Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming out

Oh, wow. What an intense couple of days it's been.

I came out as a lesbian to my mom last night, and then came out to my dad today.

They both took it really well; I couldn't have asked for a better reaction from them. I'm relieved, grateful, and incredibly happy. I'm also exhausted. This was very emotionally draining; I can't imagine what it would have been like had they not been accepting of it.

I've felt ready to take this step for a while, and promised myself that I'd begin by telling my mom sometime this week. A few people have asked me if I was planning to do it because of National Coming Out Day, and the answer to that is no. I think it's pretty neat that I just happened to be ready to come out to my parents around this time of year. But regardless of what the calendar says, I couldn't have done this had I not felt 100% ready to do so. And it has taken me a long time to feel ready.

I had an opportunity to tell my mom yesterday. My sister was taking a nap and my dad wasn't home. And I figured that waiting wouldn't make it any easier. So I just did it. She was on the back deck reading a book. I interrupted and asked if we could talk. And then I just kind of told her. She looked taken aback and was silent for a few seconds; it was so awkward that I'm pretty sure I started rambling about who knows what. But then she said very calmly, "Okay. Tell me how you figured this out."

I told her everything: where I was at in high school, what happened during my three years in Saginaw. And then I told her where I'm at now, and why I hadn't told her sooner. I finished by giving her the opportunity to ask questions.

One of the things she asked me is whether I support gay marriage. I told her that yes, I do, and she asked me why. I explained that I believe "civil unions" (which she supports) would only segregate heterosexual and homosexual couples. I used the example of segregation in the South, and pointed out that the facilities blacks were permitted to use were not actually equal to those reserved for white people. I told her that the only way to achieve equality is to use the word "marriage": if heterosexuals can marry but homosexuals can only enter into a civil union, the wording would allow lawmakers to limit the rights of homosexual couples.

I don't know whether I changed my mom's mind on the matter, but she told me that my argument made a lot of sense, and didn't argue with me about it. That meant a lot to me. She just surprised me by accepting what I was telling her--all of it.

After we talked, I went to my room and sobbed for a solid ten minutes (which doesn't sound too ridiculous, but believe me, ten minutes is long time to cry that hard). I just couldn't believe I'd finally told her, and that she didn't think any less of me. It really, really means a lot to know that even though there's just so much we don't "get" about each other (she's pro-life, for crying out loud), she's still able to accept me for who I am.

This morning, I woke up feeling drained but happy. My mom and I had breakfast together before I left for school. And while we were eating, she told me that she had talked to Dad, and though she hadn't outed me to him, she had told him to expect me to tell him something very important soon. (Hint, much?)

I was a little annoyed with her for doing that. It took a long time to talk myself into telling my mom I'm gay. And it took a lot out of me; I didn't know how soon I'd be up to talking to my dad, especially since I figured telling him would be more difficult than telling my mom had been.

But today at school, the GLBTA hosted a National Coming Out Day celebration. One of the events was a speech by Dr. John Corvino, and one of the things he said really struck me: I'm paraphrasing here, but basically, he stressed the importance of coming out (if/when it's safe to do so), in order to live by example. People are more supportive of LGBT issues than ever before because they know us, and know that our sexuality doesn't keep us from functioning in society. Not only is coming out healthy, it's imperative. If we aren't honest about it with ourselves and others, we're enforcing the idea that homosexuality is a "dirty little secret." It infuriates me that people who build their lives/politics around love are made to feel ashamed of that. And with the startlingly high number of recent teen LGBT suicides, it's important to be honest and vocal. Doing so could literally save lives.

And so not only is this why I decided to come out to my dad tonight, but also why I decided to post this. I wanted (nay, needed) to write about it, but at first didn't think it wise to do so in a public venue. Wrong-o. Now I realize it'd be wrong not to.

As for coming out to my dad: It was pretty anticlimactic. I told him I'm gay. He asked me how I knew. I told him everything I had already told my mom, then gave him the opportunity to ask questions. He didn't have any. He just told me that he didn't understand it, but still loved me. And that was that.

I know that this is a process. It took me a long time to come to terms with my sexuality, and it'll take my parents a long time too, I'm sure. But I couldn't be more proud of them for how they handled what I told them. I really needed them to accept it, accept me. And they did.


  1. I'm so proud of you Ames. I know it's been a long, hard struggle--realizing it yourself, coming out to various people, and wondering all the while how your family would take it. I'm so proud of you for taking the step you did. My school's been doing a lot in honor of the recent LGBTQ suicides, and we had an open mic/candlelight vigil where many people, including Dean Kaenzig, stepped up and spoke about their coming-out experiences, and it was intensely emotional. So it makes perfect sense to me that you feel as drained as you do. I love you & I'm proud of you, and I hope you'll continue to speak up. <3


  2. I'm very proud of you and of your parents. It made me very happy to read this, and am glad that you were met with acceptance and love. I can't say that I know what it's like, but there's no way it was easy. I've watched you come to these conclusions in bits and pieces, figuring out things and doing things that are good for you. Things that I respect and admire you for. I feel like it's too corny to say congrats, but really, I'm very happy for you.

  3. I feel the same way about coming out and being vocal (though not obnoxious) about it. We make a difference when we allow people to understand us (the gay) and the decisions we make -- that they are genuine and not malicious. I'm so happy for you, and I love that you wrote about it. :) I can't wait to see you.

  4. Hey there, I haven't been following your blog for long so this might sound a bit weird, but I'm really, really proud of you. Congratulations on being so brave and taking the next step in your life - you're amazing.

  5. You go, homeslice. :)

  6. I couldn't have wished for a better reaction from them, Amesworth. you go girl! I remember when u came out to Trace and I in my car. Trace acted homophobic just to egg you on but we both love you and will always accept you for who you are :-)

  7. Thanks for all the positive feedback and support, everyone. I appreciate it so much.