The Sweet Liberation of Honesty: My Story of Coming Out as an Adult

5 months ago

A straight friend of mine asked me the other day, “Why is coming out so important? Can’t you just live your life without explaining yourself to others?” While she meant well by asking that, she couldn’t understand the gravity of coming out, that it’s the acceptance that we seek and the fear of not receiving it that keeps us trapped. This secret will never stop weighing on you until those who matter to you know about it. And I kept this secret for a really long time.

I was around 20 when my sister asked me out of the blue if there was any boy that I liked. I was slightly taken aback but calmly answered, “Not really.”

And then she said, “Is there any girl you like?” It took this little question for me to finally say it out loud and fully realize it myself. Next, I gathered my friends and made an official announcement. I know this might sound way too dramatic, but it felt like (and was!) a massive ordeal for me, so talking to my friends about it was important.

They all told me the same thing: “Oh, we kinda knew.” So, that thing I had built as a massive barrier in my head was nothing to be afraid of. Years passed, I finished my studies, traveled abroad for work, and gathered life experiences. At 27, I was back in my hometown, and my life felt stable and certain for the first time. So, what do I decide to do? Well, I talked to my mother about my preferences.

My closest friends kept telling me, “Come on, she must have suspected something.” And while keeping that in mind can be relieving, I honestly didn’t think my mom was thinking this way. So, one day I sat down with her in our living room, as we often did, and started talking about random things. At one point, I changed the subject and started talking to her about my personal life.

We’ve never been the type of family where the kids talk freely with their parents about their boyfriends or girlfriends. So, I said, “Mom, you know I’ve never talked to you all these years about any guy. Do you know why that is? Well, it’s because I’m into girls.” Pure shock spread across her face as if I had dropped a bucket full of ice on her head. She hadn’t suspected a thing, she could barely form sentences.

While my heart was running a marathon, I explained some things to her since she was too shocked to ask questions. Eventually, she got up, went to her bedroom, and I went to mine. Nothing really changed between us, but for the next week, this piece of information was hanging over our heads like a thick veil of fog. But just like with fog, that veil went away at some point, and we went back to having our normal, loving relationship.

I am glad my mom doesn’t treat me any differently now that she knows something so vital about me. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with everyone that comes out to their parents and family. This girl I met a few years back told me that when she came out to her parents, they didn’t speak to her for 7 whole months. They refused to have a conversation with their child, who lived 300 miles away from them.

I have 3 very close friends who are also deeply afraid of having that conversation with their families. They are all worried that they won’t be accepted for who they are or, even worse, that their family will cut off communication with them. And even if you have the acceptance of everyone around you, what your parents think will always matter the most. These people know you the best when you’re young, but it can feel like they’re miles away when you’re older.

Not all of these instances are the same, and not everyone worldwide feels safe sharing this revelation. I am not telling you what to do, and I am not claiming to know everything. I am sharing my experience and letting you know that things can have a positive outcome. Before I came out to my mom, even going out on a date felt like I was hiding something.

I kept thinking, “What if someone sees me and goes to talk to my mom? I don’t want her to find out about me this way.” It was like an anchor was tied to my leg until I decided to let go of the anchor and take a deep breath. Okay, she might not be thrilled with her daughter being a lesbian, but I know that it’s a process and a long road I must guide her through. But the fact that she accepts me and loves me for who I am has given me more confidence than I could’ve ever imagined.

André Malraux once said, “Man is not what he thinks he is. He is what he hides.” This is just something to consider and try to realize if maintaining the secret makes you happy. And remember that despite what we think someone’s reaction might be, they could surprise us.

Preview photo credit Mahrael Boutros / Unsplash


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