Legally Queer: My Wacky Family Weekend

Photo by Kyle Kaplan '15 | “Explaining her quirks often requires showing my friends pictures of her posing in between two go-go boys wearing a leopard dress and a rainbow feathered boa,” says Kyle Kaplan of her mother, pictured above.

Photo by Kyle Kaplan ’15 | “Explaining her quirks often requires showing my friends pictures of her posing in between two go-go boys wearing a leopard dress and a rainbow feathered boa,” says Kyle Kaplan of her mother, pictured above.

 

Kyle Kaplan ’15
Arts Editor

“She was like Elle Woods,” my mom explained to my girlfriend over Sunday brunch on Family Weekend. “We had to send in a video of her talking because she missed the personal interview stage for students interested in Smith. So, we had this video of her talking. She didn’t know I filmed her whole speech.” I remember coming home from high school almost three years ago, to the news that the Smith College Admittance Office had been sent a video of me sharing my greatest insecurities about my sexual orientation that I had disclosed in an anti-bullying rally. Immediately, I pictured a room full of admission faculty stiffly watching me stand behind a podium, wearing a trench coat and stuttering through a two-page speech I had written the night before. I remember that my feeling of embarrassment was cut off by the sudden onset of horror when my mom went on to say, “And now they want me to write a letter explaining who you are! I should tell them about the apple-pressing incident, wouldn’t that be funny?”

It’s hard for me to describe my mother, aside from as a humorous, caring, big personality; explaining her quirks often requires showing my friends pictures of her posing in between two go-go boys wearing a leopard dress and a rainbow feathered boa. Laughing, I will often pass them my phone, as I did the night of Hampshire Halloween. “How do I get to Hampshire Halloween? I have a great costume, big wings, purple hair … an owl …” read the text I got two hours after preparing to get on the B43 in more ways than putting on too much makeup (my mom wholly approved of the result). That weekend, she frequently demanded my friends unbutton their coats so she could fawn over their outfits, not neglecting to mention clothes she had like them in her own closet, which she frequently sees me walk out the door wearing. “Sometimes I spend two weeks looking for my favorite sweater, and then I see it walking out the door on the way to a party to be ruined beyond repair,” my mom laughs, her eyes widening as she tries to get me to admit to the one time I came home with a small soda stain on the corner of one of her clubbing dresses.

Family Weekend was the first time most of my friends had met my mother, and as usual, as I’ve always admired about her, she was unapologetically herself. Every time my girlfriend and I held hands, she’d express her approval with a loud “awww,” standing next to my father, who was careful to photograph every time I even made eye contact with someone else, or picked my nose, or if he saw someone on the street picking their nose. Just two weeks ago, my father uploaded a photo album to his Facebook page of my mom at three separate parties, pouting her lips to the camera, her blond hair teased in a way that didn’t fit in the shot. “I want to look like a drag queen,” she told me once, when I asked about her wig and multicolored contact lens collection. “They’re so gorgeous.” My mom still makes fun of me for my reaction to Dykes on Bikes when I was six, at my first New York gay pride parade. I grew up borrowing dresses from our many family friends who perform as drag queens, being taken to shows and thinking that Cher sounded just like her friend Sweetie.

At the end of the weekend, my friends asked me if they could friend my mom on Facebook, where one of the first pictures on her Timeline is her holding the Aflac duck, who she told me “looks just like a little person.” I told them it was also okay to friend my dad too – as long as they didn’t mind that he posts pastels he does of naked women and occasionally my grandma praying at least once a week.

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