Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are

Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are

by Robert Rave, Jane Rave


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312554231
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/08/2011
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

JANE RAVE grew up in a small Midwest town, doing all the things you do in a small town: cheerleading, band, and church activities. She is the mother of three, grandmother of six and has been married for forty-four years. Jane lives in Illinois.
ROBERT RAVE is the author of two novels, Spin and Waxed, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt


The End

Graduation day for a gay-in-training who’s decided to come out to his conservative Midwestern parents



Within one month of moving to New York, I sat down at my computer and began drafting what I affectionately refer to as “the message of honesty and love.” I poured my heart and soul into this letter, offering answers to every question my parents might have regarding my sexuality. At twenty-one, I viewed it as a great literary work and fantasized that one day, years after my death, it would be framed, like the letters of Virginia Wolfe.

However, my mother diminishes this great literary feat, referring to it simply as “the gay letter.” That’s my mother: sweet but definitely to the point. I’ve reprinted the letter here with its original typos and grammatical errors, all of which she’s pointed out to me.

Hey guys this is the hardest thing I have had to do in my life. This letter is not something I ever wanted to write or never wanted to have to deal with myself. For the past 21 years I kept thinking that it would pass or that things would change I think I have been fooling myself and I can no longer lie to you because I love you both so much and feel that we are extremely close to each other that it pains me more not to tell you than to keep it to myself. I might as well just lay it on the line: I am gay.

You have to understand that just as I typed that I am actually welling up because I have never officially acknowledged to myself in black and white or let alone to another person. I know this is going to be very, very painful for you to accept your hopes and dreams for me may seem like they have disappeared in many ways. Believe me, they have not. I am the same Robert, Bob, Bobby, Berto that you raised so well. I guess I am writing this letter because I am much better expressing myself through the written word sometimes as opposed to physically saying it. I get all jumbled and nervous. Plus, I wanted to give you time to think about this and react and mourn and go through all the necessary emotions and then come talk to me about it when your ready.

I don’t expect you to understand or necessary accept it right away. It has taken me 21 years to accept. The best thing I could think of to do is to give you some basic question and answers that you are probably already thinking of that you know where I am coming from instead of me just rambling on and on and making much sense.

Are you sure you are gay? Is it just a phase? Is it the way you were raised?

Well I am 100% positive that I am gay. I have tried to date women and be sexual with them but it just never connected or clicked no matter how hard I tried or how many times I tried. I just am not sexually attracted to them. For so many years I just kept lying to myself and telling myself that it would pass and the attraction would come and I just inevitably was forcing something that wasn’t there and after awhile I felt like I was headed for a breakdown because I was feeling so tormented inside by the lies I would have to tell myself and to others. There were so many nights starting about 11 or 12 where I would go to bed praying that when I woke up that I wouldn’t be gay. I did this almost every night until about age 19 when I realized either God has fallen asleep or it wasn’t going to happen. I remember wishing that I would be anything but gay. I remember saying I rather be physically handicapped then gay. As much as I thought that my being gay would pass, the stronger it became the older I got.

Was the way I raised have anything to do with my being gay?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. I have always been my own person and have chose my own interests thanks to the freedom that you both have given to me. But with all the choices and opportunities that you both have given me the choice of my sexuality was not one of them. I wish it was because I never would have chosen this. I would never have chosen to be made fun of, discriminated against, laughed at, and ridiculed. This is something that I have known from a very early age.

Is this why you moved to NYC?

NO. NO. NO. My reasons for moving out to New York are because I want to be in the city that doesn’t sleep and where I can thrive on the energy and life of a city. I want to live in a place where there is something new you can do everyday. I moved to New York to pursue my dreams. It is very frightening and exciting for me to say the least. Not only with me being up in the air about a job but with keeping this secret that I couldn’t do it no longer. I felt that if I didn’t tell you in the next couple of months I would have seriously had a breakdown with all of the stress that has been escalating and that is no exaggeration. To say that I had a lot on my mind would be a grave over-generalization.

