I remember, in my teenage years, how petrified I was of coming out. I thought my mother would pass out, die of a heart attack or throw a harmful object at me. I rehearsed different ways of telling her that would cushion the blow. They all ended in visions of spilt blood. Hers or mine. The fear was often intertwined with pain and the pressure that offspring was expected of me in the not so distant years. I would watch her intently when there was a scene with two men making love on TV. She’d flinch. My soul would suffocate and I’d drown in sadness and despair. One day she said, “If that were my son…” I’ve never been able to remember what followed because my heart beat so loud that the thud blocked me ears and made my soul weigh a ton in my chest. I felt like an alien growing up. Like a space ship had left me behind and would come back to take me to those who understood my purpose.
It’s 20 years later and I look back at myself in that living room and I whisper to teenage me and say, “Breathe more. Love more. Be compassionate with yourself. There’s room for you to blossom. You will learn that love takes many forms. And you’ll find ones that’ll fit like a glove.”
Mother and I have a fulfilling relationship. But it’s taken work and compassion from both of us. When I think of her, #BlackGirlMagic comes to mind. She’s worked through so much to find the space in her heart that has cared less about what the world thinks about her gay son.
Coming out isn’t easy. Don’t pressure people that aren’t ready to come out. They have their own journeys to walk. Respect that.
Frank Malaba 2017