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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: Out and In

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I'm 15 years old and gay. I came out to my mom and she didn't take it the way that I had anticipated seeing as she's liberal and completely pro-equality. But only so long as it's not her child apparently. She finally sat me down and told me that I was "too young" and that it was "just a phase that I was experimenting with." And I told her that she was right. And after that, she let it go. Now I know that I should have never lied about me being gay, but I felt like I had to. But what do I do now? Will I ever be able to come out to her?

Back In The Closet Homo

My response after the jump...

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I'm sorry your mom is failing you right now, BITCH.

You told your mom an important truth—you're gay—and your mom responded not with love, not with the support you had a right to expect, but by forcing you to tell the lie she wanted to hear: you're not gay. Please don't beat up on yourself. There was an implicit threat in your mother's "too young" and "just a phase" comments: lie to me or else. You're still a kid, BITCH, and you're entirely dependent on your mother. She could throw you out of the house or pack you off to boarding school or send you to some awful in-patient ex-gay therapy program for teenagers "struggling with same-sex attraction." You lied to your mom under duress and you're not at fault.

Here's what I think is up with your mom: she may be liberal and pro-equality in theory, but she's homophobic in reality. And homophobes—even liberal ones—don't see gay people when they look at us, BITCH, they see gay sex. That's why rightwing Christian homophobes run around calling chaste gay people "ex-gay." If you define gay people by gay sex acts, then gay people who aren't having gay sex aren't gay people anymore. They're ex-gays. Couple a homophobe's inability to see gay people as people with a mother's desire for her young child not to become sexually active too soon, BITCH, and what you get is... well, what you get your mother's reaction to her son coming out.

You're only fifteen, BITCH, and your mom isn't ready for to see you as a fully grown and fully sexual person. That's what she meant when she said you're "too young." Your mom thinks you're too young to have sex and she doesn't think you can be gay without being sexually active so she selfishly forced you back in the closet for her comfort. Straight kids have sex too, of course, but to a homophobe being straight is about more than sex. Being straight is about romance and intimacy and longing and love and marriage and family and sex. Parents of straight kids focus on the love and romance and ignore the sex. Homophobic parents of gay kids can't do the same for their gay kids.

Unless your mother is seriously deluding herself, BITCH, she doesn't think you're straight. What your mom is asking you for—what she's asking for in a selfish, clumsy, and emotionally damaging way—is a little extra time. She wants to delay your coming out by a year or two because she's not ready to see you as a sexual person. My mother had a similar reaction. She didn't force me to lie to her after I came out (she didn't force me back in the closet), but she did insist that I not bring my boyfriend to the house. She just couldn't deal with it.

Just as you shouldn't feel guilty about lying to your mother for the time being, BITCH, you shouldn't feel guilty about pulling away from her either. Look for support elsewhere. Do you friends you feel safe coming out to? An adult you trust? Maybe the parent or parents of a good friend? A counselor at school? Lean on them. Don't let your mother draw you into discussions about your sexuality—change the subject if she asks about girls—and in three months or six months time, BITCH, come out to her again.

But first contact the PFLAG chapter nearest you, BITCH, so you can hand your mom the phone number for the PFLAG contact in your town when you do come out to her for a second and final time. If she starts in with the "too young" or "its just a phase" stuff again, tell her your mom you won't discuss your sexuality with her until after she's gone to at least two PFLAG meetings. Offer to go with her.

Finally, BITCH, coming out can be rough. Sometimes it's so rough that it makes being gay—or being openly gay—seem like it isn't worth the trouble. Remember, kiddo, it takes time for the good experiences to start piling up. One day, and one day soon, you'll realize that there are wonderful people in your life you wouldn't know if you weren't openly gay, you'll look back on some amazing experiences you wouldn't have had if you weren't openly gay, and you'll ne with an amazing, loving man you wouldn't have met if you weren't openly gay.

Don't let the pain and the hard work of this stage blind you to all the good stuff that's coming your way.

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