Usually when someone asks me about my "coming out" story, I generally just refer to the two times I told my mom and her reaction to the big news. That's not my story. My story is actually a lot more than that. In my opinion my coming out story is when I came out to myself.
"Cash, you are gay. Not just a little gay, but really gay." A revelation of sorts.
Just for old time's sake, let's begin with the two instances in which I came out to my mom.
The first time, I was an 18-year old freshman in college home for the weekend. I just knew I had to let her know because it was driving me mad that she didn't. It was the perfect time, no one else was home and she was in the living room watching TV.
"Mom, I like girls."
"Like girls? Like, how?"
"Like, really like them."
"Ew, are you serious?"
The reaction I think most of us dread was my reality and staring me directly in the face. My mom's reaction to the news was the opposite of what I hoped for, but sadly exactly what I expected. Growing up, she made it clear that she tolerated gay people but did not support their lifestyle in any way.
She talked, I listened. I talked, she didn't listen. After a little while of disagreeing, I finally couldn't take it anymore and left. I packed up my bags and headed back to campus.
I tried to be gay for about two months. Then a guy showed up and I was "straight" again. My mom was happy and things were great. Right. No, things sucked. Over the next four years I tried church and somehow believed that I was going to get over my feelings for women.
I had another conversation with myself, which went something like this:
"Cash, you are gay. Not just a little gay, but really gay."
The second time I told my mom I was gay, I was 23 and my parents were in town visiting for the weekend. I texted my mom earlier in day telling her that I needed to talk to her alone while she was in town, locked in. No backing out at that point.
Of course, I was nervous again. I was worried about having to see the disappointment on her face, the disgust in her eyes. Ugh, I should've just stayed gay the first time. Who in their right mind would go through this more than once?
"Mom, I still like girls."
"I thought you were cured of that…?"
"No, I still like girls. It never went away."
Surprise, surprise, she still didn't take the news too well. By the time I told my mom I was gay the second time I had already been living a gay lifestyle for a few months and I was finally happy. There was no way her response was going to deter me this time. I stopped feeling guilty for thinking that women were attractive. It was refreshing, and for the first time in 23 years I allowed myself to be content with what I knew I had been feeling.
I came out at 23 years of age, in Louisiana where I finally accepted that I am a lesbian.
It's been a little over two years since I came out to myself, my mom and my friends and things have gotten increasingly better over time. My mom and I didn't talk for months after that. It was difficult but thankfully I had a great support system of old and new friends. I had people in my corner going through the same things. It was comforting knowing I wasn't alone.
I have a coming out story, but my hope is that the generations to come don't have to have a coming out story. That they know what gay is. What a lesbian is. What transgender is. I hope that they know that whatever their sexual orientation is, they are going to be loved and supported by their communities. Love is love.