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Aug. 7th, 2012 | 01:26 pm

It seems as if the fallout from the Amma program has been a mini healing crisis that has diverted some of my attention away from my work. Given the fact that I'm not going away for any appreciable length of time this summer, I've just been letting it happen.

I think that viewing the gay-themed short films has helped to bring up feelings around adolescence, sexual exploration, and being outed more effectively than just about any other means I can think of, including therapy. When I look back on my situation, I never actively came out to my parents. All I ever did was to question my feelings by writing about them in my journal when I was 17, and then I began to date men when I was 19. I was actually outed twice by my mother under rather hostile conditions. The first time was when she read my journal without my consent or knowledge. She even removed the "offending" pages with a razor blade. Talk about intrusive! That's actually kind of sick. (No wonder I've attracted some sicko abusers as friends.) The other time she cornerned me verbally with her suspicions while my father was out of town on business. I had been dating men since I was 19, but this incident occured when I was 21, during the summer after I graduated from college.

What I saw in the Slovak and Dear Friend films was the way in which, on top of discovering feelings for another boy, the one who is dealing with that is simultaneously burdened with other people freaking out about it: all of the projected fears and shaming and blaming. It's that element that creates nearly unbearable pressure on someone who is already extremely vulnerable and who is badly in need of understanding and support. I think that failures to receive support at such a time can create traumas, some of which may never heal. They can plant the seeds for years of estrangement. In my case, there were "reactive incidents" in which my parents failed to respond properly as adults. Paradoxically, it is in situations like this that parents will turn to the adolescent--who is genuinely in crisis--and demand that he or she work miracles by rearranging reality so that the parents don't have to feel anxiety. If the the gay adolescent or young adult is supposedly so flawed, how can he or she muster the resources to bail out actual adults who should know better? When, after the initial shock wore off, my parents declared that they steadfastly refused to read any gay-supportive or PFLAG literature, that was a deliberate conscious choice. That was a conscious error, and a deliberate attempt to be punitive, and for that they are accountable. The next incident was when, after I had met my partner, I informed my parents that I met someone, and my father replied with a curt note, informing me that I was never to contact them again. Not very mature behavior on the part of people who were at that time 49 years old, which is the age I'm at now.

In Buď sám sebou, Adam first gets the freakout from his parents (especially from his father), but at least Adam was the one who consciously initiated the conversation. That possibly gave him a little bit more power than what I experienced. Then, after seeking temporary refuge with Michal, he gets tossed out and blamed for inadvertently outing Michal. Ultimately (although he could have told Michal to go fuck himself when he finally got around to texting Adam), Adam decides that his personal integrity is more important to him than whatever kind of boyfriend he hoped Michal could be. In the end, it appears that Adam's integrity is enough to pull Michal along, too.

In Dear Friend, the wounding comes first from James, and then is compounded by Christian's father's failure to realize that what Christian needed was understanding, not criticism and threats. There are subtle details to the performance by the actor (Joshua Miles) who plays Christian that, for me, register one wounding disappointment after another. Then, of course, near the end, when the fight between Christian and James turns to restraint, and then to friendly embrace: at least we get to see Christian get some of the understanding and acceptance that he needs, even if it's only partial. And even though James was an asshole in the way he treated Christian after the "revelation," at least he pulled it together enough to show that he really did care about him. The woman who wrote and directed that film is only 20 years old. It's technically a student film. I think it's brilliant.

In my case, a stabilizing factor has been my partner and, along with him, his family. Following my mother's death (and even somewhat before then), my father has come around considerably, but I still have a lot of healing to do.

Somewhat related to these films and to some things I wrote before about early crushes, the student exchange program, etc., I decided to poke around online to see if I could find some people I could communicate with, particularly in Slovakia. I have found a couple of penpal sites and have actually been in contact with several people. More on that later. 


Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,

okm

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