PROULX: Taking mom to Montreal Pride
Shaun Proulx and his mom bonded over Pride festivities in Montreal. SHAUN PROULX/ INSTAGRAM
SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS
I can't decide if I feel for or if I admire the clever little lad I was, lying on the 1970's broadloom of our home in rural Ontario one day flipping through a hardcover book my father had bought me to deal with my recent inquiries about the birds and the bees.
In great detail, which made my eyes glaze over, it explained how women and men made love.
As I lay on the floor, my mother stepping over me carrying laundry, I seized the opportunity to figure something out that troubled me.
I told her I thought my new art teacher might be gay.
I had no valid reason to believe he was, but since my mother knew I was reading a book about sex, and I knew I had been attracted to males since I could remember, this was my chance to try to find out - without raising any rainbow flags - if I had a safe haven in her.
I knew well what my father thought of gay men (not fit for print) but what was my mother's attitude towards the future me?
"Well, if he's gay, feel sorry for him. He doesn't know what he's missing," she argued.
I remember my heart sinking deep into the broadloom, as I turned back to pictures of heterosexual intercourse.
I recalled that memory vividly two weekends ago and decades later when I took my mother to her first Pride festival ever in sexy Montreal, which throws an LGBTQ+ celebration par excellence each August.
Immediately upon arrival, it was time to do a special episode of my SiriusXM chat show, mum in tow.
She listened intently as my guests shared the moving trajectory of their lives as LGBTQ+ people.
Mum was especially keen when one guest talked about watching a parade back in his closeted years - from a full city block away - afraid to step any closer to it, literally unable to physically move towards his own authenticity We gave my mother a round of applause to acknowledge attending her first Pride.
"She's been a widow for over 30 years. I think, if we can put a man on the moon, maybe this weekend we can put a woman on her," I announced during the clapping, and when everyone at the taping turned to her in utter horror, she merely rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders like maybe it wasn't actually such a bad idea.
"Why are there still problems over this?" my mother asked later that day at the Nelly Furtado concert, observing masses of people there to see the Canadian superstar, no one distinguishable from any one else as queer or not.
I introduced her to a man from our military I just happened to have met, who spearheaded the historic inclusion of over 50 LGBTQ+ soldiers who were to march two days later in the Pride parade - for the very first time.
I left them to chat when, moments later, something that rhymes with "great butt" caught my eye, not worried at all about any social awkwardness from her as I would have once been.
My mother isn't a gregarious or demonstrative person, you have to read between the lines. But having known her - gosh, since birth, I guess - I can safely say she won't remember ever having said what she did all those years ago. She entered my world that weekend and saw what I was "missing" because I am a gay man: beautiful loving friends (she especially took to the award-winning lesbian film director who joined us at Montreal's botanical gardens), a rewarding and successful career (one culled sometimes from my very homosexuality) and respect of those friends and colleagues alike.
I am missing nothing. In fact, that Sunday, when our country's very own prime minister - walking alongside the leader of Ireland - came down the parade route, cheers of appreciation from the crowd so loud it was almost deafening filling the air, I watched my mother as she drank it all in. And I knew she knew she has a son no one could feel sorry for, either.
Because not only was he not missing out on anything, he actually has it all - and then some.
The Shaun Proulx Show's #SummerOfYes series airs on SiriusXM Canada Talks channel 167 through September. He is the publisher of TheGayGuideNetwork.com and leads a #ThoughtRevolution about busting through personal limits on ShaunProulx.com