Why tell us now?

Good question. I don’t know why this week or this day or this particular year. I just knew that I couldn’t continue to lie to you anymore. I have been extremely open with you about every other aspect of my life. This guilt has torn me apart and I couldn’t stand the sleepless nights anymore.

I didn’t like lying to you about another major aspect of who I am. It hurts me so much to know that this letter is hurting you both. The last thing I want to do is hurt you by all this. I have so much love and respect for both of you that the last thing I want to do is hurt you by this. That is why I couldn’t bear to see the expressions on both of your faces. It would literally crush me. But for the last couple years it no longer was a question of if I told you, it was more of a question of when. For my own mental welfare, it was time to tell you. It is so hard to do but in some ways as I am typing this it feels very cathartic and up lifting that lies about this major aspect of my life can now end.

Does anybody else know?

NO. I knew that you two should be the first since you two are the most important people in my life. As far as me wanting to broadcast it to the world, its not going to happen at least not right now. I have to deal with this too. My immediately family is the only people that I am really concerned about it. I don’t think that aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents really need to know at this point. I mean if they ask I won’t lie nor do I expect you to lie, but somehow I don’t see it coming up. I am not of those gay people you see on TV or in the paper with their pink flags and marching in parades although I do believe gay people deserve the same rights as the rest of the human race.

Anyway, one the reasons I never really considered myself gay was because of the images that I saw on television were not me. I am not one of those images that the media was representing on the news etc. However, as more “normal” gay people came out and lead normal lives it makes me feel a little better that the tide is changing with the perception. But back to the question, none of my friends know with the exception of Laurie whom I had to tell because I really needed someone to talk to desperately. For the rest of my friends, I am sure I will lose 75% of them when they find out. I am in no rush to tell them in fact the friends that I truly care about most of them I will tell them myself, the others if they find out won’t come from me. I just don’t want to be the embarrassment of our family. I don’t want to be the one everyone whispers about and don’t want to bring shame to you both. Although, I know that people will whisper and judge and will discriminate against me. That will be my cross to bear I suppose. We all have them. All I ask is for your continued love and eventually your support and understanding and maybe ultimately your acceptance.

Well, these were just a few questions that I could think of that you might have but I am sure you will have many more and I know that you are probably in complete and utter shock. I am so sorry to put you through this but I just couldn’t lie to you anymore. I want our relationship to be open and honest. Call me after you have had time to take it all in. I am not expecting alot and I am sure it will be rough. Please know that I love you both so very much to my core and no matter what, I am proud to be your son as I hope that no matter what gay or straight your proud to be my parents. I love you and I hope to hear from you soon.



Mama Says

It was a regular Tuesday morning. I got up around five thirty, had my breakfast, and read our local paper. It looked like it was going to be like any other day in Bloomington, Illinois. My husband, Ron, went to work early that morning for a meeting. I ran some errands—the bank, grocery store, and then a quick stop at my mom’s house for coffee—and finally returned home around twelve thirty and sat down at my kitchen table for lunch. Just as I was about to take a bite of my sandwich, our dog, Barney, started barking like he was possessed. It could only mean trouble. But this trouble was in the form of the mailman. I put down my sandwich and grabbed my overweight, temperamental shih tzu before I had a lawsuit on my hands and made my way to the mailbox.

I thumbed through the stack of mail and made a note to myself to dispose of the credit card bill before my husband saw it. (Yes, even I have a vice.) I got to the middle of the stack and saw that there was a letter from Berto. I was excited to see it, because he had been in New York for only a few months and he was already sending me an update. The letter was unusually thick, but I didn’t think much of it. In retrospect, I was a little surprised to get an actual handwritten letter as opposed to an e-mail. He was very big with the e-mails. All I thought at the time was, “Great, he has a lot to tell me about New York City.”

Well, guess what? He did have a lot to tell me, just not about New York.

