Coming out: being able to accept, embrace, and celebrate all of who one is…a bold and scary yet freeing step (one of many) to fully live into “beingness” and loving the lived life.
These pictures … my mother and sister at a pride parade, my mother and me at a hallelujah Jesus gospel revival brunch performed by drag queens … are a testament that its not only me who comes out but my family who comes out together. My mom and sisters are coming out with me and I with them. Ten years ago, these pictures would not have taken place, my mother would have probably been throwing holy water on me and praying for my lost soul. My mother, sisters, and me, we have all grown into our “beingness” and our story today with its drama and joy is one of hope and possibility.
The journey of coming out as a family has not be an easy one…I was taken to reparative therapy to be cured, was labeled a family disgrace by my little sister, my dearly beloved was seen as the devil both figuratively and literally… the “stranger” I had become was disowned by my family. Though painful, I realized with time that my family was sorting out and wrestling with their own coming identity—“we have a queer child/sibling, what does that mean for me and for us?” I became mindful that it took me 21 years to come to a place to begin celebrating who I was and am, it may or may not take them just as long to come to a place of affirming not only me but who they are in relation to me and themselves. My journey of coming into “beingness” rippled into their journeys … their stories and experiences of life colored my story. Like the vibrations in a spider web, our interconnectedness gave support and resilience to us as a whole, what was felt by one was felt by all—the embodiment of “one for all and all for one.” Questions, doubts, fears, epiphanies, more questions: this would all be faced and wrestled with as a family. If we couldn’t, the web would collapse and we would each have to move on, forming new webs with a new community of support … a painful but sometimes necessary thing to do for surviving and thriving … something many of us within the queer communities and other marginalized communities experience, needing to form new webs of support, community, and resilience.
With bumps along the way and hairloss and eating binges and tears and hugs and acceptance and jokes and questions … our family’s ongoing coming out experience has been transformative, and its not done yet as it continues to blossom and evolve each day (and sometimes each second!). My mother who still deals with “what did I do wrong as a mother” is slowly but surely moving to a place of honoring what she did right, not only with me but with all of my sisters. She has become involved with PFLAG and is starting her own outreach to support Latino/Hispanic parents. My sisters have come to embrace my beloved as part of our dysfunctionally functional family…treating him as one the family with their uirky sense of affection that “makes-you-think-they-don’t-like-you-but-they-really-do-because-that’s-just-the-way-they-express-themselves-because-they-are-a-no-mush-type-of-person-who-don’t-express-feelings-much.”
National Coming Out Today is not only about individuals in the confines and prisons of the closet (be it about orientation, gender, or other identity that is marginalized), but also their families and loved ones who are also wrestling with those same confines and prisons. Our family’s story is one of hope and possibility; a reminder to me that family (in whatever shape or form or structure or peopling its takes for you) truly means “for all moments I love you”; for it is not about blood but a willingness to embrace how our identities mutually ripple into each other throughout life’s “messinesses” and celebrations. Blessed be!!!
PS – how my journey of coming out as a trans person is being lived out within my familia…well that’s a whole other conversation and blog in itself!!! Its taken me time to embrace my inner trans-diva, I need to give them time to understand the complexities of gender and that gender is complex. More on that to come!!!
If you are ever in the South Florida area, go to LIPS for their Gospel Brunch on Sundays … cross dressing for Christ and wearing heals for His holiness truly is a revival in many many many ways .
A resource that engages a family’s coming out journey is the Family Acceptance Project