Sunday, 9 October 2011

Coming out as bisexual to my parents

This one's a tough one. Every coming out is different, so here's mine.

It was March 2010. I was one month off being 18. I had realised I was bi when I was 14. I was out to my friends at school; I'll let them know pretty soon after meeting them, just when it came up. So that wasn't really a coming out, just an establishing etiquette, just 'oh right, ok, more new information about the person I just met'.

I was looking forward to it, and dreading it. I had felt guilty about concealing a key part of who I was from two of the most important people in the world to me. I knew my father would be fine about it. However, my mother...

A few months before, I had come into the school sobbing, having been on the school run with Mum. The conversation was about gay parents adopting, based on something on the radio we were listening to, and somewhere along the line she had said the words 'But being gay isn't natural, is it?'

I managed to keep from crying right there and then but I only just made it my group of friends before blubbing.

So, when my mother had said something like that, you can see why she was the one out of the two making me nervous. And that's the reason I chose to do it the way I did.

I wanted to get some driving practice in off-road with a parent before I started lessons, so over the weeks of February, March and April, every Sunday a parent and I would go out to a bridle way out in the fields, and I would attempt to trundle along at 5mph, stalling as I tried to get from 1st to 2nd.

This particular Sunday in March, I had chosen to talk to my Dad. I saw it as my best option to talk to him first, alone. And I still think it was the best, because that's how it went, and I'm not going to let myself look back and critique how I could have done it better.

We did one circuit of this path, then I stopped the car. I had to brace myself; I was still nervous, even though Dad was the one I had confidence in. I hadn't done it for so long for many reasons, but one was simply that it felt really weird to announce it, to just blurt it out and expect a reaction. I'm not a shy person, but even for me, it was almost embarrassing. It felt like I was saying to them 'Look at me, I'm important, I'm special, make a big deal' and whilst I'm extrovert, I'm not immodest.

So I sat there for a moment, then said "Dad, I need to tell you something." Lord knows what went through his mind at that point.

Then I think I said "I'm bi," as opposed to 'bisexual'.

There was a pause, and then he said something like "Right, okay, um, do you want to continue driving?"

And I said, a little taken aback, "Oh, ok, yeah sure." I reached for the keys but he spoke again.

"I mean, do you want to talk about it or what?"

"Well, if you want to ask anything or whatever. I mean, I'm very sure about it."

And then he started saying things that, in the fragile state I was in, made me start to cry. He said all the things I had been dreading from my mother - phase, confused, don't know who you are, all that kind of thing. I think he was just trying to cover all bases, to let me know he supported me wherever I was about the whole thing.

At my tears, he realised he hadn't got it quite right, and he tried to reassure me. He even went as far as to start to tell me how much experience he had with gay men and gay clubs. That shocked me enough to calm down. I did not need to know about my dad as a young man, thank you!

So we both eventually calmed down, and decided to give up on the driving. We switched seats, and he drove home. On the way, we discussed how I had to tell my mother immediately, who we would tell in the family (ie not the grandparents), that sort of thing.

When we got back, I went through the door and called out to Mum; she was in the living room. I went in and asked her to sit down, there was something I wanted to share with her (that particular phrasing, 'share', had been my Dad's suggestion).

So I sat on the corner of one sofa, and she on the corner of the other sofa, and I think that second time, I used the word 'bisexual'. I'm a little hazy on the details, but I think my mum only really said 'are you sure?'. It was only a quick conversation, and she went back to ironing.

This sounds perfectly fine, right? But thing was, she had this disappointed, and slightly confused air about her. She didn't know how to react - I'm not sure she's ever had any gay friends, whereas obviously my dad has. It was difficult for her to comprehend. 18 months later and she's never mentioned it, so I still don't really know what she thinks of it. But again, it would feel weird to provoke her to tell me, to ask her outright, demand attention like a toddler.

The next step is if and when I next get a girlfriend, and first tell them about her, then introduce them to her.

Phew, well this has been a bit emotional. I'll stop there.


PS I don't feel like this is an inspirational blog, though in some ways I hope it is. So here is a blogpost I do think is inspirational.

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