I went back to the table and excitedly opened the letter, expecting to read some fun stories about his new job working at a PR firm. As I read the first paragraph, I was in complete shock. I read it over again, and the words didn’t change. The neatly formatted letter was filled with paragraphs, but all I kept seeing was Mom and Dad, I’m gay.

I thought I had better keep reading. I couldn’t even imagine what else he might have to tell me. After reading it through, my heart ached so much for my youngest son. He was so far away, and I couldn’t see his face to let him know it was okay. I felt so much sadness for him that I didn’t even realize that I had begun to cry until the tears began hitting the paper. I cried not for myself, but for my son. He was alone and didn’t feel he could tell me face-to-face. Then again, if I had been in his shoes, would I have been able to tell my mom? I guess we are all different when it comes to the dramas in our lives. I suppose I am not sure what I would have done.

I worried about the hard times he would face for the rest of his life. I watched the news, and I saw how people viewed gays and lesbians. I also didn’t live in a big city, where one is exposed to gay people on a daily basis. I heard the nasty comments that people made, and what hurt most was knowing I couldn’t protect him from the abuse and discrimination that was yet to come.

I worried he would go through it alone trying to find his true identity. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he knew who he was and could start getting on with living his life. He didn’t need to be worrying about me.

I was a middle-aged stay-at-home mom, and I never really felt as if I knew who I was, but here was my son, who knew for sure who he was. I thought, maybe this experience would force me to find out who I was, too.

It never even occurred to me to worry about what other people would think. I had never worried about it prior to this, so why would I start now? I’d leave that to the TV movies of the week. This was one of my children, and he needed me right now.

I knew what my next move had to be, no matter how difficult. I called Ron at work and interrupted his meeting. All I would tell him was to get home right away because we needed to talk. I’m sure he wondered what was going on, especially when he heard the quiver in my voice, but I thought he should read what I now refer to as “the gay letter” himself. A big part of me wanted to call Robert right away and tell him it was okay; if he could handle being gay, so could I. But my husband and I have always worked as a team when it comes to our kids, so I needed him to read it before I made a move.

While I waited for Ron to get home, I composed myself and tried to keep busy. I cleaned up the kitchen, and then I took Barney out even though I had just done so twenty minutes earlier.

I sat at the table and stared at my sandwich. How couldn’t I have seen this coming? You would think, considering how close Robert and I are, that I would have known or at least suspected. Every talk show I ever watched said the mother always knows, either subconsciously or consciously. Not me—I didn’t have a clue. Robert hadn’t been the stereotypical gay guy I’d seen on the news or in the movies. He’d always been “all boy.”

Finally, I heard the garage door go up.


