Like most gays and lesbians, I knew from an early age that I liked boys. I remember playing house with my siblings and our friends and I would volunteer to be a wife (as we always had more boys than girls) and have a husband. Usually it was one of my brother’s best friends and the boy I had my first crush on.
As we got older though and the ideas of right and wrong, good and evil entered into the mix I started to deny being gay. Both of my parents were involved in the ministry and my mother could always be heard saying anti-gay remarks and comments. My mom was one of my closest confidants as she was always with me when I had to be in the hospital, which was a lot up until I was 16 or 17, though as much as she was a confidant she was my warden. People and TV programs or channels were banned from being played in our house because she thought they pandered or catered to deviant/unholy lifestyles. My mom made my home a prison.
This home life made me start to think that god hated me. I thought and believed from my mother and church that being gay was a perversion of evil. Being evil meant I could not be good and thus would not go to heaven. I hated myself in high school. I was always depressed and sad. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone when I was younger so I started portraying a happy and optimistic persona to get me through the day at school, work or home.
It wasn’t until I moved away to university that I realized there were other opinions and other choices of belief. I loved my university life, but my family was still too close to me. My older brother went to the same university and in my second year my sister did as well. I thought I had to come out and I tried in my third year at university over the winter holidays to my mom and my sister. That ended terribly and made me regret what I had done. I was told my dad would have a heart attack if he found out, I was destined to go to hell and never see my family when I died and that everyone would be so devastated when they found out.
I couldn’t hide who I was anymore and believed my family wouldn’t accept me, so when I returned to university I ran. I moved to a city my family would never have a reason to visit unless they were coming to see me. I hid. For 5 years I had very limited conversation with my family. For 5 years my mother and my sister had time to accept that I was gay and reach out to me, they didn’t. They convinced themselves that I was mistaken and was actually straight. The few times I did see them I know I perpetuated this straight life.
I believed this would be my life until I met my fiancé.
He and his open and accepting family made me want that. It made me want to have that with my own family. Within that first year of my relationship I had to attend my sister’s wedding. I had physically and mentally changed. I was more outgoing, more open and more resilient to my mother’s comments than I was before. Soon after I returned home to my fiancé–my boyfriend at the time–I received the call.
The call was where my parents in a roundabout way asked if I was gay. I said yes. The phone was dead for what seemed like forever. At the age of 27 I came out to my parents. For one year my mother would not have a conversation with me. My dad made an effort to call me once a week. This was the beginning of a relationship I never really felt I had growing up. My father who was not one of my confidants now is and my mom who had been there for me for years no longer is. I’m okay with that though as that is her choice. Not mine.
It’s a strange twist on my reality, but one that I am happy with. My siblings are coming around after almost 6 years now and me being gay is no longer a family topic. Well, not one they discuss with me because they know in no uncertain terms this is who I am. It took me years to come out. But coming out to my family was the hardest and the best thing. I know being gay we make our own “family” but if your family can be a part of that inclusive family you feel a joy you can’t properly express. I hope one day my family will be.
I’m From Tehachapi, CA. “…my father, a manly man raised in a small Texas town to be anti-emotional and anti-affectionate, patted my hand gently and told me that he loved me because I’m his son, not because of who I want to love. This gesture meant more to me than almost anything else. I can count on one hand the number of times that man has even hugged me, let alone told me how much he loved me.”
I’m From Phoenix, AZ. “The idea of coming out to my family terrified me because my parents influenced a bleak and shameful outlook upon homosexuality. My mom always cringed at the sight of gays showing affection and my father had been arrested before for hitting a guy who simply made a pass at him. Not to mention that my father was also an abusive spun-out drug addict known best for his irrational mood swings.”
I’m From Humble, TX. “I had my first boyfriend when I was 16 years old and my mother would hint around that she wanted me to come out to her. She would say that she loves me no matter what, and that I could always talk to her if I needed to get anything off my chest. She eventually sat me down to force the truth out of me, and that was when I decided to verbally announce my sexuality to her. As it turns out, the reality of my sexuality was much harder for my mother to handle than she thought, and her support was suddenly non-existent.”