You, Your Family, And “Coming Out” As Something
One of the most frequent discussions that I see among the sex blogging community on Twitter is, “What if my parents find out?” “Do I choose to ‘come out’ to my family and friends?” I also see this fairly often in the kink and poly communities, where I find many people lamenting that they have a “vanilla life” and a very small “kinky (or poly) life,” and never the twain shall meet.
Yesterday, Blacksilk posted something along those lines, examining how she manages the sexy aspect of her life differently around two different family members. This got me reflecting on a few times when I ‘came out’ to my parents about different things, and I’ve been blessed with two very accepting people who have simply opted to laugh with me along the way about most things. I’m thankful for that every day.
I’ve always lived in a house where I was pretty sure my parents knew everything, even if they didn’t actually know everything. For starters, Momma Sugarcunt tells Poppa Sugarcunt just about everything that I tell her, even though there was a reason I didn’t tell him.
Case in point: My dad IMed me on Facebook and asked if I was coming to a family event a few hours away, because my grandfather would like to see me. My extended family is extremely conservative in every sense of the word, and I have always been the black sheep because [I didn’t grow up there/share no common interests with them/dye my hair/am the most socially-liberal and thusly generally politically liberal person they know/fill in the blank]. (I also just un-friended the entirety of them on Facebook, because they have never contributed anything positive to my wall or messages, just as they have never contributed anything to my life except food, judgment, criticism, and awkward reunions where I inevitably go sit alone. So after one of my cousins decided to argue with me about equal rights for marriage, then ignored the analysis of scripture that I handed him after he took an accusatory and dismissive tone and asked if I had read the Bible, I was done.)
Since I last saw my grandfather, I had acquired all of my current piercings: Tongue, eyebrow, nipples, and clitoral hood. I replied and said, “I’m not sure he’ll be as happy to see me when he sees my tongue and eyebrow.”
My dad shot back, “He’ll get over it, just don’t tell him about the other ones.”
I was, momentarily, baffled. While I told my mother about my genital piercings, I didn’t tell Dad. Because my dad doesn’t really want to know, and I didn’t really want him to know! There are plenty of parents who would rather not know about their child’s genital piercings. He said my mom told him. Thanks, Mom. I’ve kind of come to accept that if I tell my mother something, she will tell my father at some point, regardless of what her intentions may be.
So obviously, I’ve got a pretty open relationship with my parents, and have conditioned them to be immune to shock and awe. If anything, I think my dad is probably most astonished if we go somewhere and I -don’t- embarrass him by being openly inappropriate.
For the most part, when there’s something that most people would hesitate to tell their parents, I don’t sit down with my parents and have “a talk.” I never want to make “a thing” out of it. I don’t really feel like I should have to explain it. It just is. It’s a fact about me, part of my identity. It all comes out in passing.
If you’re hoping for stories with drama, conflict, and resolution, these are not the stories you are looking for.
How I Came Out As Queer (Sexuality):
I was pretty much positive that I was queer from around the time I was 10 or 11. I never dated many people in high school, so I never had any girlfriends or transgender partners to bring home. I long-distance dated two girls in middle school and high school… but it never came up because it was long distance. Hell, I met a dude when I was 15 and held on to him until I was 20. So my chance to act upon my sexuality didn’t really come until I became a part of my college’s GSM community and met a beautiful lesbian. We dated, and while that relationship had some setbacks, we remained roommates until I quit school and moved out of the dorms in March. At some point in the first month of our relationship, I was at a doctor’s office with my mother and mentioned in passing that I was dating her. My mother raised an eyebrow, then she shrugged, and that was pretty much the end of it. Both of my parents had already met her. Mom inevitably told Dad because she was pretty sure he wouldn’t care. I carried on and never spoke to him about my relationship proper, but constantly made jokes about administering cunnilingus. (And usually didn’t realize that I’d done it until someone pointed out that I said it in front of my father.)
