IF YOU MISSED THE FIRST PART OF THIS MINI SERIES, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE.
IF YOU MISSED THE SECOND PART OF THIS MINI SERIES, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE.
It’s kind of ironic how parents can predict things before we have any inclination whatsoever.
I know I’m not the only one who has been in a relationship where you make the mistake of telling your parents too much. This trust we have in our parents, to them, seems almost like an invitation for their input and skepticism.
Soon you’re hearing, “Is David* still selling drugs to high schoolers? I really hope you’re done buying that stuff from him.” or “Did Tom* unfollow that girl on Instagram whose pictures he kept liking?” and “From what you told me, it sounds like Kyle* has some serious issues. Run.”
*Names have not been changed to protect the identities of ex-boyfriends
Next, they’re giving you advice about how he’ll probably get a girl pregnant before he can start his life and that the two of you are so toxic you’ll end up ruining each other’s ideas of love forever.
All of a sudden, you’re 23 and you look back and realize, holy shit my mother was right.
Except, when I told my step-dad I was interested in this girl as more than a friend he told my mom he always thought I would end up gay.*
*I do not identify as a specific sexual orientation
I don’t know how parents are able to predict this kind of stuff, but this was news to me. Because up until the very second I kissed this girl, I had no idea how I felt about women.
Telling My Family
Before we jump into the terribly awkward, self-humiliation that is my true coming out story, I want to preface this by saying I am so incredibly thankful to have the friends and family that I do. Daily, they have continued to make this process as easy as I could have hoped it would be, and how I hope it can be for everyone.
The first night Jillian came over to hangout with me, I told my mom a “friend” from school who I had recently re-connected with was on the Cape for Christmas (we hungout for the first time December 22) and neither of us had anything to do so she was coming over to make a gingerbread house with me.
This wasn’t a total lie, we did make a gingerbread house, but she definitely wasn’t a friend from school. In fact, I had no proof she was even a real person at this point so I kind of just invited a stranger to my house based on a few days of text exchanges and a cute picture of her online.
Thankfully she wasn’t a serial killer.
My parents weren’t home when she got to my house because, unlike me, they actually have lives. We set up the gingerbread kit, starting pasting chunks of icing onto a cardboard house and every so often (probably every 10 minutes), I checked the window to see if lights were coming up the drive.
I’m not a very good liar, especially when it comes to myself. I like to be truthful with my parents and get their advice on things but this whole “thing” was so new and so unexplored that I honestly didn’t know what to say. So I lied.
When they finally got home, they asked her the standard questions. Did you go to Roger Williams, too? Where on Cape are you staying? What was you major?
Thankfully, being the paranoid freak I am, we had gone over all of these questions except she didn’t go to Roger and her family wasn’t staying on the Cape and although she said she majored in business, she actually didn’t go to college at all. Now we were both lying.
This would all come out on my moms birthday few days later but until then, we had passed the friendship test and went to the basement to watch a movie.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I had someone over that I was interested in, I would invite them to the basement to watch a movie. My parents definitely caught on to this and there were only so many times during this “Christmas break” that I could invite this girl over my house to watch movies in my basement before it got weird.
And weird it got because one day, my mom was driving home and the words spewed out like vomit.
“Hey mom, yeah Jillian’s here again yeah she’s gay and I might be too and I don’t want you to be weird about it when you get home so just act normal, OK? See you in bit. Bye,” and I hung up.
She later told me that the pure shock of this sentence alone made her almost drive off the road. Not because she wasn’t accepting of me but simply because I had dated guys my entire life and not once did I mention any sort of possible interest in women.
I had decided to hold off a bit longer to tell my step-dad but the morning of my moms birthday (December 29), as Jillian parked her car at the end of my driveway and walked towards the house in stilettos and a black dress, I blurted it out.
“Jillian’s gay,” I said as I stood in the newly remodeled kitchen, leaning over my phone with my elbows perched on the island. I didn’t even glance up.
“OK,” he said back.
“I might be, too.” My face was now buried in my phone, Jillian was almost at the door and my moms coffee just about spewed out of her mouth.
“Ok and?” he said. He kind of chuckled and went back to drinking his coffee.
