I don’t really consider myself a risk-taker. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a very protective Italian mother, so getting to play hide n’ seek across the street, counted as my summer vacation. One of the riskiest things in my life, as well as the lives of many LGBT people, was coming out to my mom. Like many, I was in college when I was first able to acknowledge that I was gay. I told my best friend about six months later (like a true woman I knew not start talking until after the second trimester). Her response was supportive and I only remember her saying, “I was wondering when you were going tell me.” She then asked me when I had planned on telling my family and my immediate response was “never.” Well, that changed, and a couple months later I had decided to take the risk and come out to my mom.
It was my sophomore year in college and I was home for Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, I wasn’t tactless enough to just blurt out, “Hey Mom, can you pass the yams? I’m gay.” She wouldn’t even know how to deal with that because she calls them sweet potatoes. I had put a lot of thought into how to go about this and I decided that I should tell my Mom alone, the day before Thanksgiving. For full disclosure, one of my abandoned strategies was simply to try to slip in a hint during the Thanksgiving blessing when the whole family goes around says what they are thankful for. It would have went something like this-
Aunt Rosa: This year I’m most thankful for my new hip, it hardly makes any noise.”
Uncle Bob: This year, I’m just happy Grandma could be with us to enjoy another Thanksgiving.”
Me: This year, I’m most thankful for the Marky Mark workout tape because I’ve burned a ton a calories and I haven’t even had to do a sit up. Uncle Bob, feel my grip.”
Obviously, my decision to tell my Mom alone was the best choice. So I sat her down and said, “Mom, I’ve got something to tell you. It doesn’t change who I am, I’ve always been this way and I need to share it with you. I’m gay.”
There was about 10 very long seconds of silence then my Mom cried and looked at me and said, “I’d rather you’d told me you gotten a girl pregnant and were dropping out of school.” My only response was, “But I really like school.” Not to mention, if I dropped out, I wouldn’t be able to meet any boys.
Then she said, “How do you know, maybe you’re bisexual? Maybe you like sex with men and women?” This confused me, it seemed like my mom would rather me be slutty than gay.
Lastly, came her religious argument. My Mom said, “It says the bible that man shall not lay with man as he lays with women.” To which I responded, “Well, I don’t even lay with women. And I would never lay with one the same way I lay with a man, so I’m clearly not in violation of that.”
In spite of all of this, coming out to my Mom was definitely a risk that was worth the reward. Now after several years, numerous Paxil prescriptions, and many PFLAG meetings later, I’m happy to say that my Mom fully accepts and understands my sexuality, life, and partner. Now, if I could just get her to understand the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.