“The first person I told that I was marching was my father. He said to me, ‘But, Cybill, they might think you’re one.’ And I said, ‘Who cares?’”
— Cybill Shepherd, at the Gay and Lesbian March on Washington, 25 April, 1993
"We're all we've got. You and I
this war time morality
where being queer
is as warrior
as we can get."
— Cherie Moraga, Loving in the War Years
My mother does not know that I am queer. She's practically the only one. Maybe my Dad doesn't know, I haven't directly said it to him or anything, but my Dad, he would love me no matter what. But my mom, of course she'd still love me, but I don't know. It's different. Sometimes, I’m like, whatever, she doesn’t need to know. She has made it clear to me how she feels about gay people. My mother is homophobic in her own way. If anything, I think that she is merely intrigued, but afraid to admit it. Sometimes I wonder about her. But then again, I’m the queer who thinks that everyone is a little queer, a little bit gay, deep down inside. So I tend to question nearly everyone. They are insecure? Sexually frustrated? Sleep around too much with the opposite sex but don’t seem to care about them? Self-conscious? My diagnosis: poor, repressed homosexual and/or “bi-curious” individual. If only they tried getting it on with their own kind. Their flower would bloom, their wings would spread, they would see the world in an entirely different way. The world would open to anything and everything.
It is important to take into consideration that I am writing this on a good day. On my good days I just don’t care to tell my mother, because it does not seem important to me that she knows, I can keep it a secret, I am in a heterosexual relationship, etc. so that's easy, right? But those are my good days.
Far and few in between.
How long have I been wanting to tell my mother? Since the beginning. Two or three years ago. Maybe even four years ago. I wanted her to be there with me since the beginning. Those nights spent choking on tears, choking on my confusion, on my denial, those nights spent paranoid someone else was in the house, because I thought I was losing my mind, myself. When I thought I was losing myself, when I wasn't sure who I was anymore, I just wanted to call my mother. And tell her. The big elephant in the room is queer, mom. That dark shadow in the corner is gay, mom. But I couldn't bring myself to ever make that call. Where my mother was the only one who could calm me down, soothe me, rock me to sleep like a baby. I wanted her to be there from the very beginning. But I couldn't do it, I know how she feels about gays. How could I go to her for help when she would be the one rejecting me?
I thought about telling her yesterday. Yesterday was kind of a weird day. Almost a bad day, but not quite so bad. What would I say to her?
“Mom,” I rehearsed in my head. “I need you to listen to me. I am queer. (I figure I would just have to say it like that, maybe it seems to forward, but how else could I introduce it without making her too anxious? Those build-ups are awful.) It is important to me that you know this, because you are my mother, my family, and a huge influence on my life. You matter to me. And my queer identity is a huge part of who I am. So I need you to know. No, Mom, I am not a lesbian. No, Mom, I am not bisexual. I know you are confused. The way I see it, Mom, I don’t like identifying with bisexuality or lesbianism because I do not limit myself to only 2 sexes, or 2 genders. There is a rainbow of genders, Mom. Maybe there are more than 2 sexes. Bisexuality limits me to just the male/female dichotomy, the woman/man genders. No, Mom, I am not being ridiculous. Please just listen. Mom, this is not easy for me, and I know that it is not easy for you. I just wanted to tell you, so you could start thinking about it, processing it, and making yourself aware of it. I am a member of the LBGTQ community. This is a huge part of who I am. It will be a huge part on how I raise future children, when I have my own family, when I take part in a career, when I write, everything. I know that I am in a heterosexual relationship. But that doesn’t make me straight. Mom, listen. It’s okay. Don’t you want me to love whoever I want to love, whoever I can love? Don’t you want me to be with someone who loves me too? Yeah of course. So what if Mike were a woman? Mom, no, ugh, I do not try to be different. This is not a spiteful thing. How could you say that? How could you think that I would do this on purpose? How could you even think in that way? Why would I do this to spite you?
Mom, listen, I had to tell you. I am trying to stay as calm as possible. You need to become aware of it so you can educate yourself, then maybe one day change, and embrace it, not reject it. You cannot reject me, my identity. You cannot make me illegitimate. I cannot live like that. I cannot. It is important that you recognize me for who I am, as a queer, as anything. I need that to live. I need that to survive. I need it to thrive. Being queer is not just my sexuality, it is a way of life. I have multiple ways of life. Everyone does. But do you see what I am saying? I cannot be oppressed by my own mother. I want your support. I know this is very difficult for you, and I have been keeping silence, not telling you, because I have been afraid of your response, your rejection, your disappointment, your disgust. I can’t live with this silence anymore. Yes, Mom, I have been with women. Who? I am not telling you.
Mom, I need you to understand and I need you to change and make these realizations that I am asking you. I know this will not happen over night. But it must happen. Because if there cannot be progress with my own mother, how can I have hope in the world otherwise? Mom, what if I were to be with a woman one day, who I would want to marry, and adopt children with. Have a family. But mom, that would not be legal. Do you understand those political and social implications?
Okay, I am sorry, I am getting carried away. I don’t want to overload you too much at once. Let’s keep this personal, individual, me, your daughter. I am queer. I am pansexual. I do not limit myself to who I can love based on any criteria. Sex, gender, class, race, religion. That is who I am. Isn’t it beautiful, Mom? Isn’t it? Please don’t cry Mom. It will be okay. Thank you for listening."
Maybe I would say something like that. Would I tell her on a good day or a bad day? I would have to tell her on a good day. On my bad days, I get so quiet, so numb, so anxious, so paranoid. Sometimes my bad days last to weeks. On my bad days I can hardly put my thoughts to sentences. Put my feelings to words. And that's terrible, you know, fucking terrible because I am a writer and I love words and I love breaking silences. That is a part of who I am. It's a life style.
Could I really plan something like this? Or will I just blurt it out one day, at the "wrong" place, "wrong" time? Will I be able to articulate myself, express myself when I actually try to tell her? How will she react? Could she really get that upset?
I am just hoping she would listen. Listen. I am just hoping that one day soon I can break my silence.