At this point, Jillian was walking up the front steps, hand in a fist, ready to knock.
“I thought you were going to wait to tell him?” my mom said as the knock echoed through the living room.
For whatever reason, I had invited Jillian to a play with my family and me in Boston. Little did I know, when I texted her and asked her, she paced through the kitchen coming up with all of the reasons why she shouldn’t go before texting me back an hour later saying yes.
Now, we stood side-by-side in the kitchen, the abrupt announcement lingering in the air. Oblivious to what had taken place seconds earlier, Jillian gave my mom a bottle of red wine and wished her a happy birthday. We filed into the car, shipped up to Boston and up until the day I asked her to be my girlfriend a couple of months later (February 22), it wasn’t brought up once.
Not because they didn’t care or because they didn’t approve but because as long as I was happy, it didn’t matter who I was with. So I guess, in a way, they didn’t care that I was seeing a girl. I had fantasized about the scrutiny I would get from family members, concerned glances in my direction as I paraded her around family functions, snide comments as we wafted past.
But it didn’t happen. The conversation didn’t come. The concerns weren’t voiced. The questions weren’t asked. Instead, I was flooded with congratulations as we made our relationship “Facebook official,” comments from relatives excited to meet her, likes from past friends and family members I hadn’t seen in years. All writing the same thing; you look so happy.
I was relieved. Still, it would take me some time to tell my dad.
The first time my dad met Jillian was on New Year’s Eve. We stopped by the house before our first “public” night out together. I introduced her to my dad the same way I introduced her to my mom; an old friend from Roger that was on Cape for the holidays.
Once it was made “official” online, I knew I had to tell my dad. I didn’t want him finding out from someone else, so I made plans to have lunch with him the following day.
We have a really good relationship but we’ve never talked about relationships. Since I lived with my mom, she was always the one that saw my significant other the most and was forced to get to know them. My dad would be introduced eventually and they’d make small talk, always cordial with one another, mostly around holidays or family events.
I was more scared to have the conversation with my dad than I was with my mom. Again, not because I feared judgment but these weren’t exactly the conversations we were used to having. Unlike my mom, my dad doesn’t have much of an opinion on who I date. He is very passive with mine and my sister’s life choices and rather than telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, he lets us figure it out on our own.
Sitting across from him, I could feel the anxiety creeping up into my throat as I forced down my food. With every bite, I hoped I would be able to swallow my unease.
He was picking away at his sandwich when I decided to start the conversation.
“Do you remember that girl you met on New Year’s?” I asked him. I took a sip of my drink and waited for him to look up at me.
“Yeah,” he said in a drawn out voice.
“Well, her and I are kind of dating,” I said. The words trailed off at the end as he finally looked up at me.
He paused for a few seconds as I choked back an awkward laugh.
“Like lesbians?” he asked me. He sat back in his seat a bit more and had a funny look on his face. That look you get as a child when you know you did something wrong, like poop in the litter box, but your parents are laughing too hard to punish you.
That was the look.
“I guess,” I said as I sipped at the empty ice at the bottom of my cup. “But I’m not gay. I just really like her.”
I was waiting for a reaction but nothing came.
He just adjusted his glasses, picked up his phone and leaned back into the booth. He mumbled something about it being a phase and how most women go through them. I didn’t want to correct him or argue with him so I let it go.
It wasn’t brought up again. I asked a few times if he wanted to talk about it but he always said there was nothing to say. I was happy, so he was happy. Simple.
I would wonder about the simplicity of coming out for months. How could it be so simple, so passive, for me to announce I liked women, but so brutalized and condemned for so many others?
I had hyped up the idea of being gay. I had given it it’s own place in my head where it could live and wonder. It’s own secret garden. I planted flowers in my mind and watered them with my thoughts. Fuel to flourish and a place to feel safe. Confidence to speak and courage to accept. To accept myself. They would sprout from my ears, petals falling from my eye lids and like a mid-summer rain, I’d open my mouth to catch them on my tongue. I’d swallow them whole until I was almost bursting. Full. Whole. Ready to show the world what I had so preciously built. And in the center of it all;