This is not a heartwarming story. Well at least not at first.
I came out to my mother about 14 years ago, in the late 1990s. By that time, almost everyone I cared about already knew I was gay. I was 19 years old.
Uttering those words to my mother was tougher than you can ever imagine. It took a very long time. There were tears. Some blame. One very long hug.
For 10 years.
It was as if I had never even told her.
And then, one day, she makes a bad comment about my boyfriend. I let it pass. It bothers me. Starts to eat me up. Why, after 10 years of not even acknowledging our conversation, did she decide to make that one hurtful comment?
Back to square one.
I walk into my mom’s room. Tell her I have to talk to her.
Here we go again.
If it was hard the first time around, it was painful the second time. It was deeper, more affirming, more brutal.
There was no hugging this time. No tears either.
I couldn’t understand. She was mad for some reason.
For 10 years, she had built up resentment, until it exploded with that one comment.
My initial reaction was anger. Resentment? What the fuck for? I yelled and yelled.
And then it hit me.
I realized that, for 10 years, my mother had been asking herself a million questions, had a million fears for her son, and she had been left alone to deal with all of these things, not really able to communicate with me about this part of my life, not able to talk to anyone else about it either.
Suddenly, I realized how hard it was for a parent in this country, in this society to deal with the coming out of a child. No one to talk to. No support from anyone. It became a secret she had to carry with her and deal with on her own.
I calmed down.
I took the phone and called her best friend. I came out to her over the phone, and then told her to please come over, because my mother had many things she needed to talk to someone with.
I left the house and didn’t come home that night. I wanted to give my mom her space.
The next morning, her best friend called me.
“Thank you Raja, for trusting me, and for giving your mother someone to talk to about this. She loves you more than you know, and so do I. All she really needed was someone to talk to.”
I need to remind myself more frequently that my mother is only human.