Marcella: the Activist

Coming To Terms

by Marcella Caruso

My shorts stuck to my legs, my hair was still dripping with sea salt. I took off my dirty flip flops and ran into the house, tracing sand everywhere I went, as if I were Hansel and Gretel, creating a way back to my innocent bliss in the sunshine.

*

My mom called me in for a family meeting. “We’re separating,” she announced. I wanted to be surprised, but in truth, I wasn’t. My mind started swirling when my thoughts were interrupted. “…it’s because I’m gay.” She started to sweep up the sand I had brought into the house.

*

“Gay.” The word stung, but I wasn’t sure why. Based on my prior experience with this word, I deduced that it must have a negative meaning. It could be easily inserted with say, “stupid” or “ugly.” I also vaguely remembered the word in a headline above a picture of about twenty people standing outside a building, carrying beat-up signs. They didn’t look happy.  So that was it. My mom was now leaving our perfect family to join this cult of sad-looking people who were called bad names.

*

I told them my parents were separated.  Some asked if they fought a lot. For a moment, I considered telling the truth. Instead I responded, “I guess you could say that.” And it was over.

*

I knew what would happen if people found out. I would end up just like that girl from Milton—the one in the newspaper that my mom sat me down to talk about. She was bullied for having two moms. “How does that make you feel? Don’t worry sweetheart, you are very safe, I won’t let anyone hurt you.” What did she know?

*

“Jimmy, you are such a FAG!” I cringed. There was only a one-letter difference, but the word was infinitely crueler than “gay,” a word I had become more comfortable with. “Did your mom drop you on the head when you were a baby?” I decided I would never tell them the truth. I closed my eyes and sat in isolated silence.

*

We took a summer vacation to Provincetown. It was Pride Week, but I didn’t know that. My mom put me in a day camp to “meet other kids like me.” She meant kids with gay parents. They made us perform a choreographed song at the show. We chanted, “Queer-spawn, Queer-spawn, we are Queer-spawn!” I mouthed the words. When I got home, I looked up the definitions of queer and spawn: queer: “strange, odd, slightly ill”; spawn: “the eggs of fish, frogs, etc., the product or offspring of a person or place (used to express distaste or disgust.)”

*

It’s been nine years since that sticky July day and I’ve come to terms with the situation. Now I stand in front of the class and share my story.

Marcella Caruso is a 16-year-old high school student from Boston, MA. She currently lives with her mother and her mother’s partner and has recently started writing about her experience of growing up with a gay parent. She hopes this essay will help other kids who are struggling with this unique identity and also those who are interested in learning more about the perspective of children with LGBT parents. Want to read more about Marcella? Marcella is profiled Rainbow Rumpus’s June editition. Click below to read more about her. http://www.rainbowriot.org/teens/marcella-activist

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