“YES, MOM, I’M GAY.” The Truth That Was A Long Time Coming

“YES, MOM, I’M GAY.” The Truth That Was A Long Time Coming

“My son, are you a gay?”

That was the question I both expected and didn’t see coming from my Mother.

In the recent past, whenever people asked me the question: “What about your parents, do you think they know about you?” I always responded with: “To some extent, I believe they know.”

This response is especially true for my Mother. It is a common belief in the LGBT community that the parents always know; that they don’t confront their children about it means they are simply in denial. And this belief is usually based on the whimsical notion about parental instincts never been off about the children; we believe that if a parent has birthed you and cared for you, his or her instincts about you as a child is going to be rarely off. And so, if you are different, on some level, your mother or father will know.

But when it comes to my Mother, the ‘knowing’ is based on more concretion than that. For one, she is a friend on my social media profiles, a space where I am the most vocal about my LGBT activism. When it comes to the social media, I am so frank with my pro-gay views that some friends believe I am basically out. And my Mother is an active member of the social media, and so, every time I make yet another post denigrating homophobia or championing LGBT sensitivity, I lean back and wait, wondering if that would be the day I would get the call asking me: “My son, these things you are posting… I don’t know… Are you gay?”

Secondly, my Mother lives in the States, and usually acts as the medium through which I can purchase books from Amazon and have them sent to me. She’s an avid reader herself and oftentimes delays the sending of my books so she can get to read them herself. And so, when I began purchasing LGBT books like Caitlyn Jenner’s The Secrets of My Life, I imagined she’d be checking them out and wondering: What is my son doing buying books like this?

And so when the friend who knows my Mother is on my Facebook friend list sees some update I’ve posted and comes to my inbox to ask with awe: “Are you this open because your mother knows? Does she know you’re gay?” I respond with: “To some extent, I believe she knows.”

But that reality, the one where the truth crystallized between my Mother and I, never became a thing until very recently.

Something finally forced the conversation. I don’t know what or who, but it finally happened.

It started with a thanksgiving service my Mother was a part of on a Sunday, pictures of the event which she posted on Facebook. Among these photos she took was one with her brother (my uncle) and his family. My uncle has four grown children in their twenties, two daughters and then two sons. They were all in this picture, these children I hadn’t seen for so long since they left Nigeria about 20 years ago. But looking at the pictures, I could identify which child was which, grown as they were.

I could identify which child had become which adult – all of them except the second daughter. For the purpose of this story, I’ll call her Lizzie. Even though I could see seven people in the picture (my Mother, my uncle, his wife and their four children), even though I could spot the eldest daughter and the boys, the person who was supposed to be Lizzie, well, didn’t look like Lizzie.

For one, she was not at all feminine-presenting like her sister. Her sister was wearing a dress which draped down her long, lithe figure the way her hair tumbled down to her shoulders. The young woman in the picture who was supposed to be Lizzie had her hair cropped short and was wearing a long-sleeved shirt tucked inside denim trousers. Heck, she looked more masculine than her brothers. I did a double take when I saw the first picture, not sure it was her. Then as I checked out other pictures where she was closer to the camera, I could see her features clearly. It was indeed Lizzie presenting as a masculine female. And as I observed her, I wondered what she identified as: lesbian, gender non-conforming or transgender. Whichever one, I felt a rush of pleasure as I liked all the pictures with her in it.

This happened on a Monday.

On the following Wednesday, my Mother called.

“So, nna, you didn’t say let you call me to find out how my thanksgiving went,” she said after we’d exchanged greetings.

I apologized, assuring her that I was going to, except I’d been swamped with work.

She said ok. Then she said, “So I saw that you liked my pictures on Facebook.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Did you recognize your cousins?”

I said yes.

“When last did you speak to Lydia?” (Lydia is my uncle’s eldest daughter; of course, not her real name)

“Ah! A very, very long time ago o,” I said. “I think it was during one of Uncle’s visits to Nigeria about 10 years ago.”

“What about Lizzie, when last did you speak to her?”

“Not since they left Nigeria, I haven’t.”

“OK.” She waited a beat, during which time I was wondering where she was going with this. And then she hit me with it. “Did you know that Lizzie is a lesbian?”