Copyright © 2011 by Robert Rave and Jane Rave

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Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
the1stdaughter on LibraryThing 4 days ago
If the burden of keeping a secret was no longer something you could handle and the one person you had to tell was not only your best friend but your mother as well, would you tell her? What if this secret could potentially change the entire dynamic of your relationship? For Robert, as well as a number of people, this is a reality but fortunately for him he has the love and support of a wonderful mother & friend.Truth be told I¿m a huge fan of Robert Rave and his Chick Lit novels, but I may have a conflict now¿I think I may be a bigger fan of his mom. In a world where acceptance and reactions are still mixed toward gays I can only imagine how difficult it would be not only for the individual sharing the news with their loved ones but also for the loved ones themselves. What I¿ve learned in my short time as a parent is that children are who they are and as a parent your biggest responsibility, over any other even more so than feeding & clothing, is to love them unconditionally and let them know that every day of their lives. (That¿s just my two cents.) Jane Rave is an incredible example of this. When Robert came-out to her and his father in the hand written letter he sent, her reaction was immediately for him in regards to his long term happiness. It wasn¿t negative by any means, she simply wanted him to be happy and afforded all the opportunities we all deserve as human beings. Knowing her son the way she did, she was sure he¿d be distraught about their reaction and wanted to do whatever she could to assure him they loved him and would never judge him immediately and without question.What was truly enjoyable about this memoir, outside of the connection between Robert and his mom Jane, was the varying versions of situations through each of their eyes. The way the story was told was through situations they both experienced, first being told by Robert and then by Jane. They weren¿t always present and sometimes it was Jane¿s reaction to Robert¿s relay of the situation via phone or email, but it was often heartwarming and sometimes incredibly hilarious. What was even funnier was often his Dad¿s reaction to certain situations like the announcement he was going to get waxed. Because Robert never truly acted on his homosexuality prior to telling his parents it was as if both he and is mother were experiencing everything for the first time. Having two older children, a boy and a girl, Jane thought she¿d experienced everything. Helping her son with his boyfriend issues wasn¿t something she had anticipated but she met it with the same fever and hope she had with her first two children.After reading Conversations and Cosmopolitans I¿d definitely say I not only have a continued desire to pick up more of Robert¿s novels as they are published, but I have a huge amount of respect for his mother Jane. It¿s obvious that Robert inherited much of his writing ability from his mom as well as his ability to love. For my part, as a parent, I think I enjoyed hearing Jane¿s side of the story even more than Robert¿s because of her insights on parenting, friendship and her own personal struggles to find her own identity throughout her life. This was a positively delightful memoir to read and one I think everyone should read. This is a memoir that sheds new light on an often difficult situation for many, but is more than simply a story about a gay man coming out to his family. It¿s a story about love, hope, life and enjoying & being who we truly are.My original review was posted at Chick Lit Reviews and News.
ClifSven on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I enjoyed reading "Conversations and Cosmopolitans ¿ Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How A Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are". I know many gay men who wish their mothers were like Jane Rave! Myself included. The different perspectives on the same subject were interesting, at times comical.It is refreshing to read a book by/about a gay man that does not deal with many of the negative aspects in the life of gay men. It is also good to know that I¿m not the only one out there with all or some of the author¿s neurosis! I¿m sure a lot of gay men are, too!I would recommend this book to any young gay man who is either still in the closet or in the process of coming out.
auntangi on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I had high hopes for this book, a memoir of man¿s journey (coming out, finding his way in NYC, finding his voice) from the POV of mother and son, but I was disappointed. I never felt connected to the narrators and found Mom¿s writing, especially, to be halting and trying too hard to be clever. It took me entirely too long to read such a short book, and I believe that is because it never grabbed me. I completed it only because I received it as an Early Reviewer and had an obligation, but I do not see myself seeking out any of Mr. Rave¿s other works.
Micheller7 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I think this book took longer for me to read than any other book I have ever read, especially in light of the fact that it was relatively short, had no plot and had only two main characters. Well, it sounded good from the description, touching, poignant and laugh out loud, funny - a mother and son point, counterpoint on how the son who was gay, came out and his mom's reaction. Turned out to be so boring. Robert Rave came across as shallow and self involved, someone whose mission was to find a boyfriend.  Not a kind, caring life partner, but a Latin lover, no matter his positive qualities, ones that are essential to any real relationship. The anecdotes are all trivial. Mom's responses added nothing of interest. When Robert finally does meet someone and they move in together, there is no explanation, none at all, of how that relationship began or ended.  Robert's self absorption about his own neurosis, the pressure to stay hot and viable after age 30 and the paralyzingly fear of waking up alone every day come across just fine. But he wants his story to be authentic; instead it is filled with the worst sort of stereotypes imaginable. Don't waste your time.
