I read an interview of Alice Walker in this months Writer's Digest. Then I went to her blog. I loved her writing. I responded in her comment section to thoughts she kicked up. As usual I write too much, so I had to edit, edit and edit some more to get it down to the number of words they insist upon. She'll never read it so I am not sure why I spent so much time. I guess it has to do with knowing the writing is really for the writer. I love reading others. And then I love responding. That's enough.
As I read I could hear my Uncle Joe spouting his opinion of Alice Walker. He was angry at her Color Purple, the book and movie. Being a black man he felt she dishonored black men in the movie. They were the enemy. He called her a Lesbian, as if it was a bad word. I had no idea whether she was or wasn't at the time. I said, "Uncle Joe, what difference does that make? It's a book. A movie. A point of view. And so few people of color get the attention she is getting, especially women. There are very few black women published. Isn't that wonderful in of itself?" He shook his head and was silent. My Aunt Lalla eyed me and I got her message, to shut up.
Days later Aunt Lalla told me I came close to being banished from the house by Uncle Joe. He was a tyrant in his home, of the school that men rule the roost. "Don't argue with him if you want to visit. I love you and need your company so keep your mouth shut." Lalla explained how she lived with his overbearing self. "I told him early on, I will nod my head. I will smile as you wish. But I want you to know you cannot rule my mind." She did not agree with his point of view about Alice Walker but her marriage of 40 years survived because of her cunning. Aunt Lalla did not care if Alice Walker is Lesbian or not. She was thrilled to see a woman say her mind and rewarded for it.
Then the forbidden subject some how was brought up. Aunt Lala's #1 son was, and is, Gay. Supposedly, Uncle Joe did not know it, which I found absurd. Every one knew it. All the cousins, kids like me and my sister who were nieces-of-the-heart knew it. His two brothers knew it. None of us kids cared. And now I discovered his mother knew, and did not care either. But Uncle Joe refused to acknowledge it and so Aunt Lalla kept her mouth closed. It was the ridiculous family secret, kept from one person!
Memory is such a gift. I have spent the morning with Aunt Lalla and Uncle Joe, people I loved and who loved me. Such a surprising side effect to reading a magazine article that sent me on this path.