Why I’m Still Not Out to My Parents
Originally Published: February 3, 2016
Revised: February 3, 2016
For a while, I was the type of guy who stubbornly refused to come out of the closet, even though, by early sophomore year in high school, exactly zero people thought I was heterosexual. It’s hilarious, in retrospect. I’d turn pink and flustered whenever someone asked about my sexual orientation and adamantly insist that I was not, in fact, gay—all the while hoping that the cute junior guy who had a habit of jumping on my back as a sort of hello would just ask me out already. Eventually, I came out. Coming out to my friends and the people around me was freeing; I was able to explore and love myself in a way I had never been able to.
The only problem is—I’m not technically out-out; my parents are the only two people in the known universe who don’t know. And they’re my parents; they’re supposed to be the ones who know before anyone else.
This desperate fear of losing the love and security of your parents has been the biggest struggle of coming out for me.
Parents Just Don’t Understand
Writing about this is difficult; I’m putting into words things I’ve never really wanted to verbalize because they really suck. For example, over the summer my dad would show us these corny prank videos on YouTube and whenever a prank that involved two guys kissing came on, we’d have to skip past it while my dad said things along the lines of how disgusting that was. This, of course, does wonderful things to the esteem of a gay teenager. Essentially, in my family being gay isn’t even a comprehensible idea; it goes completely against the religion and culture I grew up in. My sister couldn’t even get Doc Martens because they were considered “dyke shoes” by my parents. In my father’s eyes, being gay is the epitome of America’s moral failings. (Yeah, he’s that guy.)
So of course, my entire teenage life has been marked by lots of lying and that takes its toll when all you want to be is loved and accepted by your parents. This desperate fear of losing the love and security of your parents has been the biggest struggle of coming out for me. It’s the reason why I quietly came out in February of sophomore year and not October of eighth grade, which was when I first faced the fact that these terrifying new feelings involving boys and body parts weren’t going to go away.
Wishing I Had a Shoulder to Lean On
The worst part is, around this time, most teens have their parents to help them with their first bouts of love and hormones. I wanted so badly to have a moment with my mom about high school love, the way the teens in John Hughes movies had moments with theirs. When I had my first kiss and first heartbreak on the same night, I curled up in a ball in the elevator and sobbed because it hurt and I knew I wouldn’t have my mom to hug me and tell me that I’d find someone wonderful one day. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever have that.
Coming Out Isn’t a Choice Everyone Can Make
This is me stubbornly clinging to the closet again, but this time it’s because I know that if I tell them I’m gay, bad things will happen—and I want to be able to be at least financially stable before dropping the atomic bomb on them. And for the record, it really hurts that I have to think about my sexual orientation as an atomic bomb.
When I was a freshman, I used to obsessively read about coming out in a homophobic environment. I hoped that somewhere, deep in these stories that resonated so much with me, there would be a magic combination of words that would allow my coming out to not be the catalyst for my family’s complete implosion.
Those words, unfortunately, don’t seem to exist.
*Steven Davis is a pseudonym for a 17-year-old who lives in New Jersey.
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