Coming Out Stories: News for my Parents
Today’s Coming Out Story is a reader submission from Trevor MacDonald. Trevor MacDonald lives in Winnipeg, Canada, with his partner, baby, and dog. He is currently a stay-at-home dad and has an honours BA in political science from the University of British Columbia. While remaining secure in his identity as a gay man, he breastfeeds his baby boy because of the zillions of studies that prove that breastfeeding is a healthy, biologically normal choice for babies. He writes about his queer breastfeeding adventures on his blog at http://www.milkjunkies.net/.
The hardest thing I've ever done is come out to my parents. Four times. I've always known that I felt different from most other people, but for a long time I couldn't describe exactly how. As a teenager, I felt incredibly frustrated by my parents' assumption that I would some day be in a heterosexual relationship. I was born female, and I sometimes felt attracted to men, but I sure wasn't straight.
I had to tell my folks something. I couldn't stand it anymore – the implicit suggestions, the queries, the looks. But what would I tell them? I decided, even though it didn't feel quite right, that I would say I was lesbian. This was at least far closer to how I felt than "straight" was.
The longer I waited though the harder it got. I started to say things to myself like, “Oh, I can’t tell Mom now, she has to go shopping. Tomorrow won’t be any good either – I think she’s planning to do a load of laundry. Maybe next week sometime?”
When you're coming out, you want the reaction to your news to be good. So, you need to wait for the perfect moment. But the only way to do it is quickly like you’re diving into a glacial lake. You know it’ll be better once your body adjusts but the first bit is pure pain. And you definitely can’t go in one inch at a time.
Eventually I managed to do it, in person, and they reacted surprisingly well. A friend of mine even planned a "coming out" party for me at my folks' house, for which my Dad barbecued.
Finally, a few years later, living on my own and supporting myself financially, I was able to admit to myself what was really going on. I am transgender. This meant coming out to my parents, take two.
I tried telling them over the phone and failed to do it enough times that I got permanently stuck. I had to write them a message, and I had to get friends to proofread it. I pretty much needed somebody else to click the send button to fire off the email. Then I got my brother to call my parents and tell them to check their messages. I sat in my apartment, a three hour plane trip away, nervously waiting for them to call me.
This time the news was hard for them to take. My Mom asked me why I would want to "mutilate" my body by transitioning, and my Dad laughed at me, thinking the whole idea was unrealistic. Once they saw me transition, however, and saw how much happier I became as a result, they changed their minds. They tried hard to remember to use the correct pronouns and spoke respectfully of my choices.
Enter the love of my life, Ian, and the need to come out to my parents for a third time, now as a gay transgender man. This time I just let them figure it out on their own, rather than telling them formally in any way. Ian and I moved in together, and visited my parents together. We got married, and my parents both flew out to attend our wedding.
What more could there possibly be to tell after this, I hear you wondering. Well, we decided to have a family. I went off my hormones and became pregnant. And this, too, felt like a sort of coming out. We were nervous about explaining everything to our families. I told my parents, over the phone, about how we talked to my endocrinologist. I explained the ways in which my body would change, and the ways that it would stay the same, during the pregnancy. After their initial surprise as well as questions about the medical safety of our plan, they were delighted. They were going to have another grandchild, their first one to live on the same continent as themselves. Hopefully after all this my parents aren't conditioned to nearly have a heart attack every time they open an email from me or see my name on call display. It took me a while to get myself sorted out, and I am relieved that they were eventually able to adjust to every change.
Coming Out Stories are semi-regular features posted on Tuesday mornings. If you would like to submit your story to be considered for this feature, please see the submission guidelines.