I remember an odd exchange I had with my wife back when I was newly married. She was determined to be a stay-at-home Mom and crazy me, in my mind, this also meant she was going to be a stay-at-home homemaker. In our division of labor that meant she would take care of the laundry, which she did. I realized such an arrangement could easily sour so I never really discussed how or when this would take place. I just enjoyed the fruits of it. I figure if you’re doing my laundry you can do it whenever and however you please. Still, I was taken aback one day when during our daily phone call on my break at work she told me that that day was “laundry day” so she’d be unable to do XYZ.
Laundry day? What’s that?
I grew up in a large family where it seemed my Mom was continually doing laundry. Everyday was laundry day. After a certain age we all did our own and I’d lived on my own enough so I knew how to launder my own clothes. The only time I had a “laundry day” was when I had to lug everything to a laundromat. Still, even then I’d get studying or letter writing done.
Who reserves one day a week to exclusively do laundry when you have the appliances right at home? I couldn’t wrap my brain around it and I still can’t.
Lest I sound like a male pig who sits around on his ass criticizing “woman’s work” but doing nothing…keep in mind that I’m a divorced father of four. When the kids are with me I do 99% of the household chores. For the past 2 months I’ve been doing laundry for 5 which includes a multitude of towels and bathing suits, 3-4 outfit changes a day by my 2 girls, sheets, etc. I know how to do laundry for 5 people. Not once have I had a laundry day, a vacuuming day, a dusting day, or any other sort of day dedicated to just one aspect of life’s upkeep.
When there are enough whites, they go in the washer and I go about the rest of my day. I get work done, or handle other household chores. I fold the clothes while watching TV at night. A launderer is a portion of who I am during my daily, weekly and monthly existence but at no time am I exclusively a launderer for a day.
I’m finding this approach to be analogous to my life as a gay ex-Mormon father. The more integrated my being gay and a father is with my everyday life the healthier and more well adjusted I feel.
As a father I’m concerned that my kids’ lives end up being naturally segregated between Mom’s approach to life and Dad’s. Super-Mormons with Mom; Easy-going and open with Dad. Part of their growing and maturing will be to integrate the two at a point that sits well with them. That’s a tough hurdle that each have to navigate individually.
Initially when I came out, being gay and ex-Mormon seemed to consume my whole being. It was a large swing of the pendulum from my previous life when I completely denied my homosexuality and never questioned anything Mormon. As the pendulum has teetered back and forth since then, I find there’s a middle ground, a sweet spot that feels more comfortable and more like home. It’s when these varied aspects of my being are well-integrated into my daily life.
No longer do I feel the impulse to deny or hide being gay or being a non-believer. But I don’t feel militant about these facts either. A healthy, well-adjusted approach to life for me seems to be a moderate integration of all of life’s colors and flavors. Isolation or segregation of my gay self from my being a father, coworker, friend tends to lend itself to an obsessive or impulsive nature. I think the same is true for almost anything. Secrets on one end and fanaticism on the other pollute our peace and life-satisfaction. They both also greatly inhibit our ability to love.
For those wondering, this integration idea is why gay men feel the need to come out. This is why non-believers can’t sit by on the sidelines in a passive glazed-over contentment in church pews. It’s also why gay pride events take place, and why equality organizations are pushing for integration.
The concept of “gay marriage” in our society will one day be as odd as quirky as a “laundry day” is to me. ANY marriage between two consenting adults is just a marriage. A “laundry day” is just a day for me. Does anyone say, “interracial marriage” anymore? No, because the fact that individuals of different races marry is now just a casual fact that those marriages are integrated into our society.
When Anderson Cooper recently came out it was such a non-event that there was probably more eye-rolling than spit-taking. I feel less and less of an impulse to tell new acquaintances and yet more and more freedom to casually mention a gay-like activity I may have participated in. It’s just who I am everyday.
Shun segregation, obsession or fanaticism in life.
Strive for Integration.