The conversation about birth control seems to be flowing through media outlets quite heavily. BUST, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, and even ABC News have all discussed the accessibility of intrauterine devices (IUDs) in the United States, as well as the health concerns associated with them, and the controversial question of whether or not IUDs cause abortions (this is a ridiculous accusation, by the way! They don’t. Do your research, former U.S. representative, Bob Beauprez *cough cough*).
Loud headlines typically rest above these articles. It’s a pretty ubiquitous topic that definitely deserves attention.
However, in my case, the whole IUD conversation was just a smooth segue that led to my gay revelation.
Below is a short recap (verbatim) of a monumental conversation with my mother:
“Remember when you went with me to get my IUD removed?”
“Well, the reason I got it out is because I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant because I haven’t been dating men [insert painfully long pause here] I’ve been dating women.”
Hmm, you may be asking yourself, why would a lesbian need an IUD in the first place?
I grew up in Texas, in a small town where most people are as open-minded as Nancy Grace. My homosexual desires remained latent until my last year at The University of Texas at Austin. Up until that point (and for a brief time after), I occasionally dated men, and made the conscious decision to use this particular contraceptive.
My mother, Lucy, was raised in the same hometown. Despite growing up in a place populated by narrow-minded Southerners, she possessed a seemingly liberal way of thinking. Still, I faced immeasurable difficulty coming out to her. I presume I may have developed stress ulcers just thinking about this moment. Okay, there isn’t medical documentation proving I developed any physical ailments, but coming out was one of the most anxiety-ridden tasks I’ve dealt with.
I had several opportunities to tell my mother I was gay, none of which involved the mention of my IUD. Here are a few examples of how my coming out story could’ve played out:
1) I could’ve revealed my sexual identity after my mother expressed how much she loved Ellen. She proclaimed her adoration for this gay icon countless times during my last visit home, perhaps in an effort to subliminally tell me she knew.
“Ah, you know mom, Ellen isn’t the only lesbian you adore. I’m gay too!”
2) After she and I had a heartfelt discussion that entailed her disclosing personal secrets. It was a beautiful bonding experience.
“Mom, I love you. You’ve shared such private details about your life and now I’m going to tell you one of my secrets…I’m gay.”
3) After she enthusiastically told me the first gay marriage in my hometown was between two women.
“Cool! I’m glad you had such a positive reaction to this, mom! If I fell in love and wanted to get married I’d finally be able to. Because gay marriage is now legal, and I’m gay.”
Unfortunately, mmmmmmm, I had a strong inclination she already knew (C’mon, nobody loves Ellen that much!), but she never attempted to unearth the truth.
Until one evening when I was casually listening to music and she was tangled in paperwork, completing some mundane task in her home office.
“Cut and Run” by the indie group, Electrelane, began to play. The repetitive line from the song, “Say it, say it now,” has hauntingly beautiful qualities. In that moment, the lyrics were no longer attached to this heartbreak tune. Magically, they transcended and became words of encouragement.
Call it mother’s intuition. Lucy knew I was ready to fight the reluctance to come out.
But, the lamp on her desk shined abnormally bright. The blazing bulb illuminated my discomfort. I looked up. My eyes met the trophies, plaques, and award ribbons I received in high school. Countless times I’d asked her to remove this trivial evidence of such small achievements. I’ve always been uncomfortable and slightly annoyed with this display, but my mother and father always marveled at it.
Now, here I was, twenty-four years old and still afraid to disappoint them. I asked myself — if I reveal my sexual preference, will this small part of who I am somehow eclipse everything they once loved about me?
I looked into my mother’s gentle and curious green eyes.
She finally urged, “What is it? You can talk to me. I’m all ears, literally.” She’s always been teased for having big ears, and tried to add levity to the situation by using self-deprecating humor. It worked. I chuckled, appreciative of the comfort the joke provided.
“Ok. Well…” The sentence trailed off into silence. I felt the weight of the two small words “I’m gay” pressing down on my tongue. They rested there, immobile. I was unable to lift them, incapable of saying the truth.
My eyes darted upward toward the trophies that now appeared to be mocking me. “Fuck it,” I thought.
“Remember when you went with me to get my IUD removed?”
“Well, the reason I got it out is because I don’t have to worry about having kids. Because I haven’t been dating men. I’ve been dating women.”
She quickly confirmed that she speculated this. Lucy responded with acceptance and minimal judgment. At one point she questioned if my “newfound gayness” was “just a phase.”
When she finally said, “It’s okay that you’re gay,” I realized these were the words I was waiting to hear.
Awkwardness still lingers between us. Especially when I mention anything about my love life or ex-girlfriends. In time, I believe the discomfort will fade out.
The point is, coming out shouldn’t be so fucking hard. There will be a time when the act of “coming out” will be obsolete because people won’t be so attached to the antiquated notion that romantic love exists solely between man and woman.
Until that time comes, I wish my queer friends the best of luck when sharing the truth with their families. Do it. Fight the fear. Even if you have to commence with something as odd as, “Hey, remember when you went with me to get my IUD removed?”
Image: Flickr/Liz Henry
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