Monday, February 4, 2008

When I Came Out to My Parents

I told my parents that I was gay when I was 22-years-old, almost two decades ago. There was no drama, really, so it was almost anti-climatic. They said that they were:

1.) surprised--(Really? I mean, really? For all of my purple-wearin', rainbow-lovin', zero-athletics, musical-theater, wannabe-dancin' ways and you were surprised?)

2.) sad--They said they didn't expect me to get married (to a woman), but that they were sad that I might have to be all alone. My sweet, little, innocent Japanese mom actually wondered aloud what I was going to do about my natural sexual urges. I don't recall responding with an answer, not outloud.

3.) okay with it--They said they were okay with it as long as I did what was right with God, mainly abstaining from any and all sex with men.

A few of my friends were mildly outraged. "How could they expect that of you?" they asked. "How could they possibly expect you to be celibate?"

I wasn't as upset as my friends were, with that specific reaction from my parents. "I already knew that that's how they would feel about it," I had said, trying to explain. "I wouldn't have told them if I didn't already agree with them, for the most part" (having been raised as a Christian).

And I wouldn't have told them if I hadn't been struggling with depression that summer. I had gotten my heart majorly broken for the first time, that year. I didn't eat much and I didn't go to dance class. I just went to work, ran around Disneyland as Pluto for Mickey's 60th Anniversary, that year, and then went home, straight to bed.

I wouldn't have told them if I hadn't needed help. I didn't know where else to look.

I also might not have told them if my mom hadn't gone into the hospital that year for "exhaustion." In her few weeks of hospitalization, and in the therapy workshops there, she and my father started to learn about family dysfunction. They had sent one of the family therapy books for me to read. I told my father, over the phone, that the book had come at a good time because I was "going through some things."

"I think you'd better come home and talk to us about this in person," he suggested. "I just hope it's not what I think it is."

I knew that he knew.

So, no fireworks, no screaming, no yelling, no storming out of the house in tears. No drama, really.

After telling them I was gay, my father also had said, "Well, I would have rather that you told us that you had gotten some girl pregnant."

My brother remembered that he'd said that when his girlfriend was pregnant, a few years later. He had wanted to say (but didn't), "Well, Mom and Dad, at least I'm not like Peter!"


Quin said...

it reminds me of the scene when juno tells her parents she was pregnant..

you were brave and it was difficult all around... (my daughter came out to me first, because she said she knew i wouldn't care, as long as she was in love).

in the end, we just want our children happy... and to be put in a home with silk plants and not plastic ones.

Erin said...

I remember the summer you came out to me - we were in the back of somebody's car outside of Harbor House, remember?? I loved that you told me because I knew then that you loved and trusted me. Wow, those were some tough times - I would never be that age again, Peter. Really.