Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Coming Out, Part 2
The mood was instantly serious and the room went deathly quiet as I handed two thick white envelopes to each of my parents. Watching them remove and unfold the stapled papers and start reading was perhaps even more difficult than giving them the letter in the first place. This was it. They were about to know everything about me.
The rustling of the papers as they read was torturous noise as I sat in the silent room and watched. I analyzed their faces as they read. Having worked so hard composing that letter, I knew the three magic words "I am gay" were about halfway down the first page. I expected some reaction, an exclamation or outbust of tears when they read those words. But each of them read through turning the page without reaction, just the same look of stoic concern on their faces.
I was taken a bit off guard at this. I had expected some reaction, not simply no reaction. Though I had asked them to read the letter all the way through before commenting, I didn't actually expect that to happen! In my life, I prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I had faith in my parents' reactions, but I was ready to make a quick getaway if I needed to. The waiting for a reaction was gnawing at my insides.
Then my mom did something I had not prepared for at all: she giggled.
Hearing that sound completely threw me off. How was I supposed to react to that? Did she really just make that sound? I hadn't even considered that reaction beforehand as a possibility so I didn't prepare for it. I was befuddled.
What did she find humorous in this serious matter? Was she laughing because she didn't know how to react? Was it a nervous laugh? Didn't she realize how serious this moment was?
I broke the silence and somewhat accusingly asked, "What?" being unable to calm my mind.
"Oh, I just read where you wrote that living in New York didn't make you gay. I know that. I just thought it was a little funny," she replied.
I smiled out of exasperation as the tension lifted. I didn't respond. I couldn't respond. The silence continued and she kept on reading.
In that instant, in comparison to the angst and torture I had put myself through the whole week of the family reunion and my whole life before that, I experienced the first inking of a feeling I had not expected but yearned for so deeply: hope.
That was the first sentence my mom ever said about me being gay, and she said it with a smile.