Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bobby Flay Made My Cousin Gay

My cousin sees something in Bobby Flay that I don't.

Note: Thanks to Donna for the inspiration.

I have a cousin who shall be referred to in this blog as Nathan. His mother, who is my father's sister and therefore my aunt, shall be called Therese. The names have been changed in this blog to protect both the innocent and guilty. I'll leave it to the reader to determine exactly whom falls into which category.

Nathan, bless is soul, has been gay probably since before his forced exit from the womb. (He was twelve days overdue, and labor induction was unsuccessful, so he was delivered via Caesarean section. I don't think that's particularly relevant, though my Aunt Celeste -- strongly devoted both to anti-Caesarean and anti-gay movements --would tell you otherwise.) I've known Nathan was gay since long before I even knew there was such a thing as gay. When I first heard of the concept of homosexuality, Nathan was my personification for the condition, as in, "Oh! Like Nathan!"

In the unenlightened 1990's when he was growing up, a great deal of murmuring was heard among family members regarding Nathan's rather effeminate nature. Even in the dark ages, my own parents were relatively open to the idea of one's sexuality not being a matter of choice. Still, the degree to which Nathan pinged bothered my dad a bit.  "It's not so much that he carries a purse,"  my dad would say. (Several of my mom's cast-off purses were in my stash of dress-up clothing.) "It's how he carries the purse."  My dad said he didn't really care about anyone's sexuality as long as whatever happened did so behind closed doors. Still, Nathan's overly effeminate demeanor made him a bit uncomfortable, or at least pretending not to notice it bothered my dad. He said numerous times that being around Nathan with the rest of the family and pretending there was nothing about Nathan to bother the LDS segment of the family  My dad described witnessing the young Nathan dressing in drag and painting his nails in front of the family as like being in a room with a giant flamingo and pretending not to notice it.

Nathan loved trying on the formal gowns from my mom's high school years, and only wore heels that matched, usually consulting with my mom to ensure he'd made the best choice. He was quick to criticize my shoe selection in my dress-up kit, and complained that his mommy's shoes were much prettier. (In retrospect, that's probably where all the family's money went. Nathan's father was an MD and presumably brought in a decent salary, but  parents have hit my parents up for help with mortgage payments or other expenses several time throughout the year.) Nathan likewise disparaged  my nail polish and lipstick selections as well selection. All I ever had as a kid had was what my mom threw out.  She's never been into upscale beauty products, probably because she doesn't need all that much in order to look nice. She's naturally pretty. She probably buys her makeup from Walgreen's.

Anyway, Nathan's interests were never typical for a boy his age, not that there's anything wrong with a boy not being interested in sports, outdoor pursuits, model airplanes, chemistry or anything else along those lines. My earliest recollection of Nathan would have been when I was two and he was five. He and I were both in attendance at a family reunion in some LDS-owned luxury cabin somewhere in Utah.
He brought with him in a duffel bag his rather extensive collection of Beanie Babies, and warned all the other children not to touch them.  I was a rather oppositional child, and took his warning as an invitation to grab the elephant Beanie Baby and run as fast as I could with it. Instead of chasing me, Nathan let loose with a high-pitched shriek that got the attention of everyone, including the security personnel who patrolled the property 24/7. My dad chased me down, which was a good thing, as once he finished his shriek, Nathan took a deep gulp of air, then held his breath until Peanut the Elephant was returned to him.  Therese gave me a look that would have sent me six feet under if looks could actually accomplish such a thing. She still hates me to this day, and I suspect my theft of Peanut the Elephant is the main reason, as the two of us have had little direct contact since that time.

Anyway, at some point right after he returned home from his LDS mission a year or so ago, Nathan became interested in food, or at least in the Food Network. He had finished his mission mid-semester so was not enrolled in any college courses. He essentially commandeered the family room television and watched Food Network programming nonstop during all of his waking hours. He periodically attempted to recreate a culinary masterpiece he saw while watching, but mostly he just watched. And drooled.  Bobby flay became a particular favorite, though he also watched anything he could find with either Tyler Florence or Giada de Lorentis.

Aunt Therese eventually noticed her son's fixation with the Food Network and, through some epiphany, noticed for the first time her son's effeminacy.  Therese considered it very much a cause/effect scenario. Watching Food Network programming had made her son effeminate, Therese said, ignoring twenty-one years of feminine behavior on Nathan's part. Therese immediately called my mother, who is a licensed clinical psychologist. That faction of the family seriously believes that if a person shows homosexual tendencies, consultation with a psychiatrist is in order.

My mother said she tried to be gentle in speaking with my aunt. She told my aunt that Nathan is who he is and that watching the Food network would not cause him to be a homosexual if he were not already one. This came as a relief to Therese, who assumed my mother meant Nathan couldn't possibly be gay, which she never said and certainly didn't mean to imply. My mom told Therese that it seemed as though Nathan was replacing one addiction -- his mission (or something or someone from his mission, though my mother didn't specify this) -- with another addiction, which was the Food Network. My mother's concern was not that Nathan was watching the Food Network, but that he had so much time on his hands that he could spend every waking hour watching the Food Network. My mom recommended to Therese that she insist that Nathan either get a job or do volunteer work.

Therese didn't follow my mom's advice. Instead, she called her cable provider and had all cooking channels blocked. Nathan still watches on his computer, but his mother doesn't know about it, which is a good thing, as Therese probably considers it pornography. Nathan is now carrying fifteen units at BYU, but he still finds time to feed his Bobby Flay addiction.


  1. The Food Network does twisted things to people! Thank you for this post, Alexis, and for crediting me with its inspiration. The next time I ask my son to hold my purse, I'm going to be very aware of "how" he holds it.

  2. LOL… kind of reminds me of the episode of South Park dedicated to "food porn". It sounds like Nathan may have some gender identity issues, too. Do you think he might be transgendered? That's got to be extremely tough in an LDS household.

  3. Donna, you would be wise to note HOW any male holds a purse, at least according to my dad.

    Knotty, I asked my mom what she though about Nathan's gender identity issues. She's not sure because we haven't seen a whole lot of Nathan since he returned from his mission, but she thinks he's probably happy enough to be male, but that he desirs other males sexually. According to another cousin, he frequents thr gay hangouts in northern central Utah. He'll end up here, because when he's either caught or he comes to terms with his sexuality, his parents will toss him out, and my parents and uncles here will have to get him through college.

    1. You know, your comment is especially timely for me today. I might have to write a third blog post. Thanks.