When I came out to my mother, she was dropping me off at the airport to go visit my first “real” girlfriend, who lived in Brooklyn. I had lied and told my mother that I was going to visit an old male friend from college. Right before we pulled up to my airline’s entry, she told me that the son of one of her close friends had told her friend that I told him I was gay (say that three times fast.) Although I was in the closet at the time, I never lied about my sexuality when asked. So I told my mother that it was true. When her friend’s son attempted to “holler” at me, I frankly informed him that I dated women.
When I got out of the car at the airport, my mother gave me the tightest and longest hug that she had ever given me. Then she told me that she loved me. I was so in awe of my mother’s acceptance. I couldn’t believe that I unnecessarily lied to her about who I was visiting. In fact, I felt extremely guilty about it because I was hopping on a plane to go see someone whom I had met on Myspace. Before coming out, my mother and I had a bond where if I was going on a date, I would leave my mother with the telephone number and license plate of the person I was going out with (just in case anything were to happen).
The first person that I came out to was my boyfriend of three years. That was a revelation that was fairly easy due to the amount of openness that we shared. For a while, that was a secret that only he and I concealed. But of course, along with that revelation, separation eventually took place, which was tumultuous. The way that relationship ended was so dramatic, that I felt announcing that I was a lesbian would be almost soap opera status. I also didn’t want people to equate my love for women to being a result of what transpired between my ex-boyfriend and I. In addition to that, I was raised in the church. I had no idea how my speaking-in-tounges, praise and worshipping, intercessor praying and laying on the altar mother would take her daughter being queer. I was afraid of being judged and people amounting my queerness to their own assumptions.
My mother and I had our ups and downs and it took us some time to get where we were. She was always my biggest cheerleader, but I had no idea that she would also be my biggest defender. Once I came out to her, she made it clear that she wasn’t going to allow anyone to negatively criticize me when it came to my sexuality or anything else.
Not only did my mother embrace me, she embraced my queer group of friends as well. Fortunately, the rest of my family’s acceptance is no different from my mother’s. My sister is often more excited about attending pride than I am. My mother and my sister have both attended pride and supported my friend’s performances, even when I was unable to. Some of my family members have gone above and beyond to make my sure that my partners were comfortable at my family gatherings. It brings me great joy to know that I don’t have to hide a part of who I am and that I can actively share all parts of my life with my family. Although I know that not everyone has a beautiful coming out story, I also know that not everyone’s coming out story is horrendous.
Often we read headlines about same gender loving and transgender children being ostracized by their families. The majority of films that are made about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community are often sad and ridden with tragedy. We simply do not hear enough about the positive and affirming stories, especially within the Black community and I’m more than happy that my story is one of them.
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist, writer, photographer and filmmaker. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop and the women in it, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan or at GlennishaMorgan.com.