“I came home to find my mom sitting at the kitchen table with a 'mom' look on her face, when i asked how her day was i was terrified and taken back when she said "you're not a lesbian" because my worst fear had finally come true and i had no clue how she knew. I sat there tears rolling down my face as she told me that god didn't make me this way and it was just a phase, i ran up to my room and to find not one but all my journals on my desk just open. I don't know what to do or how to bring it up.”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Hey there, friend.
I am so, so sorry this happened to you. As a lifelong journaler myself, I get a pit in my stomach thinking about your privacy being violated in this way. Journals can be such important spaces for us to explore our feelings, to document our thoughts, and to find clarity about who we are and who we want to be. I am angry at your mom on your behalf for not only disregarding your privacy in such a personal way, but then using that information to hurt you even further.
It’s ok for you to be angry, too.
I really encourage you to not bury your feelings about this horrible situation, but rather to do whatever you have to do to bring them into the light of day. Do you need to sit on your floor and scream and cry so the whole neighborhood hears? Girl, I’ve been there. Do you need to put on your heaviest shoes and stomp around the block? Onlookers may wonder what cool new sport you’re training for, but feeling your feet hit the hard earth may help ground you in the present rather than reliving that “mom” look over and over again in your head. Take your time working through these emotions, and allow each one to come and go as they do. Doing any of these things will help these feelings work their way through your system until, eventually, you feel strong enough to tackle the next phase of this horrible mess your mom created.
Here’s the truth: your mom doesn’t know shit about who you are. It’s true. Parents like to think they know everything there is to know about the humans they created, but what they forget is that they created autonomous humans who lead their own lives and have their own thoughts and are allowed to have a secret or two. Your mom cannot tell you who you are. You know who you are, at any given moment, better than anyone else ever will. And who you are, at any given moment, is exactly who you should be.
There were quite a few years in my life when my greatest hope was to passively coexist with my queerness. I thought if I could get to a place where I wasn’t beating myself up for it everyday, that that would be good enough for me. Now, I say with 100% certainty that I love my queerness, without a single apology or condition. Being queer has taught me so much and brought so much joy, knowledge, reflection, understanding, and fierceness into my life that I would never want to be anything else. My greatest hope for you is that you get to this place as well. Know that you have a worldwide LGBTQ community here to lift you up and be your family every step of your journey.
Now, what should you say to your mom? I think you have some options and should do whatever you feel most comfortable and safe doing while taking care of your own wellbeing first and foremost. Humans have an enormous capacity for change if they’re willing to open themselves up to new truths, and I happen to know many parents who did just that and are now incredible advocates for the LGBTQ community. This may be the case for your mom, too. But even if it isn’t, and whether that process unfolds over a week or a decade, it doesn’t mean your mom is right, or, more importantly, that you’re wrong. It means that she is a human who is flawed and has her own histories that she’s wrestling with, and isn’t able to be the mother that you deserve right now. Nothing more.
If you’re comfortable, you can encourage your mom to visit My Kid Is Gay, our site that gives advice and support to parents like her who are struggling to understand their kid’s LGBTQIA identity. We even have a whole section dedicated to discussing religion, which seems to be a major sticking point for your mom. Here are some pieces that might be a good starting point:
- 10 Things Christian Parents Can Do When Their Kid Has Just Come Out
- Defining: Gay
- Eight Great Gospel Selections for LGBTQ People and Their Families
- Reconciling Your Love for Your Child with Your Religion
- Dear Devout Christian
- On Religion
- Is It a Phase?
Additionally, you can sign your mom up for Coming Out with Care, our e-care package for parents whose kids have recently come out, and set a copy of This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids (with a whole chapter about religion!) on her nightstand. Both are incredible resources for parents in her exact position.
Confronting a parent—or any adult, for that matter—about how they have hurt us can be an incredibly daunting task. It may feel enticing to never mention the journal reading or the resulting encounter ever again. However, I really encourage you to think about what it would be like to confront your mom about how she hurt you. Writing her a letter detailing how you feel is no less valid than having a conversation face-to-face. Addressing what happened and making your voice heard can be incredibly healing, which is exactly what you deserve. Healing.
However you decide to approach your mom about this, I hope you do so standing firmly in the truth that you know you, and no one gets to tell you that who you are is not who you should be. I also hope that you listen to this mixtape, which I made to encourage you to put your middle fingers to the sky and say to the world, “Fuck you, I know who I am.”
Grace lives in Portland, Oregon and drinks a lot of coffee as a result. She works as the Senior Managing Editor of My Kid Is Gay, a site that provides advice and support to parents of LGBTQIA young people. She enjoys Vitamin D (in the form of sunshine, please), podcasts, intersectional feminism, and talking to people about their life goals. Follow her on Twitter @gracemanger
Cover Art designed by the incredible Isabella Rotman!