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For a Mother's Day special in May of 1990, I interviewed Washington, D.C. author Mikey fleming.

His first book, "About Courage" had been recently published and was a local best-seller.

Many gay men have a special relationship with their moms and sometimes it's complicated.

Mickey Fleming, first in his book, then in this interview spoke about his.

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Photos by Doug Hinckle

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‘Could this be my mom?’

After a 25 year separation, author Mickey Fleming
found his mother and loved her back from the edge.

by Sidney Brinkley

Mickley Fleming and his mom, Sarah.Mickey Fleming was taken aback when he saw the woman at the top of the stairs at the run-down boarding house. “The palm of her left hand curls toward her wrist and her mouth is twisted as she had a stroke,” he wrote in his book “About Courage.”

She wore an old dress, which was extremely dirty from the collar to the hemline which touched her soiled sneakers…Could this be my mom?”

Indeed it was his mother, Sarah. They were separated when he was just two years old. She was placed in a mental hospital and he in an orphanage. They had not seen each other in 25 years.

“I was surprised,” she says, reflecting on the moment she first saw the young man in the hallway. “He looked like my son but I wasn’t quite sure. I was glad to see him. I was glad to see that he was thinking about me.”

At that first meeting , they sat on her bed and she told him of her life and of the beginning of his. They had much in common. Both had lived through a series of painful experiences, his from years in foster homes and orphanages and hers from a succession of abusive relationships with brutal men and sometimes incapacitating mental problems.

Now it was Mickey’s turn to care for his mother. He took her out of that place and fed her, bathed her, clothed her, and loved her back from the edge.

Today Sarah’s physical appearance is much improved. Gone are the curled palms and crooked mouth. She and Mickey have been living together seven years. Their apartment is small and homey and they sit close to each other. Mickey’s arm is laying protectively behind her on the back of the couch. She looks content.

On the wall behind them is a picture of Sarah as a young woman. She is perched on a stool wearing a tailored red suit and smiling. The Sarah in the picture is beautiful. The resemblance between Sarah and her image is obvious to see, but so is the toll she paid for the life she lived.

Sarah says she had to relive some painful memories in order to tell Mickey his story.

“I didn’t want to go back to all of that but it was good for him,” she says. Mickey agrees.

"Before meeting my mother I had feeling she abandoned me,” he says. “By discussing our history I began to understand whatever happened to us was beyond her control. I began to understand my mother and the situation I was in. It’s strange,” he says. “I don’t know why but there was still a bond even though I didn’t know her.”

Sarah has three other children besides Mickey, two boys and a girl. “My oldest son, I never hear from him. I haven’t seen him in about 30 years.”

Her daughter is married and lives in Maryland. They see her maybe once or twice a year. “It’s not like it should be or the way you think it should be,” says Mickey.

Sarah’s relationship with her youngest son, William, who also has a history of mental problems, has been a problem. During a visit not long ago, he came after her with a knife.

“I had to call the police,” Mickey says. “He got pretty violent. He’s now in Saint Elizabeth’s. He needed treatment rather than jail.”

Mickey admits caring for a parent can be taxing at times. It affects his life as a gay man.

“Some guys have a problem with my mother living with me,” he says. “That’s the main problem with trying to cultivate a relationship with another guy. But if they can’t deal with it, then I tell them goodbye. But it does bother me.”

Was she surprised when Mickey told her was gay? “Yes!” Sarah says emphatically and laughing.

“She had a lot of misconceptions about gay people and I had to discuss it with her,” he says. Ironically, it was Sarah who thought Mickey would not accept her.

“I thought he wasn’t going to like me because he was born different, think it was my fault,” she says. “I was kind of nervous at first, but I finally got used to it. He started bringing a a lot of company around. And he would take me around to his company.”

Mickey says it helped that the gay people he associated with tend to be more progressive.

“There wasn’t any negativeness there for her to see, and to be truthful mom,” he says, turning to her, “all the people that have helped us have been gay.”

Sarah nods and smiles.

Both are looking forward to Mother’s Day. They are giving a luncheon given the the Black Male Empowerment group. Sarah and a number of other mothers are going to be honored.

Since finding his mom, a void in Mickey has been filled.

“Now there is someone I can give my love and attention to and take some of the attention off myself. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a lover in my life.”

They are optimistic about the future.

“We take it day by day,” Sarah says. “It seems that things are a little better sine we started all this.”

Mickey Fleming and his mom, Sarah.

Mickey agrees, “I see better things happening. As long as she wants to live with me,
Mickey agrees, “I see better things happening. As long as she wants to live with me, we will be together.”