Our family secret was finally out
By Anthony in Florida
Growing up, I had always heard our family heritage was Italian and Irish.
The lore went something like this: My great, great grandparents (father’s side) came over on a boat from Italy. On my mom’s side, my great, great grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland.
“You are a mix of Irish and Italian. There might be a little British or Welsch in you but probably not much. Both you and your sister are a euro-mix of 50% each,” my dad declared one Thanksgiving many years ago.
Up until recently, I had always assumed the family narrative was true. There wasn’t really a reason to think otherwise, you know?
But all of that changed last year when the truth about my ethnicity was revealed. The results are still reverberating throughout my family.
The catalyst for all of this happening was my ex-boyfriend, Gavin. At the time, we had been dating for a year. One night while we were curled up under a blanket, he showed me the results of his DNA test on a tablet.
“I always knew I was mostly a mix of British, Scottish and Irish. But the Scandinavian through me for a loop,” he said as we examined his genetic communities. “Maybe I’ve got some Viking blood in me?” he joked.
Seeing how fascinated I was with his DNA readout, he gave me a kit for my 25th birthday through Ancestry DNA. I’ll never forget the sense of excitement and apprehension I felt after placing my spit-tube in the mail.
My family has always been supportive of my being gay. When I came out at the age of 17, pretty much everyone was cool about it. “We love you for who you are – not who you sleep with,” I remember my dad saying to me.
That’s why I was a little taken back when I told my dad what Gavin had given me for my birthday. While he didn’t come right out and say it, I could tell he was strangely pissed.
“Why do you need that? You already know your background. Those DNA tests are full of sh*t. Don’t you kids have better things to do?”
Anyway, during the waiting period between the time of sending off the kit and getting the results back, Gavin and I joked about what one of our hypothetical children might look like.
“If he’s a boy, he’ll probably have blue eyes with a huge d*** like me!” he snickered as we fooled around at his place.
FYI: Gavin is very large – certainly bigger than me. But I secretly hoped that if we did ever have a child that the kid’s peen would look nothing like his. That’s because Gavin’s is super lumpy!
In any event, as time went on, the entire ancestry thing slipped to the back of my mind. That tends to happen when you aren’t expecting anything special.
Then the magical day came this past winter. An email popped up in my mailbox with the subject line reading: “Great news! Your Ancestry DNA results are in!”
I can still remember sitting in front of my desktop at work as I took it all in.
The large percentages from Ireland, Italy, Great Britain and Welsch made sense. So did the trace amounts from the Middle East, given the area’s historical influence on Italy.
But the Nigerian numbers (10%) threw me for a massive loop. “Were the results wrong?” I recall thinking to myself. “Maybe they’ve mixed up my sample with somebody else?”
Immediately, I called my mother on the phone. Her delayed response told me everything: “I knew this day would come.”
After bit of back and forth, she said she wanted to talk to me in person. We agreed to meet that evening at my place. “I just don’t want your father there. I’ll explain when we meet.”
Long story short, mom told me that on my dad’s side of the family, my great, great, great grandmother had an affair with a Nigerian carpenter. It was a secret way back then and apparently, one that continues to this day.
After the truth was revealed, I busted out laughing. First, it just seemed ridiculous that anyone would be ashamed of having Nigerian blood in them. Second, when you really think about it, all of us have trace amounts of DNA from other races, thanks to evolution.
“You can think this is funny all you want young man but I suggest you keep it to yourself. And don’t you dare tell your sister. Not everyone is as hip as you are.”
After mom left, I decided to let Gavin and my sister in on the news. On Ancestry DNA, you can unlock your results on their website and then have them automatically emailed to anyone you want.
Fifteen minutes later, Gavin sent me a text.
“Whoa! Are these yours? I thought you were Italian and Irish? Looks like somebody wasn’t being honest with you.”
I immediately called him up to share specifics. His response wasn't exactly affirming. “I don’t think I’ve ever dated anyone black before,” he said with a deadpan voice. “Listen, I’ve got another call, let me buzz you later.”
By this time, my phone was blowing up with messages from my sister. “Oh, my God – it all makes sense. No wonder nobody has any pictures of great grandma or her parents. Dad’s always been tightlipped about his family history,” she said in one text.
The next morning, I messaged Gavin to see about getting together. It was a Friday and we had made previous plans to attend a mutual friend’s party that night.
Normally, he’s quick to respond. But on this day, it took him three hours to get back to me. When he finally did, he claimed he wasn’t feeling well. “I’m going to chill for for a few days and try to shake this,” read his text.
When you’ve been with someone long enough, you can tell when something is up. Call it a sixth sense or paranoia or whatever you want. I knew his behavior was the direct result of my DNA revelation.
Thinking back, Gavin had been hinting at his racist beliefs all along. I was just blind to them. Example: He once muttered the “N” word after bumping into a black man the street. Another time while he was drunk off his ass, he made a disparaging remark about Puerto Ricans.
Then I started to think about his family. While I had only met them a few times, they were clearly racists. One of the first questions his mother asked me was my nationality; something that’s kind of odd to inquire about as an ice breaker.
After the weekend, Gavin and I finally did connect. But his easy going demeanor was gone. Again, he never once said anything about my 10% Nigerian blood.
But he didn’t need to.
When I had finally had enough, I told him straight out that I couldn’t help but notice how he had been acting since sharing the DNA results. Now I’m going to admit here that I pushed it because he wasn’t talking.
Finally, after probably getting on his last nerve, he let out the God-awful truth.
“Fine. You want to do this? Let’s do it. I do have a problem with dating someone black. It’s just not the way I was raised. Are you happy you f**** asshole?”
I wasn’t stunned at his comments but I was pissed. Nothing had changed about me. I was the same guy he had been with all along. The only thing different was information about my bloodline.
In a flash of anger, I lost it.
“Just remember, I've been breeding you with my 10% Nigerian load for a while now. Never forget that b**ch!” I said as I slammed the door and left his apartment.
Fast forward to the here and now.
Gavin and I have long since broken up. Knowing how he felt about people of color (which included some of me), I couldn’t stomach being around him.
Since all of this happened, my sister has taken a DNA test. Her results were similar. We later found out that it’s not uncommon for siblings to have differing ethnicity amounts. Apparently, mother nature randomly assigns this number.
In her case, she has 7% Nigerian blood in her, according to Ancestry DNA with trace regions from Cameroon.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that I’ve had a long, meaningful conversation with my father about all of this. It hasn't happened.
The one time I tried to bring it up, he got pissed off and walked out of the room. This was followed by my mother saying something like, “I told you to leave it alone!”
For my part, I am completely fine with my results. In fact, I’ve recently started to study all my heritage; including the Nigerian aspects. My sister is doing the same. She’s also having her 3-year old son’s DNA analyzed as I write this article.
So there you have it folks. I guess you never really know who is a racist until something like this happens.
I just don’t understand why this is such a big deal for people.
PS: It goes without saying both my mom and dad are equally racists. The way they've behaved disgusts me.