I was at work when she called and had been conversing with her to the backdrop of a staff room filled with coworkers who were all focused on their work stations. It wasn’t a quiet room, but the atmosphere was subdued enough that I knew this was no longer a conversation to have in there. So I got up from my seat and began to move outside where I could get as much privacy for this conversation as I could manage in a workplace environment.

Because I was on the move and hadn’t replied yet, my Mother called my name with an edge this time and repeated her question. “Did you know Lizzie is a lesbian?”

“No. I didn’t.” I had gotten outside now. “How would I know? I don’t have a relationship with Uncle’s children.”

“Hmmm.” She waited another beat. This time, I was waiting for her. Then she said, “I’m just going to throw it at you without beating about the bush. My son, are you a gay?”

I actually chuckled. My first reaction was to the “a gay” and I found the grammatical error so oddly amusing, coming from my Mother, that I laughed.

“Inachim ochi?” she snapped. “I asked if you are a gay?”

“Yes, mum, I am gay,” I said, finally stepping out of the closet.

There was dead silence on the line. The kind of silence that made me wonder if I’d had it wrong all this time: all this time I thought she knew more than she was letting on. All this time that I ordered LGBT books from Amazon and had her send to me, books I thought she checked out before sending to me. All this time I’d been bold about my LGBT stance in my updates on Facebook where she’s in my friend list and happened to frequent my timeline. All this time that she had never once bothered to pressure me on the issue of getting married… All this time… Could it be she honestly didn’t know?

Or was the silence coming from the shock of having what she feared confirmed from the horse’s mouth?

Then she broke the silence with another question: “Why?”

“Why?” I repeated.

“Yes. Why?”

The question irritated me into responding, “You know Lizzie is a lesbian. Did you ask her why when you found out?”

“This is not about Lizzie,” she snapped. “This is about you and what you have done to me. I am devastated. You have devastated me.”

My irritation snapped back to sardonic humour and I chuckled again. “You are devastated?” She was honestly going to make this about her?

“Yes! How can you do this?! After everything…! I mean, there had been whispers. People told me things, but I chose not to believe them. I said to myself it can’t be true. My son cannot do that kind of thing. I gave birth to a man –”

“How does me being gay make me no longer a man?” I cut in, feeling the stirrings of renewed annoyance.

But she was on a roll, steamrolling past my question with her venting. “They were telling me… There were whispers… They said this kind of thing can take away one’s blessings… Are you hearing what I’m saying to you! You have to stop this thing if you don’t want to damage your blessings. You have to stop this!”

“I don’t have to stop anything,” I said.

“Don’t you care what people will think, what they are saying about you – because they are talking…”

Growing up as an introverted child who was often more invested in his own little world, I never cared much for outside opinion. Maturing into the adulthood of understanding just how different I was and how misunderstood my identity as a gay person was by my environment, and knowing the delicacy of my personality because of my depressive tendencies, made me solidify my determination to not matter to me the opinion of anyone who seeks not to build me up.

And so, nothing galls me more than when those in my life expect me to care what people think or are saying.

Hearing my Mother say these words to me like they were supposed to count for something in my decision to live my life as a gay man triggered me.

“Mummy, I have told you many times before, as long as these people are faceless to me, even when I know who they are, I don’t care what they are saying,” I snapped.

But she carried on. She wouldn’t stop. I didn’t know if her rage was driven by her pain or the embarrassment this reality was going to cause her. And with every biting word she said to me through the phone, I could feel myself getting emotionally drained. She wasn’t letting me get any word in edgewise. And it got to an extent, I didn’t even want to. I didn’t want to explain myself. I didn’t want to cajole her. I simply didn’t want to talk.

And I didn’t want to have to listen to her tirade.

So I said, “Mummy, please I’m at work. I have to get back to what I was doing.”

She became quiet, the cold kind of quiet. Then she said, “We are going to talk about this some more. You may go back to your work but I’m going to call you again to talk about this. Meantime, I’m going to talk to your father.”

“Fine. Do whatever you want,” I said tiredly, and then hung up.

As I walked back inside, I didn’t know what to feel: relief that my truth was finally out in the open, dread that there appeared to be an upcoming storm, or weariness over the fact that my coming out may come at a cost.

