“I just want you to love me and treat me the same as before…can you do that for me?”
“I’m disappointed in you.” I remember those words reverberating in my head, a continuous echo, a hammer pounding a nail deeper into my heart, until my heartbeat was nothing but a dull murmur. The line goes dead and I stare at the cell phone in my hands for what feels like several moments, feeling the slight weight and warmth from when it was pressed against my face. This small device delivered the message that the family member I value the most, my own mother, might no longer love me in the same way. That’s when the tears start to fall. I sob uncontrollably, maybe the worst I’ve cried in my life.
I shed a lot of tears the day I came out to my mom but I’m proud I did it. I was tired of lying to her and myself. In the spirit of pride month, I decided to share for the first time on such a public platform my journey of how I realized I was bisexual and the little bumps I had along the road.
I honestly thought it all started when I went away to college but thinking back I probably had an inkling the summer before. I was at the beach enjoying the last few days I had with my friends from high school.
Sitting on a blanket spread out on the sandy shore, watching some of them play in the shimmering water I found my eyes being drawn to one in particular, Rose. She was tall, beautiful in an unassuming way, with a radiant personality to match. I glanced to my right and saw Mark, Rose’s boyfriend, watching me. We had this moment of eye contact, both subtly assessing each other.
“You should be careful. If you break up with her or do anything stupid when she goes away to university, I’ll steal her from you.” I told him flat out. We laughed afterwards as if it was a joke, but I realize now that I was dead serious. Even though I had only ever dated guys in the past, I was thinking about dating a girl for the first time ever. Denial had me convinced I wasn’t gay though. I was probably just “Rose-sexual”.
Coming to college in America opened my eyes and literally changed my world. I would often see same sex couples walking around holding hands or showing public displays of affection on campus, and no one seemed to question it. I was quick to adjust to this unfamiliar environment and even made my first G.B.F (gay best friend) Charlie. He is the one that really set things into motion for me. My other friends and I were dragged to a Gay Student Association meeting and there I made a big discovery about myself, I was scared of lesbians. It was a mixture of fascination and curiosity that manifested itself into fear. If I was asked to describe that fear, I would have said I was nervous. This confused me, and I spent the rest of that meeting and the night worrying about why I felt that way.
I happened to see an article about Lauren Morelli, one of the writers of Orange is the New Black, where she spoke about how she realized she was gay on one of her first days on set, because she was uncomfortable around groups of lesbians (she’s now married to one of them). This is when things started to make a little more sense to me, but of course if anyone asked me I would deny it. I was in a constant state of war within myself. Did I like girls? Since when?
Then I met HER.
A bundle of energy topped by the wildest and most attractive head of hair I’ve ever seen. She was under five feet tall but her presence made her seem larger than life. I fell for her hard and fast and there was nothing I could do about it. My feelings for Isabella went against everything I knew. All the borderline homophobic teachings from my home country, where I was taught that gay people were to be shunned until they changed their ways, and the formal Christian values instilled in my brain from spending my whole life in church, where I was taught that being gay was a sin punishable by eternal death, were overwhelming me. They caused me to stay in denial for months about my feelings, until something miraculous happened. She liked me back. All bets were off. I decided that I would think of the consequences later, not worry about labeling myself, and just enjoy the present.
Isabella and I enjoyed a very intense albeit short term romance. When our chapter was over, I was coming to terms with the fact that I dated a girl and I almost at the point where I was ready to admit I was gay.
Then I met HIM.
Jonah looked like the definition of hipster, had a deep soothing voice, and on top of all that, he played the guitar. I fell for him almost instantly. He was chivalrous and seemed like he would be a loyal boyfriend. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out because he wasn’t into me but I was definitely attracted to him for a long time. This is when I started getting confused again. I thought that because I had a crush on Isabella that meant I was gay, but I could still have feelings for guys as well. I did some research, mainly asking my friend Charlie, googling all things sexual orientation, and watching all the LGBT movies or tv shows I could find. I determined that even though sexuality and attraction are forever changing and on a spectrum, that for now I would identify myself as bisexual.
My friends at college took the news really well, besides questioning if I was sure I wasn’t just a lesbian. Either way I felt supported and thankful for my friends. Through all of my whining about people not liking me back, and mood swings from being uncertain of myself, they stuck by me. I was so happy that I started telling any new people I met that I was bisexual. But it was telling my family or even people back home that I was worried about, in some ways I was still in the dreaded closet. My junior year of college I went to another Gay Student Association meeting where people shared their Coming out stories, and I was scared because almost all of them did not have immediate positive resolutions. I went back to the dorms that night and watched a movie recommended at the meeting called “Pariah” and cried my eyes out at the ending. But I started to prepare myself. I loaded up my favorite Korean drama on a new tab to watch afterwards in case I needed cheering up, and I made sure I had enough loan money in my Savings account to pay for the next semester at college just in case. I sat on my bed and made that important call to my mother on September 17th, 2016.
“Hey Mummy. How are you doing?”
“I’m fine, just watching some TV,” my mother says sounding distracted.
“Well ok. Can you go in the other room? I have something to tell you.”
“What is it? Can’t you just tell me here?” she says confused.
“Please Mummy, it’s important.” I wait a couple moments while she grumbles and relocates herself.
“Okay, what is it? Are you alright?” she asks with concern in her voice.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just have something to tell you.” I spend a couple minutes gathering up the courage.
“Are you pregnant?” my mother suddenly asks in alarm.
“What? No! Why is that the first thing you jump to?” I say laughing.
“I don’t know. You won’t tell me so I’m trying to guess.”
“Well, it’s nothing like that. I just wanted to tell you that I’m bisexual.”
“What does that mean?”
I roll my eyes.
“It means I like both guys and girls.”
There was a moment of silence.
“No you’re not.”
“Yes I am. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now, and I thought I should let you know.”
“I’ve heard about stuff like this. It’s a choice and you’re choosing wrong.” She says with a hint of anger.
“No Mummy. It’s not something you can just turn on and off. If that was the case then no one would choose to be gay, they would choose the easier life.”
“You’re not gay. No child of mine would be going to hell for such a silly reason.”
“So you’re telling me I’m going to hell?”
“Well, what do you want me to say?”
“I was hoping that you would accept it, you don’t have to like it, but accepting it is enough for now.” I plead.
“I will never accept it.”
“I just want you to love me and treat me the same as before…can you do that for me?” I can hear the desperation in my voice.
“I’m disappointed in you” she replied callously. “Until you come to your senses, let’s not talk about this again,” my mother says with a note of finality in her voice. She got what she wanted. To this day I haven’t breached the subject with her again. For now, I will let her live in her denial. I have come out to all of my friends back home when I visited for the holidays that year, despite my mother wanting me to keep it hidden. I told myself that I will no longer lie about who I am, people will just have to love me for me, or not love me at all. So even though coming out is stressful and hard for a lot of people, the relief that you feel for being true to yourself is worth it.
Happy Pride Month!
This post was written by guest writer Aesha!