After my relationship with my roommate ended, the transgender woman that had been coming home with me very apparently became my sexual partner. We both stayed with my family many times, and were openly affectionate. We slept in the same bed in my parents’ house. I was constantly covered in bruises from necking with her. We chastely kissed in front of them. I bought her panties once or twice when my mom and I went shopping together. Most people thought we were officially an item. (We weren’t. She wouldn’t date me. After we had sex a few times, she told me she loved me, and I guess that was as a friend. First she said she had feelings for me, but was confused because “she’d never been this close to someone before.” Then her excuse was solely that she was confused. Then she needed to be single to pursue her identity [that was true]. Then she didn’t feel “like that” about me. I spent a lot of time snuggling, fucking, and mothering her when I wanted to smack her.)
Then I dated some cisgender men again and my sexuality has really never come up since.
How I Came Out As Queer (Gender):
I can’t explain it well. My parents won’t get it because I don’t get it.
At this point, I’ve gone from being at a happy medium where I understand my feelings to a point where there are days that I can’t stand my biological sex. Porn makes me feel… strange (and I think it’s because of my vagina), and my vagina feels wrong sometimes. Or it makes me feel ashamed sometimes (but not all the time). My initial desire from high school onward was that ideally I’d have both sets of genitals, fully-formed, with sensation. We can’t always get what we want. Now, I don’t know if I’d rather have a penis instead of a vagina. Genitals and gender identity aren’t always interdependent on one another, but when something starts feeling wrong about my genitals on an instinctual level, especially when I think about mutilating my genitals or what it would be like if they weren’t there, it leads me to question whether I’m right with my genitals, and whether my fluid identity is really appropriate or not.
I haven’t made an effort to hide my gender identity from my parents, and I don’t really have a pronoun preference. There has been absolutely no reason to bring it up. I can’t solidify anything. I don’t even know how I feel, so I can’t rightfully tell them how I feel.
How I Came Out As Kinky:
I’m pretty sure they figured this out from all the times I mentioned or joked about it in passing. And then later, because I would rage about BDSM portrayed in popular culture… and correct the assumptions.
How I Came Out As A Sex Blogger:
My mom actually fronted me the cash to set up my first year of hosting, so I told her straightaway that I wanted to start a sex blog, and talked about affiliate programs and reviewing toys, etc. She wasn’t shocked or appalled, because that’s how my mother is – she certainly knows more about the fact that I’m sexual than my dad does, because while he’s aware, we don’t talk about it. Neither of us wants to. And that’s cool with me. But I wasn’t going to tell him about my blogging.
About a month after I started reviewing things, I was staying with my parents in the interim between summer and fall semesters. I set my desktop up at a desk in the living room, which was pretty much the only space available to me.
I got my first review toys from Babeland and Goodvibes during this time, and I was so excited when they came that I showed my mom, then lined them up on the desk so I could take a photo.
This photo, actually:
I didn’t realize how close it was to 5:30 until my dad walked in the door and I heard him in the kitchen. I had a giant dildo, a butt plug, and a vibrator sitting on his desk. If he walked in the room at that very moment, we would have been living in a sitcom and I would have been surrounded by 15 more dildos. (Those were upstairs in a box.) Instead of that happening, I swept the toys into the box they arrived in and hoped he wouldn’t notice when he walked in the room. And then he walked into the room and looked at me (I think I was blushing. I don’t blush easily), then looked at the TV, then looked back at me.
Now is the time to give you just a tiiiiny bit of background info that is pertinent to what happened next. I do not like leaving my home. I do not like going shopping. We don’t even have local stores that carry anything that I want or need other than groceries. I do like shopping on the internet, and have a wide variety of hobbies (making jewelry, knitting, collecting cephalopod items and geeky t-shirts… also sex toys) that the internet caters to pretty damn well. So when I got my first debit card, I proceeded to use it when I had money to purchase these things. Because of my purchases of beads (handmade focals, small bags of gorgeous beads from de-stashes on Etsy, massive quantities of things from sites for jewelers and beaders), I had a LOT of packages, but I wasn’t necessarily spending a LOT of money. I was living with my parents until I finished getting my AA at a community college. It got to a point where they were very displeased every time I got a package.
“Stop ordering things!”
SO. With that background info in mind, wait for it.
Dad said, “…What’s this?”
