November 30, 2010

No More Loopholes

I feel like everyone has a “coming out” story but me. I really don’t come out. I suppose I think that the topic of sexuality isn’t necessary to announce until it becomes relevant to a specific person. For instance, I didn’t tell my roommate I was bi-sexual until I had a girlfriend who was sleeping in my bed every night, which was 3 feet away from her (i.e. it was relevant to her life to know). At Duke I’ve expressed my sexuality on a need to know basis or if people were bold enough to ask me. People don’t go around nervously publicizing to their friends and loved ones that they’re heterosexual, so what’s the difference? There isn’t one…

Until I realized that my family doesn’t know. Now I have this huge problem on my hands that has been growing at staggering rates for some time. There were some phases of my life where it just wasn’t a concern. I wasn’t dating a girl, so it didn’t matter—once again, it wasn’t relevant. Then I would be talking to another female and I would feel so heavy with guilt because it was this huge secret. This back and forth would play itself out over and over again.

So here’s my current dilemma: I think I really want to come out my parents and I just don’t know how. The other day I was talking to my beloved roomie (hi V!) and she asked me if I would ever tell my mom. My quick response was something like hell no, I enjoy breathing and walking on this earth. My less dramatic response consisted of certain conditions, which are as follows:

1. My mama would have to ask, “Xan. I need to ask you a question and no matter how you answer, I love you anyways and I’m still proud of you. Are you gay?”
2. The girl I was dating would need me to come out in order to feel fulfilled in the relationship.

My mother has asked me before if I was gay/lesbian. Now if you know me, I’m all about the loopholes. My answer is always no. No, I’m not gay. No, I’m not a lesbian. I’m bi-sexual…so I didn’t lie (technically). One time she asked me if I still like guys and I answered yes. See, she never asked the right question. My fear with telling my mom is that she will be disappointed or hurt by this revelation. My mother has sacrificed so much for me that I can’t imagine causing her pain. She tells me almost every single day that I’m her mark on the world and that my successes and failures alike make her proud to have me as her daughter. Pressure much?

As for my dad, I’m really not concerned as much. We’ve always had a really rocky relationship with long stretches of time where I wasn’t speaking to him. I feel at this point in my life if he doesn’t accept me, I can easily walk away without being affected by his disapproval. However, our relationship has improved tremendously and I’m actually feeling pretty confident/comfortable about telling him. In fact, I plan to tell him this Thursday while he’s in town visiting. My GREAT idea goes something like this:

When: Thursday, December 2, 2010
Time: 8am (when he’s about to get back on the road)
Place: Outside of his car

Me: Dad, I’m bi-sexual. I’ll give you two days to think this through, then you may contact me with any questions or comments. I will not be accepting any calls, texts, or emails until two whole days have passed. I love you. Thanks for coming to visit.
*I walk away*

I’ve been told this is a horrible idea but it’s kinda all I got. I really want my dad to be supportive and accepting but selfishly, I really just want someone in my family to finally know. As for my mom, I’ve set an unknown deadline sometime before graduation. I might call her or mail her a letter. My mama and I are really close but I have no clue how she is going to react. That’s what really scares me.

Why the sudden change of heart about telling my parents? The other day I was on the phone with mom and she was telling me about some ex-boo she got rid of and I nearly blurted out, “Well I’m talking to someone new and she’s really great and I think you’d love her,” but I couldn’t. That hurt…so much. There’s a whole part of my life, and great women who are a part of it, and none of my family knows.

Nikki Giovanni is quoted to have said, “She knows who she is because she knows who she isn’t.” Well after years of going back and forth about whether I was truly bi-sexual I’ve decided that I’m bi-sexual as hell. I know who I am. I think I’m ready for the people I love the most to know too (or at least I’m working on being ready).


  1. I'm currently on track to coming out to my entire family because my partner is coming home with me for the holidays (HEY FAMILY GUESS WHAT IM GAY OH BTW HERES MY PARTNER HILARY!!!). I'm freaking out.

    I go through long stretches without talking to my family. In the past, it was because I was so depressed that I would have to time my phone calls around times of my euphoria so they wouldn't detect any sadness. I've realized in the past year that as much as I want to call my family, I have the hardest time because I have soooo much great news to share (I'm in love, I live with my partner, I believe in trust again, I'm kinda gay...) but I know they may not necessarily take it as good news. But I cannot hold it back, so I don't call.

    Either way, they're all gonna know before December 30. I supposed I've got a month to let the gay cat outta the bag.

  2. Telling someone once it become relevant is the position I've taken in my own life. Personally, as I write this, I can see how maybe I'm using this as a cop out to just not tell people. I've never been in a relationship, let alone a relationship with another woman, so it doesn't seem like I need to announce anything to anybody. I mean, if I don't currently have a girlfriend, then that I might potentially someday seems sort of a like nonissue, right? It's a lot of hoopla about something that might never come to be. I hadn't considered, though, the way in which this might hinder my ability to speak freely about someone I like before we're in a relationship or even my ability to come out once in a relationship. I guess it's a lot to spring on someone at once--"not only do I like girls, but I'm dating one!" Your post is helping me to realize that coming out before then might be a good decision. It sounds like that's what you're realizing, too.

    In the end, some people know that I'm currently questioning. But I don't want to share that with everyone. If I'm going to tell someone, I'd rather be able to make some definitive statement.

    Good luck with telling your parents--I really hope that they're happy for you that you found someone you like and that it doesn't matter that she's a girl. Either way, there are a lot of people here at Duke who will celebrate your coming out to your parents and support you no matter how it goes. <3

  3. Hey Xan! So this isn't completely related to your post, but some advice that Janie gave me once, was a sort of script to coming out, that I've used and it's helped me feel comfortable. I'm not so sure this applies to your post specifically, but I thought if anyone else was reading this post and wanted an idea, it might be worth it: "I think this might surprise (or shock) you, but there is something that I want to tell you about myself, and I'm really happy (okay, healthy, accepting, etc.!) with it. I want to tell you because you're an important part of my life, I care about you, and I wouldn't want you to hear this from somebody else. [I want to be the one to tell you.] I'm gay."

    As for you specifically-I really can't speak to this! You know your family so much better than I do. I just hope it goes well, and know that you have a lot of people supporting you here for the positive (or difficult) aftermath.