I was raised in an old school Irish Catholic family. I remember the first time I was ever discriminated against, it was by my Uncle Kevin and I was 5 years old. It was my birthday and my whole family came to my grandmother’s house to celebrate. I had always been the liberated child that gave away free hugs (of course that was only if they had a present).
I was running around to all my aunts and uncles, playing with my Aunt Patsy’s hair and asking my Uncle Mark for bear-hugs. It was a day full of laughter, cake and presents. My Uncle Kevin drove there on his motorcycle, you could hear him from all the way down the street. I was so excited for my friends to meet my rebel uncle. As soon as he opened the door, I ran to him with my arms open when he put his hand on my shoulder stopping me from going any further. “Men shake”, he said holding out his hand as if the handshake was going to cure me of all my childhood gayness.
My mother was reminding me of that story the other day. It’s wierd because you would think I would have been embarrased, or sad that he wouldn’t give me a simple hug. I simply just moved on to my Uncle Tommy, he was a better hugger anyway. In retrospect, I realized how much love I had standing behind me; even at such a young age. My big Irish immigrant grandfather, who served in the war let me go as far as putting blue extensions in his hair. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because in a family who’s religion was primarily against anyone living an “alternative lifestyle,” they pretty much focused on the one verse “Judge not less ye be judged.”
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