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My mom comes out: mom had gotten the role of Aunt Cora, an elderly Southern lesbian, in our movie as a personal favor to me. And not only was she not weirded-out by kissing another woman on film, she was actually good at it.

So moved by a bridesmaid's speech comparing the groom to an "unexpected Christmas present," 72-year-old Aunt Cora spontaneously rose from her seat. With all eyes on her, she proclaimed with an open heart, "Millie has been my unexpected Christmas present for 47 years, and it's time I unwrapped the wrapper!" Then she hoisted up her longtime friend and companion, Millie, and kissed her.

It was a magical moment for me--but it wasn't real. We were on a movie set in Encino, Calif., and Aunt Cora wasn't really an eccentric Southern lesbian who was coming out but my mother, Myrna Goldberg, a nice Jewish lady from New Jersey. Mom had gotten the small part as a personal favor to me, the film's screenwriter. She was not weirded-out at the idea of playing a lesbian and kissing another woman on film--she was actually good at it.

Fifteen years earlier, Mom had responded with shock and dismay when I came out to her. "I wish you would have told us sooner," she said. "We could have gotten you some help." For years thereafter our relationship was tense and wrought with mutual hurt and disappointment. We went from best friends to emotional strangers.

These days Mom couldn't be prouder. During the two weeks she and Dad stayed with my girlfriend, Belinda, and me during the film shoot, we'd wake up every morning to hear her bragging to friends long-distance. "I tell you it's funny. Really. Funny," she'd repeat like a mantra into her cell phone. "I'll have Paula send you a copy of the script."

The full-circle moment came when Mom, curling up at the foot of our bed, told Belinda and me that this had been one of her best experiences. It was one of my best as well, to see her so happy and so engaged in my life.

When I came out to my mother she embarked on a journey that ended with Aunt Cora's coming-out scene. After years of shame and contusion, Mom had finally unwrapped the wrapper and discovered me, the same daughter she'd always loved, who just so happens to be gay. It's the kind of unexpected Christmas present that a nice Jewish lady from Jersey can cherish.

As told to Belinda Baldwin. Look for Out at the Wedding at film festivals.
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Title Annotation:SCREENWRITER: Paula Goldberg
Author:Baldwin, Belinda
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Nov 7, 2006
Words:384
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