One of my favorite authors, Armistead Maupin, has often spoken of the “logical” vs. the biological family….
Recently, I read an interview with author Rick R. Reed, where he discussed “families of choice.” No matter what you call them, gay folks often seek the support and comfort of such relationships to offset a harsh or disappointing childhood.
The logical family is at the very core of The HomePort Journals, and this family of choice includes the elderly, transgendered, and others beyond the typical circle of gay friends. Through mutual respect and appreciation for their differences, they overcome the past to become a loving family.
I feel blessed to have a real-life, logical family; dear friends whom I can, and do, count on. That was not always the case: Most of my “traditional” family was (and, unfortunately, still is) ensnared in the negativity and mindlessness of religious fundamentalism. There was no room for me in their system of beliefs. My “lifestyle” was considered sinful, my love, repugnant. It should come as no surprise that I yearned for a better world where kindness was commonplace.
To a certain extent, I created that world in The HomePort Journals, knowing full well that it might be seen by some as sentimental or reflective of a much simpler time. Those who think that are most welcome to their opinion, but I have a hunch…. Most of us—if we are truly honest with ourselves—yearn for acceptance and respect for the person we truly are. I believe these desires exist in the minds of most folks, especially gay men—if only as an unrealized dream.
I suspect we adhere to society’s expectations (being hip, being “hot,” whatever they may be at the moment…) in hopes of finding meaning and validation for our existence. And, who hasn’t dreamed of a lover who just “gets it without being told?” When you assess these yearnings, aren’t we just looking for inclusion, a bit of respect, and a modicum of kindness? And, of course, love.
As with many of us, at first my characters hid their kindness behind gruffness, insecurity, and deflection. In fact, Helena Handbasket, the cross-dressing housekeeper of the HomePort Mansion, has enough wardrobe changes to make Madonna rethink her next national tour. Their reticence makes sense to me. Kindness is all about risk—kind people are often exploited and frequently belittled. Since completing The HomePort Journals, I see that risk as the price of entry; the stepping-stone to achieving our desires, be it a best friend, an ideal lover—or a logical family.
Writing The HomePort Journals taught me how a single act of kindness can change everything. I came to value my family of friends even more and recognize the important, affirming role they play. That realization became a cornerstone of the book and my life. We are always the better for offering kindness. After all, it opens the door to love.
Author’s Note: This Article first appeared as a Guest blog for My Fiction Nook.