Indianapolis, June 1996
Every summer my parents celebrate Dad's birthday with a barbecue for their family and friends, held the Saturday afternoon closest to June 6th. My sister and I always try to plan our summer visits to coincide with them. This year it should be easy for her, since Mom and Dad have moved to a small town south of Indianapolis, less than 10 miles from Tammy's house.
But she doesn't come to the birthday barbecue.
"Oh, they're busy," Mom says. "[Her husband] Terry is working a lot of hours at the car dealership."
I call to suggest that we get together for lunch during my visit. I get the answering machine.
I try again. She doesn't return my call. After I fly back to San Francisco, I try a third time. No answer.
I ask Mom what the problem is.
"You'll have to work it out between you," she says. "Don't drag me into it."
No birthday card in November.
I stay in San Francisco for Christmas. I send Tammy a present, but she doesn't send me one. I call on Christmas Day, but after a "Hi! How are you?", she makes an excuse and hangs up.
No more contact. Tammy and Terry and their son cease to exist.
As far as I can tell, they figured "it" out, and they recoiled in homophobic horror.
My family practices a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. They never actually use the "g" word, or refer to my boyfriends as boyfriends ("This is Lane, Boomer's...um...friend"). Still, after meeting Viju, Fred, and Lane, and hearing about Alan, Raul, Peter, David, Corbin the Gym Rat, Kevin the Vampire, and Michael J. Fox, you'd think Tammy would get a clue.
Oddly, my brother, the fundamentalist Nazarene, always invites me to stay at his house, and has no qualms about putting me in the bedroom next to his teenage nephews. Not a problem. It's Tammy, the liberal Methodist, who freaked out, who didn't want me around her kid.
Silence. I hear about Tammy and her family from my mother's weekly telephone calls, but I have no contact.
Then, after six years of ostracism, Tammy shows up at the 2002 Birthday Barbecue, bearing gifts, asking if I have met "a special guy," chatting and joking as if nothing has happened.
Approaching 40, she has become plump, almost zaftig.
Her husband Terry is bald and buffed, almost ready to become a leather daddy.
And Joseph, age 12, is slim, fey, and theatrical. He has done some modeling for magazines, starred in a local tv commercial, and now he is starring in a community theater production of The Little Prince.
"Oh, you have to come!" Tammy exclaims. "It would mean so much to him!"
I hate The Little Prince, and I doubt that the fey, theatrical blond cares very much about a guy he hasn't seen since he was five years old, but I go.
The next day, Tammy invites me out for pizza. "You have to tell Joseph all about your life in New York! Didn't you meet a lot of Broadway stars? And Andrew Lloyd Weber?"
The full story is on Tales of West Hollywood