ironicqueery on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Conversations and Cosmopolitans is a touching book between mother and son. Robert Rave writes a chapter of various aspects of his life - coming out, friends, trips, and so forth, and his mother, Jane Rave, gives her take on the events afterwards in the Mama Says section. It's great seeing two perspectives on various events. It makes for a revealing look at how two people view the experiences they share. This book makes for a great example of how a mother and son can open up and really get close to one another, no matter the trials and tribulations they go through.
stephivist on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This book was entirely middle-of-the-road for me. Overall, I enjoyed the story enough, but the format didn¿t really grab me and I found myself losing interest easily.
morningrob on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Conversations and Cosmopolitans by Robert and Jane Rave was not the book I expected. Based on the cover images and description, I expected a humor book. However, this book was a cross between a number of styles of writing- part memoir, part social commentary, part therapist session, and, yes, part humor. Essentially, the book is mostly writing by Robert and starts with his coming out to his parents. It then follows the ups and downs of his life- work, dating, family relations, the normal aspects of life. Interspersed between chapters are reflections by his mother. The writing is above average and the book moves along. It is not a particularly difficult read. It would have been nice to have some more commentary by his mother, I think it would have filled out the book. However, overall it was a good book. I would call it a good beach read.
frandell on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This mother-son writing team gives each other the best support one could ever need. I enjoyed reading about the intimacies that are shared and the inner-solutions that are found.
kellyatfsu on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I really enjoyed this book! It was very interesting to hear two different peoples perspectives on the same events. A touching memoir that made me laugh and cry. I would definitely recommend this book!
MaryinHB on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Robert Rave has written his memoir with the help of his mother and Jane Rave captured my heart. The first chapter opens with the letter Robert wrote his parents to tell them he is gay. All Robert remembers is that his mother pointed out all his grammatical mistakes. His mother remembers it quite differently, but that fact she didn't respond to the elephant in the room in a way to make him uncomfortable and instead focused more on his writing skills, which seems unintentional, but it is a mother's love that stays positive while she was distressed. This give and take between the two is quite magical and honest. I can really see where Robert gets his skill for words since his mother has a very conversational tone about hers. This book isn't really about Robert coming out, but more about the close relationship he shares with his mother and how that bond was built. I swear there were some points when I was thankful she asked some of the things she did and Robert had such a strong relationship with her that he could answer so honestly. There is a lot of humor woven in as well as those bittersweet moments. If you are a fan of humor-filled memoirs with a skewed look on life, then you will enjoy this one!
amhamilt on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Conversations and Cosmopolitans is an unflinchingly honest memoir of sorts written by Robert Rave after coming out to his parents. Each chapter relates an experience he had after coming out and is followed by commentary from his mother, Jane Rave.The book is written openly and honestly; the author leaves almost nothing (and I mean nothing!) out. In some places I cringe with embarrassment for Robert, and in many, many other places I laughed out loud.Rave had a pleasing writing style; I really admire his dry humor and wit. I enjoyed this book, I'll give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was a quick, entertaining read, but not something I'll read more than once. I really admire the author's courage, both in regards to coming out in the first place and certainly in regards to publishing some of the more embarrassing anecdotes.The book, in my opinion, is less about being gay, and more about developing an unbelievably honest relationship with his mother. Plus, its funny as heck. This book is self-deprecating humor at its very best.
librarianistbooks on LibraryThing 4 days ago
When I first read about this book, I expected it to be a jumbled collection of essays concerning coming out. It's actually more linear than that, with a good narrative flow. The alternating commentary from Rave's mother is a welcome addition, and occasional counterpoint, to Rave's story. The tone is kept generally light. I really liked it.
lizgatrgrl on LibraryThing 4 days ago
