How not to come out

I came out to my parents via a poorly worded and astoundingly unprofessional email that I may or may not have ended with the phrase “peace out.” I do not know what I was thinking, if I am being completely honest. I knew my parents would be supportive of me no matter my sexuality, and I knew they would do everything they could to make me feel comfortable. With that being said, I still do not know why I chose to email them, much less why I chose to email them while they were literally sitting in the next room.

But there was something inside me that did not want to utter the words, “I’m gay.” It was as if I did not have the bravery or mental fortitude to admit it to myself, let alone to them. But I did it. I sent the email. I remember sending the email and waiting for a reply. Not five minutes passed before I got a reply. Here is the exact transcript of the email I received from my mother: “Are you fucking kidding me? This is how you tell us something like this? You have some nerve. This is just bullshit. You need to actually talk to us. It’s not like we give a shit at all about the substance. You cannot possibly think this is acceptable via email.”

They specified that it was not the fact that I was gay that was the problem, but that the method of communication was severely inappropriate for the occasion. After I got this email, I heard my mom call me into her room. She yelled my name in a voice so stern that I legitimately considered feigning death to avoid confrontation. But I did not. I meekly shuffled into her room to bear the beatings of a thousand men.

I do not remember her reprimanding me. I blocked this so far from my mind that my own death feels like more of an authentic memory than this experience does. But the message came through undeniably clear: do not come out to your parents via email, especially if you happen to be under the same roof at the time, literally.

The reality is that my overall quality of communication with my parents has always been a free-flowing channel, and for me to suddenly give them information in the way that I did was not only surprising, but incredibly upsetting for them as well.

My parents trusted me to relay information to them in a respectful and mature way. When I reverted to an impersonal, convoluted and frankly tactless method of communication, I was damming that channel that I had worked so hard to keep clear for so many years. I know coming out is a difficult thing to do for many people, especially due to conservative upbringings and unaccepting families. I know that coming out should be obsolete, and that the reason why coming out is such a big deal is a result of the overwhelmingly heteronormative rhetoric we as a society are saturated in. But that does not make coming out any less necessary at this point in time.

It does take time, and it is challenging, but coming out, even through email like I did, was something that facilitated the lines of communication that I forged with my parents and my family and friends. Being able to communicate, even poorly, the content of your character is vital in the steps toward living a wholesome and unapologetic life.

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