"Within two days I have come out to my cleaner, and then to my 20-year-old son"
It has been quite a week. I don’t know if there is something in the water but, after a long time of not discussing my sexual preferences with anyone, within two days I have come out to my cleaner, and then to my 20-year-old son. From the sublime to the ridiculous? In truth, I feel far more uncomfortable admitting that I have a cleaner, than I feel telling anyone that I bat for the other side - as an employee once confidingly informed me that a customer did, little knowing that I did (or at least I wanted to be on their team!) too.
So there, it’s out. I have a cleaner. Please don’t judge me too harshly. I can feel myself wanting to justify my choice, in a way that I don’t feel I need to do about my sexuality. But I am going to resist the pull to account for myself, and instead breathe through the discomfort I’m experiencing with the thought that I may have already lost the goodwill of many readers.
My cleaner likes to chat. Usually I’m at work, but if I’m around she regularly passes the time by asking if I am dating and why wouldn’t I try finding a man online? I had long been avoiding the subject of my lady-loving inclinations, but last week she caught me at a low ebb and I cracked. The news that finding a man wasn't on my agenda was no big deal however. (Maybe she had already seen my huge stack of DIVAs in the wardrobe?) She barely even paused in vacuuming dried-up frozen peas, stiff, oily cheese shards and mouldy breadcrumbs from under the kitchen units. When she did raise her head, she gave no judgement of my choice, instead providing me with a list of the lesbians she knew, and recounting their stories.
The most heartwarming of these concerned a friend who finally left an abusive husband after ten years, vowing she would “never go with a man again”. True to her declaration, a few weeks later she took herself to a gay bar, went home with a woman, and they are still together, 16 years later. I was relieved to hear such a positive tale, as I had not been at all sure how my cleaner would react to the news that I preferred to share my bed and my life with a woman. As it transpires, getting it on with a gal is actually on her bucket list. She's keen to give it a go, having heard the rumour that once you've had sex with a woman, you won't want to go back to a man. I certainly wasn't about to disabuse her of this notion!
I was still slightly reeling from this unlikeliest of coming out conversations (which, I now recall, also bizarrely included an aside of the ins and outs of gay male sex!), when I spent Saturday evening with my son. Maybe the easy simplicity of the conversation with my cleaner opened me up to the potential of a dialogue with him. Or maybe I was just on a roll? Who knows - I reckon if I was awake early enough, the milkman might also have got my big reveal last week! Whatever the case I was prepared for his questions. Deep down I was aware that this was something my son wanted to talk about. Whenever we have had time alone together in the last few months, I have been expecting him to raise the subject. But he hadn’t, and neither had I as, quite frankly, I didn’t relish having to admit to having an affair with a married woman. It was the fact that she's married that I was uncomfortable with. I truly didn't think he would mind that she's a woman.
So, after a couple of hours together discussing his own relationship woes, he finally broached the subject. “Anyway, tell me more about your relationship with X,” he mumbled. “What do you want to know?” I asked, smiling and knowing quite well what he wanted confirmed. After a few seconds of hesitation on both sides, I took a deep breath. “Well, if X wasn’t married then I would, I hope, be in a relationship with her.” We both breathed out. That was as much as I needed to say for now.
He did ask more questions, but it was the most connecting, least awkward discussion I could have imagined. The second undramatic, straightforward coming-out conversation in days! Now, where’s my great Aunt Jane’s phone number…
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