Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Coming Out...

Coming out. It makes it sound so simple, even easy. As if you just walk out of the closet. Easily opening the door and stepping out of the dark confines of the said closet into the light outer world.

But it is not. It is more like a rebirth. Having to tear your way into being “allowed” to live your life honestly. And like birth, it is easier for some than for others. Although the fact that your family or friends might accept you, does not mean that the rest of the world is eagerly standing in line to make you feel like a “normal” individual.

I met my partner at the office. We both claim that it was love at first sight (which I am still sure of today). It was definitely the strongest, most amazing feeling that I have ever had. We moved in together two years later.

Now all of this is an easy and wonderful experience for heterosexual couples. You fall in love and tell the whole world about it. Your colleagues know, your family knows. You plan your engagement, your wedding, your wonderful house. And it seems that the whole world plans with you.

In a homosexual relationship it is not the same. You don’t tell your work colleagues about your wonderful partner, because it takes one homophobic idiot to make the rest of your work experience horrible. You can’t tell your family, because you first have to explain to them why this wonderful person you are going to share your life with is also a girl. You have to get through the “Mommy I am gay” talk first before you can proceed with planning your life. It seems that you have to think of everybody else first before the two of you can proceed with enjoying your own life.

My partner, Sonia, was the first to pop out. We were driving home from work one afternoon and she said: “I need to tell my mom.” If I said that I wasn’t immediately stressed, I would be lying. I told her as much as well, but she assured me that her mother was wonderfully open-minded. She even had gay friends and was always supportive of gay rights. There would be no problem.

How wrong we were. It was a horrible experience. Her mother completely freaked out. Threw every insult and threat at us. Even told her that she would rather have her be a whore than a homosexual. Ranted that she could no longer look Jesus in the eye. Threatened to cut her own daughter out of her life. Sonia’s reply was simple. Go ahead. I have a life to live and I’m simply not willing to give up a life partner for a familial prejudice. The month we moved in together her mother attempted to commit suicide.

Its two years on and worth every horrible word, every insult and every tear. Now we have dinner at her mother’s house, go out for lunch and can have polite, sometimes even affectionate conversation.

After the issues with Sonia’s mother I felt like I had a rock in my stomach when it came to have “the discussion’ with my parents. While being liberal in many ways, my mother was also dominating and strict through my teenage years. She was prone to overreacting to circumstances and would rarely hesitate to punish me by completely refusing to talk to me until I rectified my error.

I was terrified of telling her that, in addition to the piercings and tattoos that she hated, I now also had a girlfriend in tow. Ever time I tried to have ‘the talk” I would freeze up and end by mumbling some nonsensical sentence that I thought made the entire situation clear. Which it obviously didn’t.

I ended up by sending my dad an e-mail. Cowardly, maybe. But it was all I was capable of after two months of working myself into a complete state. My father replied to me by saying that he would approach the subject with my mother, but he did sometimes wonder why our family always had to push boundaries. My mother responded via instant message within half an hour. The message read: I love you no matter what and am still proud of you. I was absolutely stunned. Taken aback by her absolute acceptance of my lifestyle.

Since then they have gone out of their way to make my partner feel accepted in the family. They are wonderful and love her for the person she is, in addition to being part of the family now.

Sometimes people surprise you. At times happily so. And at times they sadly disappoint you more than you expected…

Please do not hesitate to share coming out stories. Young woman need to realise that they are not alone. That sometimes you expect the worse and better happens. And then, sometimes it is much worse than you expected. But you always get through it. There is always a brighter side where you can continue with your life honestly. Where you do not have to lie about your partner, your lifestyle or your choices.

Heya! I am Sonia, the partner J Coming out to my mother was an ordeal, she shattered the idea I had of her, the open-mindedness I counted on was applicable “to other people’s daughters” and not necessarily to hers, but, as bad as things got, there is nothing that compared to the relief that followed.

The reality is that it does not matter to how many people you come out to, you will throughout life be faced with many others, what changes is your predisposition and the ease with which you will handle any situation you are faced with. And as much as you think at the time that there is no easy solution in sight, keep in mind there are many other people out there faced with tougher choices!

Please note that a different topic will be posted every few weeks, and coming out stories seemed to be the best way to kick start this.

No comments: