This is Part 2 of how I came out to my parents. Read Part 1 here.
Recap: I came out to my mom last night after she straight up asked me if I was gay. Very much awkwardness followed.
“How long have you felt this way?” was the first question out of her mouth. She exhaled like she’d been holding that breath for the entire 6 months I’ve been home.
“About a year,” I said. I could see her doing the math.
“Did something happen to you in Rogers Park?” she asked. “Something traumatic?”
“Oh, I see. You’re trying to figure out what turned me.”
“Well, yes. Because usually when people are gay, they know from the time they’re young. They don’t suddenly figure it out at 24.”
That stung. I was simultaneously being judged and having my offense invalidated. I figured this would happen, though – that she’d have a hard time with it because I’ve dated men and because I was truly in love with them. Her reminding me of this triggered my queer insecurity, and a large part of me wondered if the gay was, indeed, wearing off. If I was “gay enough” to go through the whole coming out ordeal. If it was worth it.
I told her I didn’t know how I felt about men. That one day maybe I could love them again, but it didn’t seem likely at the moment. That right now, the straight ones piss me off, and if that makes me an angry lesbian stereotype, I’m sorry but it’s how I feel.
There were several long periods of silence. The whole thing was very reminiscent of the time a friend’s mom had outed me as Catholic to my parents and we sat there in the living room judging each other quietly for an hour.
“You were such a nice girl back then,” she lamented, even though at the time there was nothing worse than having a Catholic daughter. (Actually, I’m fairly certain I said something to her like, Mom, it could be worse. At least I’m not gay or something. Ha!)
Still, she wasn’t throwing me out of the car, or onto the streets.
“We kind of knew,” she said. Oooh. I was dying to know. Was it the dykey shoes? The short hair? The way I’d stopped talking about men and used gender neutral ways of talking about future dates? Oh, of course. It was probably that damn Tegan and Sara wallpaper on my phone. The truth was less glamorous.
“You never make that many friends that fast,” she said. “You’re an introvert like me. And now in one month you have all these new friends, and they’re gay.”
Oh yeah, and then there was that. Aside from the ignorant “Your new friend/roommate is gay therefore you must be gay too” mentality, I’m slightly weirded out that someone we know – or several people according to my mom – took the effort to creep on these people’s Facebook profiles to find out their orientations. I have a few ideas about who it was. I thought about writing a Facebook blast this morning about how juvenile it was to creep on profiles of friends of friends and then snitch to other people about their personal details, but decided to take the high road and say what the fuck ever.
In the end it worked out to my benefit: I’m spared the agony of coming up with a way to come out, the sweating palms, the chickening out, etc. The part that comes next is harder. Do I take the initiative to tell the rest of my family – my grandma, my aunt and uncle, my cousins? I feel like they deserve a face-to-face coming out. They deserve to hear it from me and not from her.
When I converted to Catholicism, my mom did the job of telling everyone else, but because I didn’t tell them, it became the elephant in the room that nobody talked about. I don’t want that to happen with this. But I also feel entirely unprepared to sit down with my sweet, elderly, devoutly Christian grandma and tell her I want to date women. How do you do that?
A few other things were addressed:
- We talked about coming out to friends, and my mom actually said, “I would think it would be creepy, having a friend come out to you. Like, what if they had a crush on you?” She fucking went there. I’m proud to say I checked her on that: I asked if she was creeped out every time she met a straight man, because they also might have a crush on her. “I’m not attracted to every girl I see,” I said. “We’re not sex maniacs.”
- She used the words “sad” and “disappointed.” “But we still love you… ” Ugh. Save it.
- I made sure to tell her that I didn’t choose this. No one in their right mind would wish this on themselves. I think it made her think. But then she’s sad and disappointed, so clearly it was my choice.
- “I hope it’s a phase,” she said. And when she said it, I realized that I didn’t want it to be a phase for me anymore. I realized that I fucking love being gay. I tried to explain that but I don’t think she understood. Anyway, it was a significant realization for me.
- She asked some interesting questions like have I ever had a girlfriend (when? I’ve been stuck in your home from 6 months!) and have I told people at work. She doesn’t seem to get how awkward it is to just go around being gay for the first time ever, or to talk about it with new acquaintances.
- At the end, she said, “Well thank you for being honest,” as if I had confessed to a crime.
On the way home, I felt like sobbing tears of relief. Now I can come out to anyone without fear of having the information getting back to my parents! I can date again – and I can stop deleting The L Word from my Netflix history!
When we got home, there was a sweet moment in which she hugged me and my brother came up from the other side and hugged us both, even though he didn’t know yet. It felt like all was right with the world.
And then I asked her, so can I still bring Liam to Chicago with me tomorrow to help me start setting up my apartment? (I’m not very good at being the handy tool-wielding drill-bearing dyke yet, so I was planning on having him help with installations.)
She took one hard look at me and turned away. “No,” she said. “Absolutely not.”
It was like a death sentence. What the hell did it mean?
Two texts later, I learned that there would be conditions on my relationship with my little brother, my best friend. Best case scenario: they don’t want him visiting the city outside their realm of control. Because if he walks into a house with 2 lesbians, our combined magical unicorn powers will turn him gay. (It’s contagious, you know.) Worst case scenario: they limit our communication, censor our correspondence, never allow me to hang out with him without one of them present.
I don’t know what will happen. They are still deciding. As it is, I’ve already told Liam to unfollow me on Instagram (one too many “OMG Sara Quin is so fucking hot” comments, oops) and delete our texts, just in case there’s anything that could be used against me. It feels vaguely reminiscent of a custody battle.
If I’m allowed to go on a walk with him alone tonight, we’ll go to the park and I’ll tell him, just so he hears it from me. I’m on the train on the way home. It won’t be long now.