When I was a child, and I was upset, stressed out, or just needed to talk, my mom and I would go to Sonic. We would sit in the car, order a cherry Dr Pepper, and just chat. I think I valued these talks more than she could possibly have known. Even when we fought or disagreed, I almost always came away feeling better. I almost never felt oppressed or judged.
The only exception was one talk we had while I was a student at TWU. I can’t remember exactly when it happened. I don’t remember the day. I don’t even remember the exact details that led up to this point in the conversation, except that we were talking about a gay man she had met in one of her classes who had revealed to her that his father had physically and verbally assaulted him after he came out. I can't remember her exact words, but my mother had something like this to say about it:
"I just can't imagine ever not loving my child, no matter how they chose to live their life. I would never, ever do something like that. But just the same, if any of my children /were/ gay, I hope they would never come out to me. I just don't want to know."
That has stuck with me, ever since.
"I just don't want to know."
Sometimes, it seems to me that this is really the way most people feel in the United States today. Most people would never actually commit a hate crime. The violent and the hateful element in society may be loud, but the silent majority just…doesn't want to be forced to think about it.
Unfortunately, if you are reading this, then you are probably someone that I consider a friend. If that is the case, there are some things that you should know, even if it makes you uncomfortable. For my own sanity, I have chosen to say this here, so that you can quietly and discretely un-friend me if you feel uncomfortable.
I am a lesbian.
If you have been paying any attention lately, you probably already know that. Some of you may have guessed it before I did.
However, after certain recent and not-so-recent events, I've realized that maybe people aren't so good at guessing the obvious, so I'll say it again:
I am a lesbian.
I'm not saying this to cause anyone discomfort. I'm not saying it to get attention. I'm saying it because it's true, and if you are my friend, you should know. I reiterate… If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you have my permission to quietly and respectfully de-friend me. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
For those of you who’ve stuck around this long, I have something to say to the world in general. Call it my manifesto, if you will.
I know now that I have nothing to be ashamed about. I have nothing to hide. It is not my fault that some people may be uncomfortable with who I am. It is not my job to make other people comfortable. It is not my job to protect the fragile emotional balance of any other person. I may choose to take on these jobs from time to time, but only when it is not damaging to my own psychological balance.
As a person who has been through this, however, it is my job to help those who may be going through it now, or who may go through it in the future. I can’t very well do this while I’m still keeping it a secret myself. So now it’s out there for everyone to know, and you know what? I’m fine with it.
Out of respect for my mother’s wishes, I will probably never come out to her, so I have one more thing I would like to say… If my mother ever comes across this, I hope she will be able to read it without feeling attacked. It is not my intention to tell the world that she was a bad mother. Rather, it is my intention to educate current and future parents about the ramifications that these small, ill-thought-out comments can have upon your children. I have no doubt that my mother does not remember making this statement. She has always done her best to protect me, as I’m sure most parents do. Just think a little before saying things to your children. Even when you think they’re grown, your words still have an enormous impact.
Furthermore, it is my intention to put myself out here, so that people who haven’t quite reached the point I have will know that they aren’t the only one who has dealt with something like this, and that it is truly possible to come out the other side a whole, sane, capable human being.
It hurts to know that my mother might never know (or rather, want to know!) such an important thing about me. Ultimately, however, it makes me sad for her. I know that she will always love me. Unfortunately, she will never truly know me, and I can honestly say that I now believe that I am a person well worth knowing.