Driving to a relationship

Adam Griffiths

We’re a week away from Thanksgiving and less than six from Christmas, and that nagging, pit-of-the-stomach feeling is setting in. No, not the one you get in expectation of eight-course meals that make napping and Lycra so essential. That other one – the one you get when you go home for the holidays, when you’re sitting around the table reveling in the fun of family and friends, and it finally hits you: You’re on the brink of adulthood, and you’re single.

And maybe it’s the tryptophan or the third glass of wine, but that feeling can hit you harder than a third round of dessert and coffee while fielding the redundant questions you’ve answered for various relatives countless times in a mere hour. I don’t remember a family dinner where one, if not the majority, of my cousins brought their boyfriend or girlfriend to dinner with them. Girlfriends became fiancées. Fiancées became wives, and wives became cousins-in-law who’ve led to first cousins once removed. (Google searching family order is not easy.)

Not only have I always been one of the few uncoupled relatives in the room, but also being the bastard grandchild, nephew and cousin, at least on my dad’s side of the family, often augments the loneliness instigated by the couple’s bazaar. While everyone coos over the latest additions to our clan, I engage in rather insignificant catch-up because I haven’t seen everyone in months. Maybe I’m guilty of secluding myself from my family, but when you come out to your grandmother, and she responds by telling you she’s “bombarding the gates of heaven with prayer requests” for your salvation, it doesn’t make for the most relaxed attitude as you pass food around the table.

While it’s arguable that I’m not giving anyone much of a chance here, there’s something to be said for outstaying one’s welcome. Since I came out to my family three years ago, the uneasiness I felt that I’ve always felt around that side of the family has grown in awkwardness. There are my cousins – sports stars in high school, good Christians and increasingly settling down within miles of their parents. And then there’s me – reporting for a story on gay porn, sitting on gender issues panels and itching to escape the Midwest mind drain.

My cousins have their mortgages and are likely to be planning for their child’s college fund. If I could find a boyfriend at this point, we’d be most likely hooking up with another couple before we even considered the damage last weekend’s shopping spree did to our financial situations. Granted, all of these things are the symptoms of our respective ages, but while I may pay more attention to my credit card bill and more seriously consider the possibility of children when I’m older, I don’t see myself logging off of cruising sites anytime soon. I often think about what my relationship will be with my cousin’s children on that side of the family. Sure, I’ll be the gay uncle, but how will they think of me? If one of them happens to be gay, will I be a role model in their lives, or will I be an example of how not to end up?

The argument about family values and equality never really hits home with me, but as another holiday season full of long meals and more time together, the reality of this situation gets more play in my mind. I’ll still be going to dinner, of course, and playing the good relative, but I’m not quite sure how long I can keep it up, or should, for that matter.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore information design major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]