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Oddly enough, I have two coming out stories. Stories of when I looked my parents in the eyes and hoped beyond all hope that they accepted what was about to come out of my mouth. The moment I got up enough guts to tell the people closest to me, who I've lived with my entire life, who I really am. Such a simple thing, such a small part of what makes me but a heart-pounding, nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching three words that change everything but nothing at all. An experience that I know I share with many, a fear with thoughts I know many others have had running through them. I am bi.
My first story is the one I like to tell. The one that I spill to everyone when they ask for my story. In 2014, I had known for about a year that there was something different about the way I looked at girls. It was the same way my friends looked at their boyfriends and girlfriends and crushes. Like they were the light that lights up the bleak sky or the cool rain that caresses your skin as the Earth comes alive again. But I looked at men the same way, with the same youthful fascination and ideals of young budding romance. And then I got a girlfriend and I knew things couldn't stay the same. There was a secret part of me that wasn't meant to be kept secret. Love was love, love was taught to be accepted and beautiful and the right thing. It was plastered over social media, books, movies, and TV. So that night I sat on the couch, mindlessly looking TV with my sister as I amped myself up for what had to come next; I had to tell my mother.
This was never hard. I never kept secrets from my mother. Like confession in a church, my mother was the one who held all my secrets and showed me the path to forgiveness. My mother's arms have always been my sanctuary for when the storm gets a little too hard to handle. It didn't take much, really, before I was ready to tell her. I was at my mother's door in seconds and after a few quick knocks and a quick breath, I poked my head into her room. "Hey mom, I'm bi...I have a girlfriend." She never looked up from her phone as she replied. "That's great, honey, is it Cindy?" I was kinda baffled for a few reasons. One, the automatic, complete acceptance as if she never had a doubt. Two, the nonchalantness of the situation like we were talking about the weather. And third, Cindy. Cindy was my best friend for three years and she was the furthest thing from gay. Or so we thought—Cindy came out a few years later.
My mother never looked at me differently. She never treated me differently. She educated people on my sexuality and acceptance so I didn't have to. There was only once that she questioned herself, the first time she saw me and my girlfriend kiss. We were in the living room being all couply and she walked in just as we kissed. There was a pause where she had to readjust, where it was in her face and it wasn't just talked about anymore. Then she moved on. Accepted it. Never questioned or felt weird about it again.
I'll forever love my mother for that. The second story isn't...the best. I can't remember most of it truth be told. I was with my father and decided to wait until a day when my sister wouldn't be there to witness the fallout. We ate dinner together in silence that night as I worked up the courage to tell him. Eventually, I just blurted something out, peeking up at him.
"What would you do if one of your kids were gay?"
He paused for a minute. "Nothing because it's not happening. Why?"
Why? What a question. Proceed with caution or go out guns blazing. It turned out so good the other time. Why was I doing this again? What was my reasoning? Because my girlfriend was coming over to spend the night so I thought I had to say something.
"I'm gay. I'm bi. I like guys and girls and my 'friend' coming over is my girlfriend." I had made a mistake. I knew it the second those words passed through my lips. He paused and slowly put his fork down as the vein over his temple bulged out so much I thought it was going to pop. At that moment, every story I'd ever heard about parents kicking out their kids who just came out, of them killing their own children. All of those came rushing to my mind. I looked back at my plate and everything went black.
I'm sure there's more. I'm sure there were ground rules set and a lot of yelling. I'm sure something happened. But it's nothing I can remember. I repressed whatever it was what happened next. I didn't die. I didn't wake up with mysterious bruises or cuts or broken bones. I seemed okay. I knew I wasn't. He was around less and less after that until later that year I moved out. I moved in with my mom full time. To an environment that was warm and loving and safe. And in the end, that's all that matters.