A couple weekends ago I came out as bisexual to my mother. My weekly-Mass-attending, very-involved-in-her-Catholic-parish mother. Why? Because it seemed like the time. All my friends knew, my sister knew, and anyone I met knew if it happened to come up. It wasn’t a secret to me. Additionally, I had submitted a piece centering around my bisexuality to a literary magazine. If I felt comfortable sharing this part of myself with potentially the entire world, how could I keep it from my own mother? What had for the past two years seemed like an “oh, it has never come up” ambivalence was morphing into an actively held secret lurking behind every corner of our weekly conversations. When the blue/black or white/gold dress phenomenon exploded all over the internet, I caught myself before joking that, “I probably see it both ways because I go both ways.” I would feel a twinge of guilt whenever she would talk about our “honest” relationship and express how glad she was that we would talk frankly with each other. I didn’t post any pictures of going to my first Pride for fear she would see them. Enough was enough.
I began the planning. I live almost 600 miles from my parents, so seeing them involves a 10 hour drive or a plane trip. I had already decided it was going to be an in person conversation so that a button could not end the potential awkwardness. I would face this head on. My youngest sister’s graduation was coming up, and my ticket was already bought and time off already planned to spend five days there. Now for recon. I called my youngest sister to assess any recent stances on sexuality. It wasn’t until 2 minutes into telling her my plan that I realized she had no clue what I was talking about, because I’d only come out to my other sister. Whoops. She was surprisingly nonplussed, reminded me that the Pope was “okay with it”, and even offered to bring up Caitlyn Jenner to my mom and gauge her reaction. Her repeated comforts of, “It’s fine, Mom will still love you” and “it’s not going to be a big deal” didn’t do much to calm my rising nerves. She was 17, what did she know?
Upon my arrival, I found it hard to get my mother alone. My grandparents, two aunts, uncle and two-year-old cousin were also visiting for the graduation, and the house was already crowded with us four kids and parents. I finally managed to snag her after a night of wine-drinking and general frivolity had caused everyone else to go to bed. I saw my moment as we put away the wine glasses.
I started with the literary zine I had written a piece to, and how I was excited to be writing and possibly becoming published. Her face lit up, but became tempered with concern as I, on the verge of wine and emotion fueled tears, sputtered out that the publication focused on a part of myself we hadn’t spoken about before. There was a silence as I mustered up the nerve. The possibilities flashed in my head. She could cry and spew gospel at me. She could look at me like a stranger. She could renounce me as her daughter. This could be the moment when it all changes. I stared down at the floor between our toes. The comforting swirls and scratches of the wood floor was easier to confront than her searching eyes.
I blinked and felt a tear roll down my cheek. I wouldn’t be ashamed. I lifted my gaze to stare at the cabinets to the right of her head.
“Oh, that’s it? I thought it was going to be bad news.”
Relief flash flooded over me.
She moved her head to meet my eyes, placed her hands on my cheeks, and continued. “Do you really think something like that could make me love you less?”
“I don’t know. It’s not very Catholic of me.”
“Hey, Pope Francis is okay with it! Besides, you’re my daughter and I will love you no matter what.” She was giving me a hard, serious look. I always thought women were more fluid and prone to experimenting anyway. But wait, back to the ‘might be published’ thing! Meg, that’s huge!” She hugged me exuberantly. “I’m so proud of you!”
Basically, my coming out to my mom turned into the “not a big deal” kind of coming out. But truthfully, I feel like I have been “out” for over two years now. My dating profiles and posting history on different forums would easily reveal this information, and saying, “I’m bi” feels natural to me and life-affirming, like I am taking on bi erasure one tiny step at at time. But with telling my mom, I truly feel like I am not hiding myself from anyone. Sure, I haven’t explicitly sat down my brother, dad, and extended family and explicitly told each and every person I’ve ever known, but knowing my family matriarch is on my side makes all of that just not seem like a big deal. I can just be me and know my fierce, protective, stubborn, self-assured, loving mom will be on my side. And I know I have picked up a lot of those traits from her.
That’s why I want to keep this as a blog rather than a traditional diary. Sort of a shrugging off of the last vestiges of the closet. Not hiding anything. I have some ideas already of stories I want to get on paper (so to speak) about figuring out my sexuality and the ups and down of being bisexual. I know that some other people out there may also have had similar feelings or might be just starting out in their questioning. If they find their way here, I can hope they take comfort in knowing someone else went through the same thing and that there’s not just the black and white of hetero and homosexual.