Not wanting to disappoint my parents, I tried dating boys. When I was eighteen I dated Jack, otherwise known as my last grasp at heterosexuality. He was good looking and I liked hanging out and drinking with him. One night my dad drove Jack home. On the way back my dad asked me, “What are you doing going out with him? I know you don’t think of him as special.” Here it was. My dad was trying to talk to me about dating guys. He knew I had no business dating them and was trying to get me to open up about it. So I did what any scared and naïve teenager would do. I panicked. I missed a golden opportunity offered up by my father. I lied and said that Jack was special to me. Dad dropped the topic.
Two years later things had changed. I was living with my first girlfriend and my brother was dating a new man. One afternoon my brother called me. “I told mom.” I didn’t even have to ask what he told her. I knew.
“I thought we were never going to tell them?”
“I changed my mind. You better call her and talk to her.”
“What do you mean? You just told her about you, right?” Silence. My brother snitched on me in true big brother fashion.
“Just call her and talk to her about it. She knows already.” When I hung up the phone I was ready to wet myself.
I already had plans to go over my parents’ for dinner. Now I wanted to be anywhere but. It was too late to cancel, and I knew my mom would know why. So I went.
My mom was very quiet at first. I think she was hoping I wouldn’t say anything about it. But I did and she told me she was confused. She pointed out the fact that I had always dated guys and I explained that I was trying to fit into what the world thinks is normal. She remained quiet the rest of the evening but when it came time for me to leave, she hugged me and said she loves me no matter what. Dad said he already knew and celebrated the fact that my brother and I finally did it. We came out.
Since then, our parents and our sister have been great supporters and our fiercest defenders, and if they love and support us anyway, it didn’t matter to me if the rest of the world thought differently.
I will never take my family for granted. I know so many others face a different reality with the people in their lives. I think that’s why those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community consider one another ‘family’. If we can’t find the love and acceptance in our given family, we can be that for each other.