My rectum clenched and I started acting accordingly. “IT WAS FREE. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”
He was asking what was on television. Not what was in the box. “…but now that you’ve called my attention to it…”
My mother decided to come downstairs and be helpful by saying, “What’s the matter, you don’t want to show your dad your big, black dick?”
“She’s too embarrassed.”
So then I had something to prove, so I grumbled, “No I’m not!” and yanked the Rippler (the big dick that isn’t black – she misinterpreted the color. It does come in a sleek black, though!) out of the box. I waved it in his face and said, “LOOK, it’s harness-compatible! That means I can fuck somebody in the ass!”
And that was the end of that.
My parents don’t read my blog. Although my mom said, at one point, that she’d like to look at it, but that’s because she’s being encouraging and I am perfectly OK with the fact that she isn’t badgering me for the address.
Anyway, it got to the point where I didn’t even put my dildos away when my parents visited me… and still wouldn’t, if they did.
When I Came Out As Mentally Ill:
I’m truly grateful for my parents. I really am. They have never denounced or disowned me. My dad even told his brother to fuck off when he was harping on my hair at a family event. (My uncle bitched about my hair every time he saw it, so my dad was understandably as sick of hearing it as I was.) My mother has told me that she’s proud of me for standing up for my beliefs and speaking my mind. My sister is 15, and is growing up to be an open, honest, thinking individual. My brother isn’t a bad kid, either. I have the most incredible family.
The only thing I would tweak about my parents is their view on my mental health, because they don’t understand my mental illnesses. I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar II and a general non-specified anxiety disorder, because I just don’t quite meet the DSM criteria for Social Phobia. If you (my dad) have never suffered from depression and think that most mental health professionals are quacks and assholes (because you worked with some of them… like my dad did), then you (Dad) don’t understand why someone sleeps 18 hours a day, avoids family and friends, and literally can’t get out of bed or leave the house sometimes. Especially if you’ve seen that same person act “normal” (because they’re in a safe and comfortable environment, like their parents’ house), or better still, bouncy, vibrant, and vivacious (because they’re having a hypomanic day). When that person doesn’t want to go to school every day (high school and community college), stops going to classes (despite previous enthusiasm about them), and spends most of their time in bed, it looks like laziness or a lack of priorities.
It’s easy to tell someone to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” when you haven’t felt that way and don’t have an intimate understanding or acceptance of mental health. It’s easy to tell someone “you’re only as depressed as you want to be!” (Mom. After I told her my therapist was recommending medication. After our house burned down.) if your low points aren’t so bad that suicide looks like the only option you have to “fix yourself.”
These attitudes haven’t been very good for me. They aren’t good for my sister, who is depressed and has panic attacks when fire alarms go off. They aren’t good for my brother, who could use some anger management and coping skills. I started exhibiting symptoms of depression (and I knew that) in middle school. I was also surrounded by peers who liked to fabricate mental illnesses (no, I am not misjudging them or trying to undermine them. Factually and diagnostically, they didn’t have them) and parents who talked about the “attention-seeking stunts” of their coworkers’ children. I had a score in the highest range of a depression inventory when I took Health my freshman year of high school. I did my senior project on depression, and my mentor (a school counselor) said, “Have you addressed the fact that you have a lot of these symptoms?” Teachers overlooked my writing, my attitude, my behavior, and the fact that I slept in every one of their classes, probably because I performed well academically. I never asked to see a therapist because I wanted to be left alone, and I continually told myself that I was just being a stupid teenager.
I am my own advocate for my mental health. My mother seems like she’s becoming more receptive to at least hearing me talk about it. But honestly, if it’s just my mental health that my parents aren’t convinced about, then I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t trade them. Because for the most part, they accept who I am. I’ve had friends whose parents have denied it, accepted it but pretended it doesn’t exist, disowned them, insulted them, and tried to convert them. I am privileged in comparison. I never really felt like I was “coming out” to them when I told them about any of this, because I was blessed with a family that didn’t make me feel like I had to hide it.
Has anyone else been this fortunate? Have you come out to your peers and family? How did you do it, and how well did it work out?