Me and Mr. Jones: A skeleton in my clan’s closet

I’m surprised there were no poofs caught in the net of that Russian spy haul last week. The connection between espionage and the “friends of Dorothy” is well-documented with names such as Guy Burgess and Anthony Blount.

It all makes perfect sense: We gays have a much greater familiarity than the average breeder with the concept of secrecy, spending, as we are obliged to do, our early years wrapped in a feather boa of undisclosed thoughts and desires. With good reason, too. If I had told anyone at my Secondary Modern School that all I wanted to do was dance the frug with David Hemmings—remember him from Blow-Up?—they would have turned me into Piggy, as in Lord of the Flies.

My gay secret life was at its naughtiest and most clandestine when watching TV. Although we Doonans might all have appeared to be staring at the same box, I was focused on very specific aspects of the program content, and getting all hot and bothered in the process. While my mum and dad were watching Lloyd Bridges’ underwater adventures in Sea Hunt, I was focused on his other harpoon, if y’all know what I’m sayin’.

This is not to say that the straight Doonies did not have their own share of secrets. For example: When I was in my late 20s, I asked my parents for my original birth certificate. They had always been evasive on this issue, proffering a range of excuses. I finally put the squeeze on Betty Doonan because I needed it to process my green card.

When, reluctantly and with lowered lids, she handed over the document in question, I suspected it might contain a secret or two. I was correct. His name was Mr. Jones. Between anxious puffs on a cigarette, Betty told me that this man was her first husband, a wanker, by all accounts, who had abandoned her for some Italian broad at the beginning of the war. My mum had kept it a secret for almost 30 years.

People say that keeping secrets makes you a prisoner and releasing them sets you free. This was not the case for Betty. Her life was much better back when Mr. Jones was a shadowy memory, stuffed in a drawer. Once the cat was out of the bag, she had to deal with my relentless, stress-inducing inquisitions and reproaches.

But sometimes the discovery of a family secret can bring true happiness and genuine exaltation. Such was the case with my Jonny. When I met Jonathan Adler 15 years ago, he was a workaday potter who thought he was just like everybody else. He had no idea how very, very, very special he was. Everything changed when, about a month after I met him, he found out that … hang on to your chromosomes, girls! … his grandparents were first cousins!!

Far from inducing feelings of discomfort or shame, this revelation increased my Jonny’s joyous self-esteem about tenfold. He rebranded and repackaged this potentially concerning tidbit as follows: “I’m not inbred; I’m purebred.”

Go, Jonny, go!