Not long before we left for Spain, we attended a cocktail party on the verandah of a neighbor’s porch in Maine. There are about 30 homes in our little park, and summer people probably own 15 of them. Since it’s such a small community, obviously there is lots of gossip. For example, only certain people were invited to the party. Others, like the family with the $5 million home on the hill who cut down all the trees on communal property to improve their ocean view, were not invited.
A few years ago, a gay couple moved into the neighborhood, and caused quite a stir. They bought a tiny cottage on a high rocky perch and built a huge, gorgeous, purple house. The buzz increased to a fever pitch when one of the men, presumably the breadwinner, mysteriously died. Nobody was saying anything bad, that we heard, but they couldn’t stop talking about the GAY couple – or speculating about what happened.
Since summer houses on the Maine coast often change hands, there are always new families or couples coming and going from our neighborhood. In fact, the cocktail party was being thrown to honor a family from Brooklyn Heights who had just moved in. And, as we chatted with our gin and tonics, someone mentioned to us that a new older couple had bought another giant house on a bluff by the water. A few people nearby turned to say they had met them, and their plans for the house had been very lovely. Our dear mother had even brought over some chutney to them, and said hello.
As we walked home from the party, still carrying our drinks, we asked our mom about the newest couple.
“Oh, they’re very nice,” she said. “One of them is a doctor, and the other guy owns a gallery.”
“Wait, what? They ‘other guy’? It’s a gay couple?” we asked.
“Oh, yeah,” my mother said.
“No one even mentioned that they were gay, once, at the party,” we said.
“Oh. Well, they are,” said my mom. And then we gave her a hug.
A recent poll came out stating that seven out of ten Americans know a gay person. This is great news. Opinion polls on equal rights issues don’t reflect this exposure, sadly. But we still harbor hope that for every new neighbor out there who is gay, there will also be a cocktail party where people forget to mention it.