Life in the Turner Family

By Turner, Guinevere | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), October 28, 1997 | Go to article overview

Life in the Turner Family


Turner, Guinevere, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


I grew up in a commune, isolated from the rest of the world. After I left, at age 12, I put so much energy into trying to fit in that I took a long time to realize I was different in more ways than just my upbringing.

I was about 13 when I first asked my mom, "What would you do if I turned out to be gay?" Her response was, "I would think I had done something seriously wrong with your upbringing." This disturbed me, not because I thought I was gay but because it was such an uncharitable opinion coming from a woman who otherwise wanted to save the whales and the crack babies of the world.

I was 18 when I first nervously acted on my jumbled attractions and 21 when I decided I was all-the-way gay. My mother's reaction ranged from I've made such bad choices in my life; how can I judge your choices?" to "No one in this family is normal; why would I expect you to be?" Both of which are barbed forms of acceptance but neither of which is a bad start. I think she's now starting to feel that it makes her cool and in the know.

My father, well I never really told him straight up. I made Go Fish; he saw it and said it had "the real making of a cult classic." I got videotaped without my knowledge drunk in a taxicab coming on to the female driver. It was on TV. He wrote me a card saying, "Caught you on late-night TV. Talk about a coincidence! And talk about wasted!" So all I can say is, I guess he knows, and if it really upset him, he would have said something by now.

GUINEVERE: Did you know I was gay before I told you?

ELIZABETH: No.

Never crossed your mind?

Truly didn't. Never crossed my mind at all. The context in which you told me was a letter, and what you said was, "I think I might be." So I didn't know what to make of it.

So that doesn't really count as my telling you I was gay, does it?

No I mean I guess you never told me. …

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