On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Vin Traverso struggles to cope with a kind of stonewalling in his own family.
“Want to go fishing on Friday?” he asked. I hadn’t spoken to my father in weeks, the latest bout of silent treatment toward a man who has refused to accept, discuss, or even acknowledge his son’s homosexuality. “I’m not sure I can BS that long,” I countered, stonewalling him.
Years after coming out, our retrenched détente of “don’t ask, don’t tell” became unworkable. I poked: talking about my dating life in common company, he would bristle and quickly change the subject. I prodded: bringing provocatively named bottles of wine – like “Château Haut Gay” – to dinners, he would get up and silently go about the dishes. If accept, discuss, acknowledge were off the table, perhaps I could coax him into reject, inveigh, or belittle.
At least they’re reactions to contend with; better to hit walls than spin wheels. But nothing worked. He was stonewalling me… obstructing debate, delaying progress. So, I returned his roaring silence with a vindictive embargo. Want to chat? Say it: “My gay son.”
It seemed brave to force the issue. Isn’t that what they did with marriage equality? And during the AIDS crisis? And at Stonewall?