October 12, 2012

Sooner or Later

Coming Out Day got me thinking about my coming out. It wasn't a pretty story at all and is actually really depressing. I hate telling it. Along with thinking about the circumstances around it, I also thought about why I didn't do it sooner.

I've known I was gay since 6th grade even though I didn't know what to call it then. All I knew was that I had a crush on some of the boys in my class and that made me different. By my high school years, I knew what gay meant. I knew that I was it. I knew what my church and family thought of "those sick people." After trying to will myself to like girls for years, I knew that I wasn't changing either. So, why didn't I save myself the dramatics and just come out officially in high school?

Well, as is the case with many of my anecdotes, my mom was a heavy, unknowing influence in that decision.

Sure, I was terrified of how my mom would take it but I was also really concerned about how it would affect her. What would people think of her for having a gay son? I've heard what people say about single mothers raising a male child. Next to none of it is positive. Having that son turn out to be gay is one of the most common criticisms I heard. I didn't want to put her through that. I didn't want her to have to deal with the I-told-you-so's or the That-boy-needed-a-real-man-in-his-life comments. It would kill me every time I heard someone say that I was going to grow up to be some misguided, freak because I didn't have a proper male figure. How was I supposed to be a real man without a real-life male role model?

I saw how much words like that hurt my mom who tried (and still tries) her hardest to give me anything I could want. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to let her down and prove the naysayers right. To this day, it's one of the things that hurts me most about being gay. I feel like the poster boy for all the people who say that a single mom can't raise a male child. No matter that I excelled, went to college and graduated, and now have a stable job. I'm gay and that's proof enough for some people that my mom failed. The worst part is that their evil eyes and mean words fall on her and not me as though it's her fault.

So I knew that I wanted to avoid making my mom deal with that for as long as possible. It'd be easier on me and on her. If I came out after I left home, it would be an adult me that the naysayers are faced with and not a little boy protected by his mommy. I felt I could stand up for myself and take the full brunt of the blow. I knew that I didn't want my mom to feel any of the fault for me being who I am. I wanted to stand up in front of all those people who spoke nothing but negatives about our life and show them that I am strong and proud and the person I am today because of the amazing upbringing I had. 

So why didn't I come out earlier? Because, I don't care what others think about me as long as my mother is respected for the amazing mom she is.

1 comment:

  1. So, I'm a little late getting to this...but I did want to comment that everything you wrote really resonated with me. I wasn't raised by a single-mother, but stereotypes (about being a feminist, being a fan of/working in women's sports, and being a female athlete myself) definitely kept me from talking about my sexuality. Like how you coming from a single-mother household is not the reason you're gay, my hobbies and interests have no bearing on my sexuality. And like you, I was uncomfortable with the fact that by coming out I'd be perpetuating a stereotype which is harmful (as long as being LGBTQ is understood to be a negative thing).