This weekend, I rented and watched The Birdcage. This is one of those movies that I love to watch every now and then, as it never fails to make me laugh. Of course, this time, I also noticed another reason I loved this movie.
When Val first asks Armand to “tone down” the house and “act straight” during his future in-laws’ visit, Armand responds quite negatively and vehemently. The groom-to-be’s father indicates quite clearly that he is a “middle aged fag” and happy with himself. He further goes on to point out that he didn’t spend years getting to the point he was at to hide now. In fact, it’s my memory of that speech that inspired me to rent the movie for this weekend.
That statement reflects the driving principle of myself right now, self-acceptance and self-expression. After all, these are the central themes of not only gay pride, but pride in general. It’s the growing realization of who I am, what I want to be, what I like, and what I want. Beyond realization, it’s the constant choice of embracing these things and seeking them out. It is the never-ending choice of being true to myself and the deep desires of my being and allowing nothing to deter me from it.
Of course, I think I can really identify with this movie because it hits close to home in another way. Towards the end, Barbara’s father asks her how many other lives she must “ruin” in order to be happy. While such a question is over the top and unfair, it does point out that while it’s easy to take an outlook of “the world be damned” in general, our choices do affect those close to us in various ways. And that’s never an easy thing to grapple with.
I’m struggling with this in my own life right now. For various reasons, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that I need to put a pride sticker on my car. And in many ways, it’s something I want to do, because it’s important to me. And yet, for the last few years, I have refrained from doing so because of the problems it could cause in my family. After all, I drive this car to family reunions and similar events.
To be honest, if my only concern was that certain members in my extended family would give me grief over it, I’d go ahead anyway. I’ve accepted that some of my relatives are self-righteous jerks, and I’m perfectly fine with that. After all, I don’t really have to spend any time with them. After all, I don’t even have to go to family functions, and have certainly skipped a significant number of them in the past.
However, I also know that those same family members would not restrict themselves to making comments to me. I know they will most likely make comments to my parents. I’ve seen them do it in the past. I listened as they made hurtful comments to another aunt and uncle when their own daughter made choices that the rest of the family decided were “inappropriate” and “immoral.” And the thought of my own parents going through such an experience because of my choices is a bitter pill to swallow.
And yet, I’m coming to realize that it’s still my life. It’s still my choice. And making my choices for my parents’ sake rather than following my own path is ultimately just another way of failing to be true to myself. So as painful as it may be, I know I need to follow my own heart and hope my parents find the strength to endure.