My mothers eyes, rimmed with tears, looked up at me, in the grassy verge beside the road. “Is it true? What Hannah said? Are you -”
I cut her off with a prepared statement. “Yes, Ma. I’m gayer than a Victorian lady on a picnic.”
She didn’t laugh.
Cue Diana Ross, Gentle Reader.
I’d come out at school about six months after my dear personal friend Mr. C. W. L. Darling. I’d been very careful up to that point – I wore only beige, and whenever anyone asked me if I was gay (at least twice a week) I had carefully answered “no.” But the time had come: One brave grey morning, exactly like any other in the fog around the buses, I told my best friends my biggest secret: “Emily, Christopher, I’m gay.”
Of course, the whole school knew by noon.
This was a shame, because I’d hand-written coming-out letters to most of the class of 2003.
Well, time passed, and I hadn’t said a word to my folks. I carried extra clothes in my backpack so that I could queer it up on the bus, after I’d left the house. At one point, I had visiting cards made up.
And then, over the next few months, I grew complacent. I was terrified of telling my family, but I was completely out at school. Things grew comfortable.
Somehow, word had gotten to my mother’s friend’s 12-year-old daughter. We were visiting for some reason or another, and she came running in – she scooped up a seat at the table, listened intently to the talk, and when a break in conversation presented itself, said something that changed my life forever.
“Tyler, are you gay?”
I didn’t answer properly. I blushed, stammered, said “NO!” loudly, and then it was time to go. All sixteen years of me were shaken.
And now we’re back at the start of this post, Gentle Reader!
I begged my mother not to tell anyone. I was certain that my father would kick me out of the house – though a gentle, kind man, he had a darkness within him. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone at all.
But my MOTHER was!
Every second-cousin thrice-removed was soon getting a friendly phone call. Though I’d begged her to keep it to herself, Maman decided that she didn’t want anyone who couldn’t handle homosexuality in her life. I was mortified; all agency had been removed from my hands – a moment had been robbed from me.
Plus, my father vanished when he heard the news. He packed a suitcase and left.
That was that; there was no going back.
At school? Things were mostly okay. I’d get called faggot, occasionally, but I never got into a physical fight.
My grandparents pretended that nothing had happened.
My mother joined PFLAG, and, frankly, made my coming-out all about her.
My dad came back home after a week or so, and we never spoke of that again.
All in all? Things turned out for the best. Even so, I feel as if I was robbed of something, all those years ago.
Happy Pride, Gentle Reader!