like there was a big "Gay" sign on my forehead. The fact that we are gay or partners or married is no secret. But damn, I was sitting with my handsome partner in the fourth row of a Catholic church with the family. I am six, three with silver hair. I stick out!
After the service we ate dinner with my partner's family in the church hall and then went to the cemetery and then to the family home. Then something wonderful began to happen.
All of my partner's family went out of their way to make me feel welcome. We talked and laughed. We did the same normal stuff that every family does at these sort of things. People asked about me and my job and my family. When we said our goodbyes I was surrounded with hugs and kisses (many from men) and admonished to visit and promises were made to come see us.
I sat in the passenger seat as we drove down the two miles of gravel road to get back to the road to our hotel I watched the lush green fields of corn and soybeans slide by as the sun slid towards the horizon. I thought how beautiful it was there and how wrong I had been about the people there. They didn't give a damn if I was gay or green as long as my partner was happy. They love him so they love me.
As a LBG (Late Breaking Gay) who has been out of the closet now for 8 years I still worry about being accepted. An old bad habit I guess. But the bottom line is that when you love someone you want them to be happy. If someone doesn't want you to be happy, maybe they don't really love you...could be.