Family Legends (raised by wolves, the seventh child, and the gay gene)

Family Legends

Location collected: Informant’s bedroom


Informant (I): Like I think one of Grandpa’s aunts was a nun actually, at the hospital…which is…why…I think Noni’s side of the family…yeah, but anyways he did used to tell us that he was raised by wolves until the nuns took care of him. But somehow he still grew up in Chicago with, with our grandparents, I don’t know…And then Uncle Dennis, he said used to be given by…raised by wolves too and that they found both Uncle Dennis and my mom in the forest…our mom in the forest. And then…what was the other one? Oh, that there used to be a seventh child and you didn’t know what happened to him, and that was always like the punishment, was you…the alligator belt or do you want to be the seventh kid! *laughing* And then Grandma was the wicked witch of the west…And Aunt Cici was the wicked blimp of the East…This tree just doesn’t look the same as it did before (Referencing the craft project)…The Uncle Raymond gene is by far the biggest joke in our family

C: Ok, let’s hear it.

I: Ok, so, I…it’s so funny telling you these things because I know that you already know them. Ok, Uncle Raymond gene. Uncle Raymond was gay. It was a touchy subject for a while, not so much anymore, but anyways. *Laughing* So uncle Raymond was gay, and he was a minister because they wouldn’t let him be a catholic priest…um, and yeah, that was the big joke, is who was going to get the Uncle Raymond gene. For a while it was like oh, Uncle Dennis is going to get it, for a while we were saying Robert or John (informant’s brothers) were going to get it. We don’t know. But the Uncle Raymond gene is out there…and that that’s what it means…if you’re gay you have the Uncle Raymond gene.

C: And it always skips a generation

I: Yeah…that was…I…yeah, is that what we said? No?

C: When no one in the first generation had it, it’s what we said

I: Yeah, well, so we think

C: But hey, Uncle Dennis got divorced so you never know

I: *laughing* no. He likes, he like the Asian girls…that’s really like his type it’s so obvious I just love it…Yeah maybe Uncle Tom has it. Maybe it skipped over ungenetically *laughs*…I’m just kidding. Don’t let Uncle Tom know I ever said that.

Meaning/belief/why perform:

The informant finds the Uncle Raymond Gene story funny. Uncle Raymond did actually exist and was gay and if someone else ends up being gay then she said would definitely blame the Uncle Raymond gene. She knows that homosexuality does not have any known heritable gene associated with it and she does not actually believe that if someone in the family is gay then it will run in the family, but she will still accredit the “Uncle Raymond gene” For the other jokes it is the family joking around with little kids.  The way that her grandfather was raised is his way of saying he is a saint raised by wolves and nuns and he is the head honcho. The other stories such as the seventh kid are ways to make children behave and to scare them. If they misbehave it is because they were raised by wolves, not the parents. It’s not the parents fault. She does not believe that any family members were raised by wolves but gladly propagates the stories


The family stories are good ways for the family to connect and joke around with each other. I agree with the informant about the function of the stories regarding the seventh child and the being raised by wolves. The seventh child is a scare tactic and the being raised by wolves is a variant on saying someone was raised in a barn. The Uncle Raymond gene joke most likely started as a coping mechanism as the informant admits that there was some tension regarding his homosexuality originally. However, I believe that the joke no longer reflects such tension as the informant herself has no homophobia yet still participates in the joke and she say family member all claim they would have no issues if a family member ended up being homosexual. It is interesting to note that the family always guesses a male will get the gene which shows an idea that the Uncle Raymond gene is a male gene. Also, the knowledge that homosexuality is not actually passed on by those mean (or at least as it is currently understood) is seen by the joke that maybe a male on the other side of the family who is not genetically related to Uncle Raymond received the gene. The more religious overtone of that side of the family is reflected in the informant’s comment that Uncle Tom not be told of the comment.

Annotation: Many of the family legends above can be found in authored literature. One would be the story of being raised by wolves. This can be seen clearly in The Jungle Book.

Kipling, Rudyard, and Jerry Pinkney. The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories. New York: William Morrow, 1995. Print.