The memoir follows Robert as he comes out to his family and his adjustments along the way. As a child of a gay parent I was really interested in seeing how Robert's family took the news of his sexuality. There were some funny conversations between Robert and his mom and his dad is at times sarcastic and hilarious. I loved how supportive Robert's parents and wish that everyone had such a strong support system.
StephaniePetty on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Wonderful, Wonderful, Wonderful. I recently received an advance copy of this novel and I'm very glad I did. This mother/son team delivers a very accurate look into homosexual culture, as well as its effect on family life. This memoir contains some extremely eccentric New Yorkers that will keep any reader sufficiently entertained. The first thing I really enjoyed about the book was the format. The other part of the book's format that I enjoyed was the authors' alternating voices each chapter. First, the reader gets Robert's story, then mom chimes in afterward to give her perspective. This prevents them from competing for the reader's attention and creates a clear-cut separation of thoughts, opinions, and experiences during each situation presented. A 20-something gay New Yorker's perspective is clearly much different from his middle-aged Midwestern mother's. As time goes on however, we see the differences become less and less as mother and son connect on deeper levels.An author can paraphrase and summarize communications between the characters, but the Raves took it to a whole new level, including online messaging transcripts, e-mails, and letters written during the pivotal events in their lives. These give a more accurate look at the relationship between mother and son, and show the evolution of their relationship as they both become more comfortable and familiar with Robert's lifestyle, and become more comfortable in their own relationship to each other.I especially liked chapter sixteen, titled "The Daughter-in-Law You'll Never Have (Also known to my parents as my best friend Melissa). I laughed out loud several times during this chapter! The crazy antics Robert and his best friend get into during a weekend out in New York City were a welcome change from the chapters of sadness and awkwardness from loneliness, rejection, credit card debt, and trying to "make it" in the real world. I also really liked that Melissa brings Robert out of his shell more than any other person we encounter, requiring him to down massive amounts of sugar and Diet Coke to keep up with her voracious energy and enthusiasm. She's confident and suave, where as Robert is unsure and awkward. A perfectly matched duo to run amok in Central Park and Midtown, chasing guys. Clearly, I don't have anything negative to say about this book. The characters are strong and continually develop as life throws more their way. It's not only about a son's homosexuality and how the family changes once they find out, but it says a lot about the love and loyalty of a mother to her child. Despite discrimination and negative responses in a small town, Jane stands her ground on several occasions and speaks out to protect and promote her son and his lifestyle- even to close family friends. I give it four out of five stars.
kdkelly92 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This was an interesting memoir of a young man coming out to his parents and the relationship as it continued after his announcement. I love a story told from two different peoples¿ perspective so it was interesting to read every situation or incident from both Robert and his mom¿s point of view. At times the writing seemed a little too trite and superficial.
GAGVLibrary on LibraryThing 4 days ago
There's nothing earth-shattering, but the book is good light reading. The unusual format allows for a rare feature in a memoir: two different perspectives on the same events. Robert's lifestyle during the main action is dated and represents only a small slice of 80's and 90's gay experiences, but it's his experience and it makes for a nice, heartfelt shared memoir.
goldnyght on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I had assumed, when I signed up to win this from Librarything, that I was getting a fiction (or at least fictionalized) book about a gay son coming out to his parents and bonding with his mother. When I first started to read the book and saw that it was actually nonfiction in a sort of diary format, I was irked: I don't generally like that kind of book.However, I read further and I'm entirely glad I did. Even if you're usually a fan of plotlines and the story-tellling point of view, this is an incrediably well written book and I doubt you'll be disappointed in it. Furthermore, while the son's sexuality is mentioned as a large part of the book, I feel it was more like a catalyst for his relationship with his mother. In fact, the book is almost more about her.Not the absolute best thing I've ever read, but certainly up there!
jolrmama on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Has there ever been a cooler and more modern mom than Jane Rave? I don't think so. She not only loves and accepts her openly gay son, Robert, but regularly makes the trek halfway across the country to visit him in New York City, gets drunk with him, finds his porn by accident and doesn't bat an eyelash, and even stands up for him to anyone and everyone. "'I love my son unconditionally,'" Jane proudly states to a narrow-minded hairdresser. She then explains to the reader: "I purposely didn't say 'gay son' because 'gay' is one one-thousandth of who Robert is. I love the gay part and I love everything else about him." Jane almost single-handedly makes her son's acclimation to life in NYC tolerable. With painful honesty and unscandalous humor Robert Rave puts his personal life under a microscope, guided by his mother who also learns as she goes. Together they find eachother, and themselves.
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