I’m Erica Nix. I’m from Arlington, Texas.
Arlington, when I was growing up, was a pretty conservative place. It wasn’t really that cool to be different, and I always had a hard time fitting in. My mom was raised Baptist and my dad’s from Louisiana. They’re both pretty conservative, and they both come to Austin to visit me, and this is the time that I decide I’m going to come out to them.
I’m living with my girlfriend. It’s all pretty clear, and so I sit them both down in our house and I’m telling you, bringing it like, “I have something really important I need to talk to you about.” I can tell that they’re getting more stressed the longer I wait, so I finally say it. “I’m queer. Khattie’s my girlfriend and we live together.” And you can tell that there’s actually this huge relief in the room, and apparently it’s because they thought that I was going to say something worse.
So a few months go by and we haven’t really communicated much. We just don’t really talk on the phone that much anyway, and my mom calls and says she’s going to visit and that she had something she needed to talk to me about while she’s on this conference.
So after her conference, I take her to have brunch at my favorite Mexican food restaurant, Curra’s, where I used to hostess, so I know everyone there. And this is when she decides to bring up this information or question or whatever it is, and I start spiraling because I assume it’s about me coming out and things that maybe have come up for them.
So obviously I can’t eat. I’m super stressed. I can’t really focus, and it seems like the tension’s building more and more, so I just take her away from the restaurant because I know everyone there. I’m feeling like I’m going to cry in front of all of my coworkers, so we rush home and she starts crying as I yell at her, “Just tell me, what is it?”
And she cries like I’ve never seen anyone cry, but like a little baby, just like where there’s spit between her lips, like elastic spit, and she says, “I’m afraid you’re going to look like Leslie.”
If you don’t know who Leslie is, he’s an icon, a legend in Austin, an amazing gender-bending cross-dressing man that would show off his thong in the middle of town to anyone who would listen or look. My jaw dropped because I thought it was something important or something about being queer or my health or someone dying, anything.
My initial reaction to my mom was anger, because I had just gone through such an emotional process waiting for her to tell me this terrible news, which was literally not a big deal. It was about me being a big weirdo and how probably I was never going to fit into this box that my parents had always expected and maybe wanted me to be in.
Being my authentic self was really more than being queer. It was about hanging my freak flag as high and wildly as I want, and I feel like it’s important for me to continue doing that, to leave examples for kids like me that grew up in Arlington that didn’t have any weirdos around to look up to, anyone to show them the way they can be however weird and dress like Leslie if they want to.
It was about hanging my freak flag as high and wildly as I want.