Coming Out for Christmas
Twice in my life have I experienced a situation where two hours flew by so fast. The first time was when I defended my masters thesis, where I was so nervous and anxious that before I knew it, my two hour oral examination was over (I passed, of course). The second time occurred last Sunday when I came out to my Mom and told her about my rediscovered identity. I was equally nervous, and time flew by equally fast.
This Christmas we had to visit family out-of-state a couple of weeks before the holiday, and since I had set a goal to come out to my parents this year (at least my Mom for sure), I knew that this was my last opportunity to talk to them on a deep level in person. I decided that I would come out to my Mom (who I’m much closer to than my Dad) on Sunday, after my Dad left on a business trip, when we could be alone and talk things out, one-on-one. I went back and forth so many times in my head. Should I? Should I not? Then by 10 pm on the last night we were in town, I was sick of asking myself whether or not I would say anything that I told her I had some thing to reveal. I told her that I had rediscovered something important about myself, something positive after loosing all that weight and getting myself healthy, both physically and mentally. This was a way of telling her that what I was about to say was a positive thing, something that made me happy. Then I showed her a picture of Katie, and from the moment I saw her facial expression, I knew this was going to be a long and tough conversation. The plan I had in my head of how this was going to go down flew out the window, and the words to begin to explain this part of myself were hard to come by.
It was at this point I pored myself a glass of good Scotch and began to explain all the things I’ve learned from this community over years. How society paints gender as a binary, when in reality it’s so much more complicated. She asked whether I was gay, or needed to have sex with men, which was awkward to me since I’ve never felt like that. It took time to explain to her that I am happy in the middle of the gender spectrum, I have no desire to transition, take hormones, or have surgeries. She asked, “what if that changes in 10 years? What then?” I could only reply by saying I am happy as a man and as a woman. She had concerns about my wife, how she’s handled it? It again took time to explain that we are open and honest with each other, and that we have never been happier.
Her biggest concern was about children; future children to be exact, which we haven’t even planed for yet. She is concerned that we’ll screw up our kid’s lives if we’re not careful. All I could say is that my wife and I will make the best choices we can for the future. Mom was also conceded about Dad, and she felt very strongly that we shouldn’t tell him, for now at least, as she thought he might not handle it well. My family has never been good about expressing emotions or talking about deep feelings. These topics would best be avoided while I was growing up. Also, being from South America, my parent’s view on culture and society is very different from mine. The idea of alternative lifestyles is very foreign to them.
By 12:30 am, we had gotten to a good place to stop for the night. She could see where I was coming from and since my wife and I have our lives in good shape (we both have good degrees, good jobs, savings, etc.) this was a facet of my life she felt she could handle, we even ended the night by going through some of my favorite pictures she wanted to see.
This of course is not the end of the story; it’s only the beginning, which I am only beginning to understand. A couple of days after this emotional conversation, I realized I had made a mistake. It came after speaking to Mom over the phone, and I could feel her anxiety about holding this information from Dad. By telling only my Mom, I had placed her in an awkward situation where she couldn’t tell Dad about this. It’s not a fair situation and we decided that if either one of us felt like opening up to Dad, we would do it together the next time we see each other in person.
I keep asking myself, would I do it again given another chance? Right now I don’t feel that big weight lifted of my chest, but maybe with time this will be a positive aspect of our relationship. Taking the easy way by avoiding the conversation only leads to a more distant relationship. It was a tough road, a road that I am still traveling on, but I hope that it will be a rewarding, more fulfilling path. We all have so much more to learn…
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and Merry Christmas to all,