The anticipated pain and the fear of what might happen by coming out is less scary than a life in the closet. Eventually you realize that a closeted life is going to be more painful and unpleasant than whatever the worst possible consequences could be of coming out.
I was afraid that my parents would reject me. I was afraid that they would throw me out of the house. Every day from the time I was about 11 or 12 until I came out to my mom when I was 17 or 18 and to my dad when I was 20, every day when my parents told me that they loved me I thought no you don’t.
If you knew me, if you knew what I was you wouldn’t say that and that is a horrible thing and I was really close to my mom and we were really you know total mamma’s boy. We were really tight and to doubt her love every day from 12 to 17 was kind of emotionally shredding and I just realized my parents were wonderful parents. They raised four really great kids and they taught us to be honest. They taught us to have some integrity and to be ethical and what they taught me about how to live my life was on a collision course with who I was and I couldn’t lie to them about who I was and be the person that they had raised me to be.
I was ready to come out to my mom when I was 14 or 15 years-old, but then my dad left and divorced my mom and I didn’t want to pile on though you know this will take your mind off the divorce mom. Hey, crying lady in your room in the middle of the night I’ll give you something to cry about, so I waited a couple of years to tell her and it was hard when I told her. She didn’t react.
She reacted pretty well and I want to say I was Catholic and that was the most horrifying, horrible thing about my coming out, but my mom went directly to her priest, Father Tom, called him over and sat down on the porch swing and told Father Tom the news that I was gay or had told her that I was gay and she wanted to know what to do and it makes me cry every time I talk about it, but Father Tom put his hand on my mother’s knee and said, “Judy, I’m gay.”
And he came out to my mother at that moment just as I had come out to my mother the day before and that helped my mother so much because Tom was a good friend and we were so Catholic we had priests. He was one of our priests, and for him to do that for me at that moment really kind of nullified some of my anger at the Catholic Church because that did help my mother and he told her it was better for me to be out and gay than to live the way that he had lived and I was on the verge of living the way he had lived.
I was thinking about being a priest so I could be closeted all my life and then I realized I could live in a big house and wear dresses and fuck boys without being a priest.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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