Wow. Okay. Short breakdown of my family history. My mom and dad met in gradeschool. My mom was accelerated by two years and so she met my dad at 12 when he was 14. They got married. Not the best idea. My dad was a catholic raised atheist who became a cop. My mom was an english teacher. They divorced. No surprise there. My mom married my step dad who is a conservative minister. There’s other stuff going on, and I can’t talk about that because it’s all private stuff, but yeah. It should give you an idea.
My Dad and i didn’t talk after the divorce much, because I hated his guts for how he treated us and I was angry. He’ll tell you I was legit in that. And I was to a degree, but not fully. I knew that. So as I got to see more of my mom, I decided to give him a second chance. I’m glad I did.
I never really “came out” to my family. The way it sort of happened was, I went to college, and my mom and step dad alienated me by their conservative politics and such, to the point where my mom was convinced I was an alcoholic because I drank whenever I was around her. I had no idea how to deal with her. I had no idea how to talk to people who had “Prop 8″ signs in their fucking yard (that’s some evil shit, btw. Look it up if you’re not from California). But I did me…far away from them. And I ignored them largely.
My mom and step dad eventually decided to foster my step dad’s adopted daughter’s son (it’s complicated). He and I got along really well. He is gay. When the prop 8 stuff happened, he became sure my parents were going to send him to a reeducation camp. He came out to them in a big thing, and they really didn’t care all that much, because they already suspected it. But some of the things he reported to me worried me. So I made a decision. I wrote an email.
Yes a fucking email.
To my family. Telling them that I have never been straight. Never felt female. I told them a lot of things I’d never really spoken about before. I was worried, but not really. I was the oldest, and already out of the house, and really, they’d always treated me like the weird black sheep. Don’t ask me why. I wasn’t a problem child, but if you hear them tell it I worried them to no end. I guess straight A’s despite a disability, a leader in the ROTC, a scholarship to a UC, traveling the world, graduating…and all of that….was not good? I don’t know. I’m still bruised about that, as you can tell…but whatever. That’s how it is I guess.
They had questions.
I answered them. One of them had to do with some bad things that happened to me as a kid. I told them that sexuality and gender, at least mine, don’t have anything to do with that, because mine pre-dated that. And even if they did, so what? Why is that important? It’s who I am.
They chose not to talk to me about it and ignore it like it never happened. I had a fiance who was a male. so “who cares”.
I wrote some books. And I got back into touch with my dad. He and I started talking. He apologized. We argued, and by that I mean that I took him out and got him drunk and asked him what the fuck he thought he was doing. And he said “Yeah” and we bonded. He asked to read my books. He liked them.
No they aren’t the ones that are published. and they likely never will be beucase I’ve put them on the “rewrite before death” list. But, some of the characters and subjects had to do with LGBTQ. Then eventually he got to know me better and we talked about stuff and little by little, I think he got the clue. Then my other sister came out, and he was chill, while her mother was like OMG WHAT.
The last time I saw my mother, after Cinderella Boy was published, she said to me “What does cis mean?” And so…I got to explain to her what LGBTQ is. I got to explain that gender and sex, and sexuality are all independant of one another. I got to tell her, You would be called a cis hetero female, and listen to her say…”But why are labels important?”
I got to tell her that labels help us be visible, so they can’t ignore us, so they have to see our culture and acknowledge and protect us. I got to tell her that labels have give and take. That yes, it can backfire. I got to explain to her why I identify as queer, and what that meant, because to her it is a slur. I got to explain to my mom and my step dad…what it all meant. And it felt fucking weird.
But…they like my book. Which…I don’t know. Is it good? I guess. I’m not sure how I feel about them liking it. My mother said she cried, but at the same time, I’m like, but why? Because you identify? I hope?
Point is… I never came out. I came out through what I wrote, through how I dealt with my secrets or lack thereof. I came out by what I defended and my politics, through arguments and fights. And I had it pretty easy.
Many people have it so hard. Some people are kicked out by their families, cut out. Some are called demons and heretics. Some are treated as if they don’t exist, and to me that’s fucking evil. Anyone who can cut a member of their family out because of who they love…loses the privilege of family in my book. You’re done. No more for you. When you’re old, you go straight to a fucking home. Paid for by medicaid because fuck you.
And it’s really that simple. No? Yes. Yes it fucking is. Your child fears you. They need your approval and you shun them. You should be ashamed. And your kid…shouldn’t ever have to acknowledge you as a parent again. Never.
So…I had it simple. I had it a bit rough on my nerves, but not on my ability to cope. I was lucky. But I had friends who weren’t. And their stories haunt me.
I don’t know that I have advice for those still waiting to come out or dealing with the aftermath, accept to say that if you fear your parents, you likely have reason to and to trust your feelings. And if you face shunning, and hate yourself…you’re looking at it wrong. You’re not to blame. Parents who treat their children like that…give up the right. They absolutely do. You don’t need them. You can survive. I know it hurts to feel like your family can’t accept you. I really do, because I did live with that. All I can say is that blood is not family. Family are the ones who care for you. Blood doesn’t matter. Find people who will care for you. Treat them like family.
Find people here, anywhere really, who can help you feel normal. Find people you can vent to. Find support anywhere, and shun the ones who won’t love you for the amazing person you are.
And sin? That’s some shit right there. I could go on about that all damn day. I won’t. Gay is not a sin. Sin is stupid. Come at me about sin, I’ll shut you down.
And you know what…there’s always saying “Yeah, hell oughtta be fun, because all the cool folks are there.” and walking away.
And then there’s choosing to engage and answer questions. But i’ll say this, most often, people trying to destroy you…aren’t interested in your answers. So don’t bother.