How The Parents Learned

At the end of April, you wrote me this:

“Please get a hair cut and take that nail polish off, I gave birth to a boy six pounds five ounces on November 27, 1987 and it was the most glorious day of our life. We love you and went thru a lot to educate you and try our very best, best, best to love you and cherish and supported you in all of your accomplishments.  We are extremely proud of you but we cannot accept this thing that you are going thru now.  Please dont let Yeyo see you with painted nails and long hair, hes 86 years old let him remember the way you were when you left to Canada.”


That hurt.

Six months later, it still hurts.  It would still hurt even if you hadn’t brought it up every few weeks since then.  It would still hurt even if you didn’t invoke the specter of saddening Yeyo most of those times.  It would still hurt even if you hadn’t shouted at me about how I should just go ahead and start wearing dresses and makeup, if I was going to do absurd things like grow my hair or paint my nails.  It would have hurt even if I thought you were keeping this knowledge away from Dad out of trying to protect me, instead of out of shame.  And it still hurts.

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How The Parents Learned

So Yesterday was National Coming Out Day

So it’s National Coming Out Day.

I’m not gay. I occasionally contemplate sexual encounters that, if I’m honest about them, pull me a little back from the far end of the Kinsey scale, but not far enough that I’m comfortable calling myself bisexual. Finding out that someone I’m attracted to is trans* would not change my attraction to them, so I suppose I could also call myself pansexual to a degree. That’s nothing compared to the statements so many of my friends have made today. Hopefully it’s small enough that the family members I have who have tried to encourage my gay relatives into reparative therapy think better of starting that fight with me.

But if it’s permissible here to extend the “coming out” concept to my own experiences, then I’ve spent a lot of my life coming out.

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So Yesterday was National Coming Out Day

Out into the Light

None of us are “out.”  To a one, we all have secrets, aspects of ourselves we might like to share but which, for our own reasons, we do not.  There are blog posts I won’t write because their very premise would say too much about me.  “Atheist” is far from the most marginalized category to which I belong.
Yet “out” I am, as an atheist at least.  I told the story of how I came from my Catholic upbringing to my current aggressive antitheism in three installments, but it doesn’t spend much time on how my friends and family came to understand it, or not.
I had no concept of atheism as such when I came to the realization that deities were imaginary.  I was a precocious fourth-grader, and I was too excited at the prospect of having solved a big tricky puzzle to even contemplate the perks of not having to go to Sunday school anymore.  My brother faced my epiphany with confusion, offering no hint that he understood it; he may not even remember the conversation.  The friend I shared it with shouted at me as a blasphemer, a reaction I found at least as incomprehensible.  And my parents?  They were no different, and I can’t blame them.  I hadn’t finished forming those thoughts before their magnitude compelled me to air them, and they weren’t impressed, nor were they permissive.  They tried to convince me I was wrong, but they didn’t know what they were arguing against, and I couldn’t have told them yet.  The lesson I learned was altogether different: keep it a secret.  They didn’t change my opinion even a little, but they taught me that all-important lesson of being an American atheist in an immigrant family: keep secrets.  I had found and peeked out the closet door, and shut it firmly.

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Out into the Light