So. I was talking on the phone with my mom yesterday, and in the middle of some fairly innocuous conversation she edited two words out of the discussion and made my whole day. I’m not even sure she realized she did it. But it mattered very much to me.
Here’s the thing. I came out to my parents about 7 years ago, and it was… very hard. Very hard. We went from being a close-knit family who talked all the time, about everything, to barely speaking, certainly about anything that mattered. They became strangers to me. My parents wanted me to drop out of college and go into full-time counseling. They went to one of those Truth Won Out conferences hosted by Focus on the Family. They emailed me quotes from the Bible. For them, it was a religious issue. For me, however, their lack of support – their near-disowning of me – was an enormous betrayal. (I’m amazed now to think how naive I was then, actually. When I look back on it, I had no real plan for discussing it with them, no vocabulary with which to articulate my feelings, no real understanding of what it would mean for me to say those words to them. I would do it so differently now, if I could.) I can still remember the way my mom’s voice sounded as she said quietly, “You know I love you, but this is. not. okay.” She was – and I’ve never seen a better example of the word – quite literally weeping, with the desperation of the truly lost.
It took me several years to be able to trust them again, and them several years to come to terms. We had to do a lot of slow and steady relationship building, including a minor intervention by some family members and a lot of hesitant, heavy conversations. When you’ve lost a thing you took for granted, you learn to appreciate the small victories. And yesterday, for the first time in 7 years, my mother didn’t say, “you think you’re gay.” As in, “Have you told your friend X that you think you’re gay?” Or, “Does your boss know that you think you’re gay?” Yesterday, she said, “Have you thought about how you’re going to tell Grandma you’re gay?”
Despite the fact that it’s going to be quite difficult to tell Grandma that I am, in fact, a big homo, I can’t tell you how big it is that my mom finally acknowledged that the past 7 years haven’t been just some figment of my imagination. Big day. Biiiig day.