Today is national coming out day! Since I can't really
think of one person who doesn't already know I'm gay, I have
decided to share my favorite coming out story with you all.
This is the true story of when I came out to my mom.
On Christmas Eve, 1988, I was home
from college for winter break. Like every other Christmas
Eve, I was gathering inspiration and ideas to begin my
holiday shopping. Yes, begin. My mom turned to
me and asked, "How are things going at school?"
Though innocent enough, this was the kind of question that
only seemed subtle. I could sense something
was up, I just didn't know what. I replied, "Great,
why?" Quickly, the subtle was no longer so, when she
said, "Your father has been worried about you. He
tells me you seem more and more distant when you two talk."
I felt my stomach flip, then sink.
I think I know where this is headed.
Testing the waters, I responded
with, "Well what if I am just choosing to share less,
because I don't feel like dad will approve of what I am
doing, or what I have to say, even if there's nothing wrong
with it?" Unrelenting, my mom asks, "Like what?"
Suddenly I feel as though I am
driving full-speed ahead toward an innocent animal trying to
cross the road. Gripping the steering wheel, eyes
closed, I pray that no one gets hurt, including me. I
swerve, asking, "What if I am dating a man who is not
Caucasian?" Knowing that she would not have an issue
if this were true, but my dad might, I give her yet another
out, another path to safety for both of us. I explain,
"I don't think dad would approve, but there's nothing wrong
with it, so why would I want to share that with him?"
Is the road clear?
You know that feeling, like you've done your best to avoid
the vulnerable animal, with the lingering guilt of not
knowing. Persisting, my mom says, "Are you
dating someone of a different ethnicity?" Afraid to
look in my rear view mirror, I move forward, feeling as
though I may just vomit. I muster up the courage to blurt
out, "What if I am not dating men at all?" There.
I said it. Sort of. Please let her know what I
am saying because I can't say those three words, I can not
say, I am gay.
The dance is over. My mom has
managed to position herself perfectly to ask me the question
she really wanted to ask when she started this
conversation. Without the
slightest change in her demeanor, she simply asks me, "Are
you gay?" And I begin to cry. Still
unchanged, her silence is kind and patient, inviting my
response. Eventually I managed to say, "Yes, and I'm sorry.
I am so sorry. I never wanted you to know, and I am so
sorry to disappoint you."
Etched in my mind, nineteen years
later is her most amazing response, and I quote:
"Michele, you have nothing to apologize for.
You have done nothing wrong." I have my mom
to thank for helping me unwrap the gift of freedom that
Christmas. A gift I'll never exchange.
Happy Birthday, Mom. (October