Coming out is like an additional, but required, stepping point for us LGBTQ people. When I’m talking to other lesbians, sooner or later the question “so do your parents/family/friends know about you being gay?” or something similar will come up. If the answer is “yes”, then the usual follow up question is how it has been received. If they say “no”, one can only assume that the people around them are really religious – or that they’re just not ready.
Last year, I came out to my mom. Or, rather, I was outed by a “mystery” person, who I’m pretty sure was my brother, because I had been Skyping with my soul-wrenching ex-crush candidly in front of him, involving lots of “aku sayang kamu” (I love you) and giggles. Ugh. Can I take back all those feelings? My stomach hurts recalling the memories).
Out of the blue Mom asked me if I liked girls. Shocked, I said, “Well, I…don’t hate them.”
Technically I was right, wasn’t I? I did kind of want to use the opportunity to come out and say, “Yes Mama, I like girls, NO, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH, they’re so kind, pretty and soft, and OMG BOOBIES ARE FREAKING AWESOME!” But I changed my mind when I saw the way she asked me, her voice was shaky and she looked as if she was going to cry. So I didn’t give her a direct answer.
But no matter how much I tried to avoid answering her, she kept forcing me to give a “yes” or “no” answer, so I finally said “yes” under my breath. It was a simple confirmation, followed by an awkward silence between us. I couldn’t stand it. I tried to speak, changed the subject, and then left.
The next day everything went on as normal, so eerily natural it almost felt like nothing had happened. I was confused: was yesterday a dream or did it really happen? My mom talked to me as usual – until we were apart. She called and asked me again if I really liked girls. I said “yes” again, louder and braver, because I thought maybe she didn’t hear me the first time, though I’m sure she did. Then came a storm of Bible verses. She asked me to pray together with her.
“Dear Jesus, please give her a MAN, A MALE, who is faithful to You….” And so on.
Clearly my mom cannot accept the fact that I am gay woman.
Since then, every time we speak she accuses me that I don’t love her, that’s why I “choose” to embrace this lifestyle. She even blamed herself, for not being there when I needed her the most in my childhood. I didn’t want to make her feel that way, so, being a good kid, I tried to convince her that I might fall in love with a male person someday, although it felt like lying to myself.
She keeps asking me if I still like women “that way” every time we’re on the phone. She would convince me that this is just “a phase”, that it’s not real, and that I’ll find the right man if I’m just willing to open up. It feels like I have to come out over and over again every time I try to converse with her. But, how much longer will I have to continue doing this?
Turns out I’m not the only one who has to endure recurrent conversation like this. Many of my gay friends who are already out sometimes have to come out more than once to convince people around them that they don’t swing “that way”, the hetero way. I believe the actual reason behind this is denial. Maybe it’s hard for my mom to accept that I am not like her. I understand that she wants me to be straight because that’s the only concept she’s familiar with. She wants the best for me because she loves me. I know this because she didn’t stop talking to me, and she didn’t hit me or, worst, kick me out from home.
But I cannot do this much longer. I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not.
I used to practice “don’t-ask-don’t-tell”, but I decided to change it after the Orlando shooting. People can’t keep denying that LGBTQ people are real, and that we’re living among them.
A simple denial, like thinking being gay is a choice, is the root of homophobia and it can lead to a violent homophobic action, including hate crimes. Because it’s easy to hate something you don’t know or understand – something that is alien for you. That’s why people have to understand that LGBTQ people are around them, and that there are many of us.
That was why I decided to come out publicly through my social media. Some were shocked when I did; some even said things like, “But I know you! You’re the type of person who likes to try something out of the ordinary.” I loved it when they looked surprised, because I really want to make them understand that I, a girl they’ve known since grade school, am a flaming homosexual. I know I’ll have to explain it again and again, but it’s worth it, even if I have to do it a thousand times! Well, maybe not that many times.
As published on Magdalene, August 1st, 2016