Apologies in advance for the long post.
So today being bi visibility day has me thinking about the fact that I haven’t come out to my parents. Part of me thinks it makes more sense to wait until I’m dating a woman (which could be a long time or never) but on the other hand, I’m really close with my mother, and it feels weird that she doesn’t know.
My hesitation isn’t about the standard worries, per se. It’s more that I feel like I know how the conversation will go, and I’m dreading it. Any time I tell my mom that something she said was hurtful, she turns into this big deal where I’m calling her a bad mom and I’ve forgotten all the good things she’s done for me, etc. And she was a great mom! She was a sahm while I was little and then went back to work part time so she could ferry me to activities, help me with homework, etc. She always made sure I had what I needed for school and sacrificed so I could have cool opportunities. I like drinking wine and watching the terrible Kennedy’s mini series with her. I know she’d do anything for me.
BUT, she is super invested in my being feminine and pretty (and not a lesbian). And this has been a clear to me from the get go. When I wanted to buy army toys (probably 4) I got the message loud and clear that not only were they not for me, that it bothered her that I wanted them (I just had my my little ponies fight instead). When I wore slightly gender neutral cargo shorts and tanks back in the day (I think this had more to do with it being trendy at the time and less repressed same gender attraction) she was bothered. She told me when I was elementary school that I shouldn’t go to the military academies because they’d be full of lesbians, who molest me (or something). And she’s had a re-occuring dream (3 times at least) that I shave my head (not planning on doing that) and will mention it to me like “Oh I am soooo... glad that was a dream.” And she only bought organic milk because she read somewhere that hormones they give cows are why more people are gay now. In addition to that, she said some things that were not the best about lesbian and gay people when I was growing up, BUT was a lot better than some of the parents around growing up. Her tone in talking about it to me made it seem like an Unfortunate Thing, and she’d suggest it was the outcome of being troubled/not the best mental health (instead of maybe homophobia making people trouble?) When I started dating guys, she told me she was relieved (because of all the lesbians in the family I guess).
BUT she was also protective of lesbian and gay young people when it came to worse homophobes. She was MUCH better about my cousin being a lesbian than my very Catholic aunt and uncle were, and was one of the swimming moms who rallied around a friend of mine who was gay. But, she she felt sorry for his mom because she had two gay sons. Now, all of this happened between 1993 and 2007. For awhile she just went quit on lgbtq stuff, and now is generally progressive, although mostly ignorant about trans issues.
Anyways, I feel like when we’ve had similar conversations before, she takes a super defensive posture right away. For example, we were in a mall and a very overweight woman with a very bad blue dye job, raggedy hair and unflattering clothing walked by. Now, I put a lot of effort into my appearance, and I have to look conservative because I’m a law student soon to be lawyer, and I’d agree that’s not a look I want for myself. But she said “Thanks for not looking like that.” And I just said, “Why are you thanking me? If I looked like that I wouldn’t be hurting you.” There was a long convo about how I thought dying your hair in HS was a good idea because once you are a grown up you can’t get away with it and she disagreed and thought it was a Bad Idea for teens too, etc., but eventually and I was like “when you say stuff like that, it makes me feel crappy because what if that was me? I’m smart and in shape and accomplished and attractive but I don’t want to feel like I have to look a certain way or else I’m somehow hurting you. And growing up I felt like it was super important to be pretty.” And she flipped out. Like, accused me of calling her a bad mother, forgetting all she’d done for me, etc.
So my prediction for how coming out to my mother would go is that I’d tell her, she’d be like “Oh you know that doesn’t matter to me! I still love you!” and I can’t just sit there and take that from her. Was she a terrible mom? No. Was she a raging homophobe? No. But did she say stuff when I was a tween and experiencing attraction to girls that meant I decided that just doing the straight thing was the best plan? Yes. And I know a lot of the things she said she denies saying. Probably because she doesn’t remember them because they weren’t important to her. But they were super important to me.
She also has trouble with the whole bisexuals existing thing. Like, because Frank on “House of Cards” slept with two dudes, obviously gay and not really in love with Claire (I mean, what sort of love he’s capable of is another question, but still).
As for my dad, he’s always been super uncomfortable with my dating guys too (always referring to boyfriends as “friends” and the one time the structure of a question he was asking forced him to refer to a “date” and the guy I was currently dating he was super hilarious. “So when you and Cakeboy go... [long pause] on dates .....” ) which at this point I just sorta laugh off, as do other family members who’ve noticed the same thing (joking about my sister, her “friend” and their kids). His sister, my aunt is gay, has a long time partner and a kid they both adopted, and it took him a long time to realize he was the kid’s uncle. Like, during the process of helping her with her college aps. In fairness to him, lot of that had to do with the fact that my aunt wasn’t out to my grandmother so there was this weird dynamic where my grandmother (who was an awesome grandma to the other grandkids) didn’t understand why the roommate and her (badly behaved) kid had to come to Christmas. And of course the whole “don’t tell mom’s mom that she’s your mom” might have been a bit much for a 9 year old and contributed to some of the meltdowns (she’s a perfectly wonderful college student now). But yeah, I fully expect my dad to just kinda keep ignoring anything that has to do with me and sex anyways, so for some reason it seems like less of a big deal.
And I should add that I’m relatively old - 26 - to be coming out.