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Q: Dear Laurie,
I have been divorced for 16 years and am starting to date again at the age of 40. My question is this: At what point should I tell my WHITE boyfriend that my ex-husband was BLACK (I am an ASIAN-PACIFIC ISLANDER)? I have not been serious with anyone since the failed marriage and am not even sure how to deal with the situation. For me, race is not an issue, but I don't know 'when' to reveal that part of my past. Any input would help. Thanks.
Signed: Me, unsure of next step
A: Unsure ASIAN-PACIFIC ISLANDER,
Sixteen years! Wow, welcome back! I took three off at one point and, upon re-entry, felt like the robot character in "Sleeper". One thing to always keep in mind (and something you may have gathered from reading this column): everyone's fucked up in their own special way. No one has all the answers (except for meJ) and very few really have it together so whatever funkadelia you're feeling about being in a relationship again, your WHITE boyfriend is probably feeling it double.
Your question: "At what point should I tell my WHITE boyfriend that my ex-husband was BLACK?" Now. Yesterday. When you first began having the feeling that you wanted to tell your WHITE boyfriend that your ex was BLACK. More importantly: when you first began worrying that if you told your WHITE boyfriend about your BLACK ex that he'd leave you.
Bingo, hmmm? I thought so. I mean, why else would this be an issue for you? Who cares that your ex was BLACK? You're an ASIAN-PACIFIC ISLANDER (congratulations). I happen to be WHITE. Some of my best friends are.
As your current lover I'd care more, much more, if your ex was some sort of abusive creepy loser, a pimp who dressed poorly, or a close friend of Tony Soprano. If your current beau is going to dump you over, or is freaked out by, the fact that your previous husband was BLACK wouldn't you rather know that sooner than later? Wouldn't you want to know so you could send him packing to be with his other skinhead brethren in northern Idaho? Why, yes, you would!
Anytime you're ashamed/embarrassed/afraid to divulge personal information to a significant other, well, by golly, that's the time divulgification (yes, I made that up) is most necessary. A life lived in fear--and roads not taken--is no life at all. Instead, it's an insidious form of settling and compromise in the most negative sense.
The Short Answer: Where to find the courage to face your fears? Deep inside. (Play Ashram music here please.) I'M SERIOUS (don't whisper that one). You' ve got to have high-minded personal convictions and a strong realistic sense-of-self to make it in this world. Once you have an inkling about all that you've got to protect it which means standing up for beliefs and surrounding yourself with good-hearted souls.
What a nice surprise it will be when you finally get this concern off your PAN-ASIAN chest and find out that your WHITE boyfriend couldn't give a shit that your ex was BLACK. You find out he likes/loves you for you; your feelings for each other deepen; you thank god you're no longer single, and live happily ever after (play Mac Davis' "Having my Baby" here).
Sound of needle scratching on record or CD player falling to ground: And, if not? Should WHITE boyfriend prove to be the narrow-minded racist lout you pegged him for? Alas, curl up on your kitchen floor with Al Green for a few weeks and call it a day (for those born after 1980 substitute Macy Gray).
Lovingly and Logically yours, Laurie