I have to confess that I get a little buzz from shocking my
parents. It's the ultimate adrenaline rush. Some people like to
bungee, others have sex in public places, but I like to know I've
still got what it takes to shock my parents to make me feel
alive.The trouble is that since coming out to them I haven't been
able to shock them. I have literally shot my shock load.
When I first told my parents about my girlfriend they were a
little shocked. Fair enough I suppose since until that point I'd
only ever bought boyfriends home. People just assumed I was too
independent to settle down with any of them. It turned out I was
actually too gay to settle down with any of them.
The fact that it came as a shock at all was itself the most
shocking thing, because my girlfriend and I had been living on top
of each other in very close quarters for some time before I came
out. My big reveal went something like this, "You know my friend?
Yes the one who's been sharing my bed for the last three years,
because my sofa is very hard and osteopath bills would have been
crippling, well she's actually my girlfriend." They were proud of
me altruistically helping out a friend in need, so it was a bigger
shock to hear it had been for my own selfish gain.
Nothing I've done since has come close to shocking them. I dyed my
hair pink and didn't get so much as a raised eyebrow. I dropped the
c-word into conversation with my mum while she was removing the
snails from her hostas and she didn't even flinch. Even my tattoo
paled into insignificance compared with telling them I was a
lesbian. I've lost my ability to shock. I've basically inoculated
my parents against shock, and they are now immune to it.
That said, I've recently discovered that I still have one card up
my sleeve. I've noticed that if I comment on attractive blokes,
even a casual "He's gorgeous", I see their faces register their
surprise and the merest flash of hope simultaneously. They've put a
lot of work into accepting that I'm gay, and they've even come to
appreciate the way that my life is different to my sister's. So now
they're afraid it might all change. They react to my throwaway
comments as if I'm a dyed-in-the-wool vegetarian whose lip is now
clamped onto a steak sandwich.
It might be a surprise to them, but in truth my admiring comments
are no cause for shock waves. I'm a lesbian, but I'm not blind. I'm
happy to see a pair of ripped obliques on anyone just to know they
exist, because my own have always been somewhat invisible. I'm not
sexually attracted to men, but that doesn't stop me acknowledging a
good body when I see one. It's possible to appreciate the aesthetic
without actually wanting one yourself. I feel the same way about