How Coming Out Caused Me To Lose My Mother
By Bianqua Hunter
When I hear the phrase “coming out,” I always picture a big, tough, athletic football player whom no one suspects would ever have an interest in the same gender. For that reason, I never thought I had a coming out story. As a child, I was labeled a Tomboy, and it has followed me my entire life. When most 7-year-old girls were playing with Barbies and dreaming of being princesses, I was somewhere playing with cars and dreaming of playing football. It’s safe to say that not much has changed since then. For this reason, you can probably see why I didn’t feel that I had a coming out story. However, after doing some self-reflecting, I realized that I do!
I was only 15 when my mother was confronted with the reality of my sexuality. It was a known fact amongst my peers that I was gay, but it was a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation in my home. My mother owned a hair salon near my high school. She was loved by anyone who knew her. Anyone could walk into her salon and be greeted with warmth and laughter, and that is exactly what my ex-girlfriend did one day. At the time, we had been broken up for a few months. I had moved on; however, she still seemed to be holding on. One day, out of spite, she decided to schedule an appointment at my mom’s salon. She conspired to end up in my mother’s styling chair, but a boomerang shook up her plan when she learned that my mother was booked on that particular day. Still determined to shake things up, she settled for the next best thing: my mother’s close friend, who was also a stylist.
She walked into the salon that day equipped with just enough information to blow up my world. The day of her hair appointment, I received an odd call from her. I figured something was up because we were not on speaking terms at the time. It was also a little suspicious that she called me from an unknown number, and since I was on break from band practice, I answered. She sounded extremely bubbly and was being super affectionate, calling me baby, and being extra. Little did I know, she was already in the salon chair. Our conversation was brief, but enough to start a conversation at the salon with my mother’s friend.
“Oh is that your boyfriend?” I later learned that my mother’s friend asked her.
“No, I don’t have a boyfriend,” my ex replied.
“Oh, you just have a boo thang. Does he go to school with you?”
“Yes, she does.”
“Ooooh, okay. Let me guess, she plays basketball?”
“She did, but she quit to focus on playing in the school’s band.”
That little bit of information was enough for my mom’s friend to begin connecting the dots, and she began to dig a little deeper.
“Oh, she’s in the band? What instrument does she play?”
“She played the saxophone, but she’s a drum major now, so she doesn’t really play. If you’ve been to one of our games, you probably saw her out there dancing.”
“I think I have. Do y’all visit each other at home?”
“Yes, her mom’s house is beautiful. She has this big fish tank; it’s cool.”
The funny part about that is that my ex had only been inside of my home once. I had surgery on my breast to remove a lump, and everyone came over to visit me, including my ex.
Anyway, with all of the information my ex shared, you can probably guess that my mother’s friend couldn’t wait to tell my mom about their encounter. Later that night, as I was in my room doing homework, I heard my mother slam the front door and yell my name at the top of her lungs. I was a good kid. I went to school, band practice, and then to my job. So to hear her scream my name, indicating that I was in trouble, came as a shock. I walked into the living room. There she stood, so angry she had tears in her eyes, and her lips were clenched. Before I asked what I had done to get in trouble, my 11-year-old sister, who was standing behind her crying as well, mumbled, “Just tell her Bianqua”. I was confused. My mother finally mustered up the words, “Are you a dike? Are you?” I was too stunned to answer. In my mind, I was shocked by how angry she was. I’ve never been the girly girl type, and I had always been a good kid. I didn’t understand. What happened next showed me just how differently my mom and most people view homosexuality. To my shock and horror, my mother told me that she would choose seeing me as a pregnant teen over seeing me as a “dike.”
Several weeks later, I moved with my grandmother to avoid finding myself in the middle of a physical altercation with my mom. Yes, things got that bad. Our relationship quickly withered to nothing and for the next two years, my mother and I barely spoke to one another. I wasn’t even sure if she would attend my high school graduation. Thankfully, she did. As time went on, we were able to grow closer. Unfortunately, it was tragedy that brought us back together. I revealed to my mother that her ex-husband molested me when I was 13, and explained that I intended to press charges. For the first time in two years, she saw me as her child again. She praised me for having the courage to speak out, which is something that she felt she could never do. Despite the fact that my ex-stepfather was monitoring us and continuing to threaten us, I moved forward because I desired to be free in all aspects of my life.
Although our relationship had drastically improved, there’s was still an elephant in the room, a conversation that we were avoiding. We finally confronted that elephant nearly a year later after my mother fell ill. I had been staying with her so that I could take care of her and one day, a “Dr. Phil” episode about a teen who was abandoned by her mother because of her sexuality came on.
“Why are you gay?” my mother finally asked.
Exhausted with the avoidance game, I chose to hit her with the truth:
“I didn’t choose to be gay, mom, I just am. Do you think I would choose to be gay and risk losing my mother during my last 2 years of high school? I don’t know why I’m gay; I was gay before I knew I was gay.”
She didn’t seem to understand, so I elaborated:
“I remember in elementary having a crush on girls, not boys. I saw boys as cool or cute, but I didn’t like them. I didn’t know that my feelings were considered bad until we were in church when I was 8 and the pastor kept yelling, ‘Girls liking girls, being gays, they’re going to hell!’ I wanted to run away because I thought my wrong would send you to hell. I hated my feelings, I suppressed them to fit in and be normal.”
Still trying to make sense of it a ll, she asked if the molestation had anything to do with it. I confessed that it did, but not in the way she may have thought. Being molested didn’t make me gay, but it did cause me to do some self-reflecting and embrace the feelings I had been feeling all along. I braced myself for another mean outburst from my mother, but her reaction actually surprised me. She confessed that she knew that I was different since I was three. She knew I would be gay and many of the people around her said that I would be. But I was her first daughter, and she chose not to accept it. She had my entire life planned out in her head already, so she denied what she knew to be true. We hugged and I just asked her to love me. I face so much judgment when I’m out in the world, I need to be reminded that I’m loved when I’m at home.
That night I came out of the closet and closed the door. That night I found peace within myself. That night I got my mommy back, and I’m glad I did. Nine months later, she passed away. She passed away scared for me in a judgmental world; she also passed away not knowing the outcome of my case.
She didn’t get to hear that her lesbian daughter made state history as the youngest person to file charges on their own and win a life verdict. My stepfather was found guilty on four counts relating to child molestation and sentenced to four years. I’m thankful that my mother and I had our talk, and I believe everything happens for a reason. My mother’s revelation gives me the belief that many parents know the truth, but they choose to deny it. Many of them are more angry that their child is not living the dream that they planned out, than they are that their child is homosexual. Death is real and it is unexpected. Do not regret taking the time to love your flesh and blood over your failed dream. Love your child because more than likely than not, they didn’t change when you found it the truth; the way you see them, and treat them changed.