Coming out to Mom was one of the scariest moments of my life. I’d tried for years to tell her, but just couldn’t do it. Every holiday I’d say to myself, “This is the Christmas…I’m telling her. I’m definitely doing it this time. I’ll just say it, then give her a new car. She can’t possibly hate me then!”
Then I’d get too scared, Christmas would pass, and I’d be like, “Valentine’s Day! It’s perfect! I’ll definitely tell her then. I can say ‘Guess what? I’m gay. You still have to love me. Mr. Valentine said so!’” Then Valentine’s Day would come and go, with me chickening out. Again.
After several years of this (years!), Windy – my accomplice and support system during the whole coming out ordeal – started getting frustrated, because I brought her into my holiday routine. And we’d go through hours of, “Should I tell her? Should I not tell her? Should I tell her? Should I not tell her?”
And let me tell you, I could come up with the lamest excuses to keep silent:
“They didn’t have those shoes in Mom’s size and I think she’s pretty depressed about it. This wouldn’t be a good time.”
“Mom wasn’t able to get her Wal-Mart fix today, so I don’t want to set her off with unexpected news.”
“Mom’s out of Splenda! Her life is already ruined!”
Any excuse was fair game.
The cycle continued until we arrived at Thanksgiving, 2007. Throughout that weekend, the debate cycle started up again. “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” However, it was getting harder and harder to come up with good excuses. Also, I was exhausted from always hiding half my life from Mom. And Windy was exhausted from having to talk with me about it. A lot.
To make matters worse (or better), we had a two hour drive to take me back to the airport in Flagstaff. What could be a better opportunity to tell her?
So after tons of mental anguish and a lot of back and forth, Windy and I decided that was the time. I was going to come out to Mom. EEK!
The drive to Flagstaff started off fairly routinely. We chit chatted about various trivial things until we got settled in on the highway. I admit I brought up all kinds of random topics, hoping we’d get sucked into one for the remainder of the drive.
However, after only about 15 minutes, the conversation tapered off and there was a sudden, chill silence in the car. It was time! Sensing the moment, my insides knotted up. I felt like I had eaten a big bowl of rotten Thai curry. M palms started sweating, and I began doing my little nervous ticks (which consisted of my legs bouncing nonstop and my head bobbing back and forth).
After a few nervous minutes, I told myself, “This has to stop.” Then, fighting back tears, I took a deep breath, opened my mouth and said:
Nothing. I said absolutely nothing.
I opened my mouth again but nothing would come out. I tried again.
I couldn’t do it! I just couldn’t do it. My mind had blanked and I was in a small state of panic. The speech I had practiced for hours was no more than raspy barks and moos.
Five minutes later, I arrived at that point in my mind where I knew I was going to put it off, when Windy started giving me that look, the eyes-wide “Come on!” look. I immediately volleyed back an “I can’t!” puppy dog face. She expertly returned a “DO IT!” look. That garnered a “NOOO!” look back from me.
We were in the middle of this visual tennis match, when suddenly Windy blurts:
“Mom, Cody has something he needs to tell you.”
BITCH! I gave Windy the biggest dear in the headlights look as my stomach dropped through her Trailblazer seat. EEK! There was no going back now!
Now that I had no choice I started talking. Stuttering and blabbing was more like it. I was trying to find the words and debating on what to say in my half-blank mind when Mom calmly said “Cody, you’re my son. I love you. You can tell me anything.”
I’ll never forget those words. It was like she already knew what was coming. Hearing that gave me a tiny bit of resolve, so I was able to ground myself and begin my much-rehearsed speech.
I started by telling her that she had probably noticed that Windy and I had gotten much closer in recent years. And that I was really able to share my life with her and that it made us much better friends. And Mom agreed with this and knew how close we were.
I then proceeded to tell Mom that I would love to be that close with her and that I felt like she was missing out on a big part of my life and that it was causing some distance between us. And I didn’t want that distance anymore.
I followed that up by telling her that the big news could either give us that closeness or it could drive us apart and the decision was up to her.
After getting all this out and hearing a response back from her that she wants me to be able to share anything with her, I finally blurted out:
One pause. Two pauses. Three pauses. Actually, I’m being dramatic as the end result was completely, one thousand percent, anti-climactic. Without much hesitation, Mom said “Why wouldn’t you think I’d love you if I knew? You’re my little lamb and I love you just as much now as I did before. I wish you would have told me sooner.”
I was floored! I’m still floored to this day. I honestly had no idea what to expect. Of course my brain prepared me for the worst possible reaction. But there was that little part of me that felt she’d be OK with it. I love that little part of me. She said the exact words I needed to hear.
After that, the words started flowing. I got to tell her about how hard it was growing up gay in a small town. I got to tell her how it made and destroyed friendships. I got to tell her how it strengthened me and made me tough and I focused on school rather than sex. And I got to tell her how much it meant to me to have her there accepting me (I honestly wish I did that more).
The rest of the drive was centered around this topic (how could it not be?). I’ll skip the rest of the details. But I do want to point out one thing that makes me laugh today. When I was talking about how hard it can be, she said:
“This must have been an extremely heavy cross for you to carry. I think this made you more like Jesus in that you took a burden and made the most out of it.”
So, basically, being gay makes you more like Jesus. LOL!
On Thanksgiving 2007, my extremely Catholic mother showed what the love for her child meant. She didn’t judge me. She didn’t try to change me. She just loved me. And I will never forget it.