October 11 is the International Coming Out Day. It has been a tradition here at qLit to celebrate this day by honoring stories that our community members had shared with us during the year.
Coming out is a process, and an especifically difficult one, no matter where you were born. It is particularly those closest to us - our family - that we struggle the most to share our most intimate truth with. Even if it may seem it is our individual fight, we are together in this. Let us hear four stories from around the world.
“I came out to my mom almost 6 months after realizing it myself. Her reaction was really emotional. Since my mom is religious and also full of stereotypes, she blamed herself for what was happening to me. She had wanted a boy when she was pregnant with me and she thought that was why I had become a lesbian. For several years she really struggled in her mind to accept me, even if on the surface our relationship seemed fine. But then one day, just a year ago, as she was sitting at the table during breakfast she suddenly told me: “I am sorry I was not able to accept you for who you are.” It was her way of saying that something has changed in her and she has found peace. And something really did change, because now I am really close to my mom and I tell her all of my struggles as a lesbian.”
Sirri (Northern Ireland)
“The toughest person to come out to was my Dad. It was 2014, I had met the woman I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I realised it was always going to be difficult to come out to him given the more conservative and religious outlook that's held in Northern Ireland. Still, I really wish I could have said 'Dad, I've got a girlfriend and there's something you need to know - she slurps her tea', but instead it had to be about her gender, which is such a small and uninteresting part of someone. Unless you've been there, you can't understand the fear and pain of having to say the words 'I'm gay' to someone you love, not knowing if they're ever going to look at you or love you the same way from that moment on. But the words were blurted out accompanied by lots of tears (from me), 'I can't say I'm not disappointed' was definitely the lowest point of the conversation, but I think once he got to know my partner, he realised that my life wouldn't be as hard as he first worried it would be.”
Alyssa (Midwest, USA)
“I was 18 years old and I was at home on winter break from college. I really felt at the time that I could not fully experience an authentic life without my parents knowing who I was. Once I told them, I could finally be an openly gay person. But it was no easy task. Both of my parents grew up in the same conservative small town that had stifled my own existence. For most of my life they were not my family who I trusted and felt safe with, but rather more like enemy spies who would turn on me if they knew the truth. When I went to college it became clear to me that I needed to see a therapist about my struggles with my sexuality. She helped me prepare a letter of what I would want to say to my parents. My 2012 New Years resolution was to read that letter to my parents.
On January 2nd of that year I sat them down and started reading. I’m not sure I can offer much detail about what happened next because the panic had hijacked my mental faculties, but my mom cried and my dad debated as if his logic could poke enough holes in this new reality to make it go away. The next thing I truly remember is driving to my brother’s house thinking, “I am free” and a phone call the next day from my mom asking, “are you sure?”
It wasn’t until a few years later that my mom would come around. One day her sister (my aunt) had come up to her to ask, “Is Alyssa gay?” My mom reluctantly confirmed that I was. My aunt then went on to tell her that she found out about me from two people gossiping about me in line in front of her at the local grocery store. I believe this was a turning point for my mother. That day she learned that there would be enough people against me in this world that didn’t even take the time to know me; she shouldn’t be one of them.”
“Considering I came out in the middle of an argument (which I sincerely advise against), it was also pretty funny: my mother was questioning me about a pretty expensive telephone bill and I ended up exclaiming that I was calling a girl and that I was dating that girl. My mother’s response was “I don’t care who you’ve been calling; look at this phone bill!”. We later talked about it and she told me that her only concern was my happiness, and that she would welcome whoever I found it with into our family.
I must say I do make a point of coming out in the most random of settings. Even at work. I will mention it casually or make a lesbian joke in the middle of a conversation. I will flamboyantly “lesbian myself” into any situation. I believe that making it slip so naturally into a conversation will contribute to make it natural in the future. I have the privilege of being able to do it freely, and many of us don’t. Until then, I’ll do my best to open the path for everyone to find that same freedom.
I do feel the need to say one thing, though: nobody owes anyone their coming out. We do not owe it to our coworkers, our acquaintances, or even our family members. Our identity is our own and, as any other part of our life, it is ours to reveal as we please. Especially if it might put us in danger.”
Read more: https://qlit.hu/en/lesbian-life-in-portugal/