Humans
12:46 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Mom No Longer 'Dumb' About Gay Son

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:21 pm

OutLoud, a new StoryCorps project, records and amplifies the voices of the LGBTQ community.

Ninety-year-old Rita Fischer remembers the phone call she got when her son Jay Fischer told her he is gay. It was the 1980s, and she says she had no idea.

"When you called and came out, it was quite a shock. I had no inkling--none whatsoever. You tell me you're gay, and I said, 'Listen. Give me a half hour to come to myself, and I'll call you back,'" she tells her son on a visit to StoryCorps in New York City.

She did call him back. She said "this is not a telephone discussion. I think you best come speak with dad and I. But don't worry; we're going to love you the same way."

Her son Jay, now 65, says he thought she knew. "When you talked about not knowing about me being gay, I mean, I consider you a lot of things, but dumb isn't one of them. And I had left so many clues. I had somebody over for three times a week for five years."

"In your house. I had a f*** buddy."

"That's what you call them? F*** buddies?" Rita says. "I don't know what you call them, but I didn't know, and that's all. I would not be so dumb now. I have what they call gaydar."

She says a "very high point" was taking part in Jay and his partner Michael's commitment ceremony. "Dad I and were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. And you suggested that we make it a joint celebration. And when dad and I walked you down that aisle. I was so overwhelmed that I thought I was going to drop dead from a heart attack. It was one of my bursting moments of pride," Rita tells her son.

"I consider you a blessing to both me and Michael. And that's as best as I can put it," Jay says.

"I think straight parents should be involved with their gay children. I told everybody and anybody who would listen to me, that I had a gay son and that I was very proud of my gay son."

Audio produced for Tell Me More by Jud Esty-Kendall.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's take a minute now for a moment from StoryCorps. That's the project aimed at building the largest archive of personal stories anywhere. They have now launch an initiative called OutLoud to record the voices of LGBTQ people over different generations telling the stories. Today we hear from 90-year-old Rita Fisher and her son Jay. They interviewed each other at StoryCorps booth in New York City and recalled a conversation they had in the 1980s when Jay first told Rita he was gay. This is probably a good time to mention that there are a number of, let's say, adult words in their chat we bleeped them out.

RITA FISCHER: When called came out it was quite a shock. I had no inkling, none whatsoever. You tell me a you're gay and I said listen, give me a half an hour to come to myself and I'll call you back. And so I did call back, and I said this not telephone discussion, I think you best come speak with dad and I. But don't worry, we're going to love you the same way.

JAY FISCHER: When you talked about not knowing about me being gay I mean, I consider you a lot of things but dumb isn't one of them. And I had left so many clues.

R. FISCHER: I don't know what clues you're talking about.

J. FISCHER: I had somebody over three times a week for five years.

R. FISCHER: In my house?

J. FISCHER: In your house. I had a [bleep] buddy.

R. FISCHER: That's what you call them? [bleep] buddies?

J. FISCHER: I call them a lot of things but...

R. FISCHER: (Laughing) I don't know what you call them, but I didn't know and that's all. I would not be so dumb now. I have what they call gaydar.

J. FISCHER: God bless.

R. FISCHER: I can pick them up in a minute. And the very high point for me was when you Jay, and Michael had your commitment ceremony. Dad and I were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and you suggested that we may get a joint celebration. And when dad and I walked you down that aisle, I was so overwhelmed that I thought I was going to drop dead from a heart attack. It was one of my bursting moments of pride.

J. FISCHER: I consider you a blessing to both me and Michael, and that's as best as I can put it. I think straight parents should be involved with their gay children. I told everybody and anybody who would listen to me that I had a gay son, and that I was very proud of my gay son.

MARTIN: That was Rita Fischer speaking with her son Jay, in New York. Their interview is part of StoryCorps OutLoud, recording the stories of the LGBTQ community. If there's was somebody you would like to interview or to add your own story to the Library of Congress visit storycorps.org. And you can hear more StoryCorps in their latest podcast which can be found on iTunes at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.