Multi Magazine is proud to present “Closets are for Coat Hangers,” a series about self-discovery and coming out celebrating LGBT Pride month this June.
February marked three years since I first came out as gay to my parents.
I had a good family; my mom always loved me so much. I’ve never really reciprocated that.
She showed it in little gestures. When I was in middle school, she’d get up 45 minutes early just to pack me my lunch. Mind you, she had to be up at 5:30 on regular days to catch her bus into the city. And then she’d come home, 8:30 at night and I’d complain that I was hungry, and she’d cook a full dinner for me, after 10 hours at work.
And even at 19, when I’m interning in the city, she’d wait for me at the bus stop for 40, 50 minutes in the cold, the sleet, the hard wind, the snow…just to go home with me. Just to sit on the bus with me and transact a few words to me, before we both dozed off to sleep. She knew I hadn’t eaten yet because she knew how carried away I got when at my job, so she’d get my favorite empanadas from Sophie’s just down 3 blocks from Worth street. She’d cradle the wrapped contents closely in her purse just so it stayed warm enough until I met her.
Because just to spend an hour of lunch together was priceless to her. She knew how much she worked and how badly she wanted to spend time with me. And in some ways, I felt like I was a bad daughter because I never made those amends for her.
Coming out, for me, was the type of fear that someone had never witnessed, yet knew how it felt. For instance, maybe you’ve never been shot, but you can imagine how that pain works. Or perhaps it’s like drowning, without knowing how to swim.
It was stumbling blindly in the darkest crevices of a tunnel; it was also one of the most cathartic experiences in my life. Like the surge of energy after a marathon, or the baby’s first look at its mother out of the womb.
What I was most afraid of was not the “coming out” part, but the aftermath. Like drowning, coming out is a process, one that gets scarier and scarier by the second. The water had been seeping and seeping in for years now, and after I said those words to my Mom, I was underwater.
And suddenly, I realized I didn’t know how to swim.
When I came out, I was scared of severing that relationship. That pain of not letting something heal is insatiable. Like a fresh wound, if you don’t care for it, it only gets worse.
For me, I knew I would be deprived of love, for myself, if I didn’t trust my Mom– that she could take this part of my identity, accept it, embrace it, and, with time, love me the same.
I’ve faced my fair share of of battles, and coming out as gay was one of them. Sometimes we walk out of these with open wounds.
That’s OK. They’re going to be there.
We must let pain and struggle win that first round. The second round. The third round. But these struggles are here, they are valid and important, and for the better, they can’t be erased. But they can be reconciled into something beautiful.
Coming out was scary, but it, but from it a new brand of confidence within me has grown. I’m still scared, I think…just a little less scared everyday.
My sexuality, my race, my sex— this does not define me. What I make out of all the crevices of inequality that I face in my daily life is what defines me. I define me. To embrace your identity starts with accepting yourself.
For the last year or so, my Mom still jokes about my “future relationships” and such. But this time, it’s different. She’s using “person, someone, them” to describe a significant other instead of “husband, man, boy, guy.” Maybe she’s is not ready yet to say “woman,” but to me and her, I feel this is a big triumphant feat established in such a small gesture.
Struggles—they compose a creative work, one which always work towards a goal. But the finished product is something priceless, it’s you—it’s now a piece of your personality and no one take that away from you. It is a process, one that never stops growing, and never one single occurrence. Because here is always peace after the storm, the ocean’s consumption a mere temporary experience. It becomes a fresh opportunity to reconcile the impact of your struggles and paint the facets to one of the thousands of renaissances you get to experience in a lifetime.