So painless... It hardly felt like coming out...

MacAvity's picture

I had always figured coming out to my parents would be an emotional and tear-filled time, that I would plan for it for days or weeks beforehand, that it wouldn't happen until I had a relatively solid label for my queeritude, or else that one of them would just ask bluntly and outright, giving me no time to prepare, and the emotional and tear-filled scene would follow. I had also figured that something would be fundamentally a little bit different afterward - maybe just a load off my chest, maybe some sort of change in the family atmosphere. But this... Not what I expected at all.

Now, all that I predicted may still happen with my father. Probably. But maybe not. After all, today totally defied my expectations. I'll stop ranting about predictions and expectations now and tell the story in as close as I can approximate to chronological order. I do have trouble with that sometimes. And with sidetracks, too. Like this one about all the problems I have writing concisely and cohesively.

Today, for reasons that exist but are not important, my mother and I were walking to the other side of town. As usual, she was doing all the talking. When she talks, to me at least, she has three or four subjects that vary only slightly. One is politics, which is always pretty interesting but definitely qualifies as 'sidetrack.' One is her latest idea, which might count as two because I was counting 'the house' as part of it, but most of what she says regarding the house is all about her latest idea for what to do to it. Also a sidetrack. The third (or fourth if the house is different from the latest idea) is me. I don't know what there is about me that can be talked about for such long periods of time, but there you have it. Usually my problems, I guess, even though I don't always see them as problems. And don't get me wrong, she doesn't talk about my problems like 'Oh, why does there always have to be something wrong with my daughter?' it's more like the concerned parent approach - let's identify your problems and see what we can do about them. I rarely cooperate, because I usually don't see them as problems that need solving. But I digress again.

Today as we were walking, she somehow got on to the subject of Grey (the rare and radiant maiden who broke my heart but who conveniently has a common enough first name that I can avoid giving her a codename - edited). I think the progression of ideas went something like this: We are walking -> We should walk more often, because exercise makes people feel good -> Remember when you did karate and how good that was for you, mentally, emotionally, et cetera as well as physically? ->Yeah, but that was a long time ago, Mom -> Has anything fundamentally changed since then? -> It might have... -> Are you grieving? -> I don't know, why would I be grieving? -> The whole Grey thing...

Thus was the subject broached, and as we walked it continued. The conversation went on for at least two miles, so I neither remember it all nor care to recount it all. Sed summa sequar fastigia rerum.

'So what exactly did you want to happen with Grey?'
'Unspecified.' (This is the nerdly way in which I speak, especially when on my conversational guard.)
'Okay... What were some things you thought?'
'I don't remember. None of them seemed to fit.'
'You must have thought of some... Could have been anything from wanting to have a conversation with her, to wanting her as sort of a mentor figure, to wanting to be her best friend, to being in love with her...'
'Okay. I suppose all of those must have crossed my mind at some point...'

'So let's just say: You were in love with Grey. How do you...react to that?'
'I would say that, aside from the implications...implied...therewith...which I don't really understand...that statement would be fairly accurate.'
'Okay...those implications would be homosexuality... Do you think you were physically attracted to her?'
'Unidentified. Like I've said, I have trouble differentiating one form of attraction from another.'
'Yeah, okay... Physical's usually something you recognise when you feel it...your heart rate goes up... Then again I guess social awkwardness has the same symptoms...'

'So you're definitely not very feminine, not very strongly female, but you're not masculine, either. I mean, you dress like a boy, but you're not masculine. I think that's called androgyny... I know some other people who are like that. Some of them, like [her doctor friend] have both masculine and feminine characteristics; some, like [her professor friend's wife] don't really have too much of either. She's pretty androgynous, I think. Does that label...does that work at all for you?' (The words of this quote are not even remotely like the words my mom actually used, but her speech was kind of long and I don't remember it very well anyways.)
'It fits at least as well as any of the other labels of which I have heard.'
'Well, you're definitely not male.' (This is true, but also a joke. Acknowledging rather than humorous laughter follows.)

'So it's not like you're saying, "Mom, I'm gay."'
'No, but I'm not saying I'm not, either.'
'No, I understand that. You just don't know. ...You do know, right, that if you were gay, your family...there'd be no familial hangups. We'd all be totally fine with it.'
'Yeah, I know that.'

'You seem like maybe you have sort of a repressed sexuality.'
'How's that?' (I think it's closer to nonexistent than repressed, but I don't say so.)
'Well, like, you don't ever talk about finding people attractive, you probably get really uncomfortable whenever people around you are talking about anything sexuality-related...'
'True enough.'
'Leigh seems kind of the same way, is that true?' (Leigh is my male best friend. I haven't used his name here before (edit - now he has a codename), but there's no reason not to, it's certainly common enough.)
'Yeah, maybe...kind of...'
'Is he gay?' (I used to think he might be, he was so completely disinterested in girls.)
'Does he have love interests?'
'That's not my story to tell.'
'You weren't involved?'
'He might be in love with you, you know.'
'I don't think so.'
'He might have had a crush on Nicole.'
'I find it amazing that anyone could not.'
'Why? She's not...the kind of girl... that everyone thinks is just beautiful.'
'Physically, no. But there's something about her... I find it impossible that everyone could not just see it, and love her for it.'
'Well, you know, there are those angel people.'
'She is one of them.'

And that was the last we spoke on that matter. Grey is one of 'those angel people.' That settles the matter - it doesn't matter whether I'm gay or what. She's one of those angel people, and I'm in love with her. It doesn't matter why. And throughout that whole conversation, all two or three miles of it, I didn't feel much emotion at all. Not fear, not grief, not whatever that one is that makes me tear up during almost every deep and serious discussion with one of my parents. It was weird.

And afterward was weird too. Nothing was different in the way I felt, or in the way she acted. We didn't come home and tell my father '[MacAvity]' (sorry, I don't know why I'm not ready to use my own first name when I use everybody else's; it's not even that uncommon of a name) 'has something to tell you...' or anything at all, for that matter. There wasn't even any unspoken pressure or tension of any kind. Nothing was different than it would have been if I hadn't just admitted to my mother that whatever I may be, I'm definitely not what a parent expects her baby daughter to become in seventeen years. And the absolute lack of weirdness of it all...was and is intensely weird.


electricity's picture

Congratulations on coming

Congratulations on coming out! It is a very relieving process and I'm glad you could do it without weeks of agonizing.

Grace Hughen's picture


Good for you for coming out! It's great that you and your mom can have conversations like that, and it was brave of you to be honest with her.