Written by Pink Panther

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34 Comments

  1. sammybhaws
    September 17, 06:14 Reply

    reason why i am not coming out till all the older generations in my family are dead. I cannot stand the question and answers and Oputa panel they will call. I even thought the mother would be enlightened and well versed about sexuality,and she was making it about her! They never ask the person how he/she is feeling, but no let them(parents/family) make it about themselves. I hate it when they guilt you with their cries and wailing!!!

  2. Francis
    September 17, 06:51 Reply

    She knew but was just living in denial praying it wasn’t true. I hope my parents are not in this boat sha. I don’t have strength to be explaining shit to anyone. They have smartphones and can Google it. This is why I dodge being vulnerable………. So situations like this when they eventually happen won’t get me down.

    Best wishes man. Hopefully it ends well for all parties involved. The next few years might be rough for them as they come to terms with having a gay son. Na their turn to “suffer”

    She should just do and call her brother to find out how he’s coping with his daughter.

  3. Peaches
    September 17, 10:38 Reply

    It is good to have come out to her. It is brave too. And I draw strength from your story to trash that pending question and let all out. Welcome PP.

  4. Kenny
    September 17, 12:13 Reply

    Pinky, you will be fine.

  5. Black Dynasty
    September 17, 12:21 Reply

    It might be a long road ahead but….. this too shall pass.

  6. Net
    September 17, 13:35 Reply

    Wow finally.. I’m so proud of you

  7. Yazz Soltana
    September 17, 14:22 Reply

    You’re sha not depending on them for livelihood again

  8. Vina
    September 17, 14:33 Reply

    Awww!! Finally!!!

    Coming out is so emotionally draining and never easy but the truth is, they will learn to deal with.

    Sending e-hugs to you. You will be fine.

  9. Law
    September 17, 15:51 Reply

    Hey PP, you will get through this, u don’t owe them an explanation because this older ones can never understand. So just do u. U will be fine

  10. Ben
    September 17, 16:41 Reply

    You’re not alone Pinky.. u’ll be fine trust me..#BeStrong

  11. Sleek Creamy
    September 17, 16:55 Reply

    Abeggi! Is she not aware that it runs in the family?
    With all the posts she sees on facebook from ur wall, mbok let her let sleeping dog have a good slumber …
    Why she no ask ur cousin for abroad? If that one no go report her ,but she get mind dey ask u in Nigeria all the way from oversea.
    Dude please unfriend all her friends who are your on facebook, cuz those ones are the main alarmist. After that, then u can cool off with a bottle of an expensive wine.
    Trust me u will be fine.

  12. Mac
    September 17, 18:05 Reply

    It is a very tough one. I identify as Bisexual but would never come out to anyone, not even my girlfriend. I am convinced many might be bothering themselves about what I do in my closet but do I truly care? I have worked hard to build myself and depend only on God to guide me through so why should I care about those who do not even contribute to my existence?
    I believe parents know from childhood but being Nigerians, they choose to fight their fears and insecurity on the matter and expect the society to force us into conforming with its beliefs.

  13. Richiemichie
    September 17, 20:07 Reply

    Pinky that have a glass closet, it’s hard to believe she didn’t know , maybe just in denial.

    Since pinky is out mesef should follow 🏃🏃🏃

  14. Wahid
    September 17, 20:28 Reply

    Take a deep breath…. Now breathe out. See! U r still alive pinky!! U are a warrior! U r stronger than u think.

    Let me let u in on a secret; every storm last but for a while n after that, it’s SUNSHINE baby!!! So get ur bikini set cos u gonna love being u.

    Lots of love

  15. The Promiséd one
    September 17, 23:17 Reply

    This just reminds me of the episodes that happened at home, when my mum confronted me on this issue, for 2 full days we didn’t speak to each other.

  16. Dan
    September 17, 23:58 Reply

    My coming out will be very supportive because I got almost everyone’s secrets in my family. If you wish to make it hard on me. You’re in hot soup.

    • sammybhaws
      September 18, 00:04 Reply

      Oshey Raymond Reddington… baddest man ever liveth!!

    • Francis
      September 20, 10:56 Reply

      Drag all draggble into the light 😂😂😂😂

  17. Patrick
    September 18, 03:09 Reply

    Congratulations, PP
    Your coming out was an inevitability!

  18. Kaytee
    September 18, 09:05 Reply

    You just have to give her time and remain as open as a book…. Present but emotionally disconnected….

  19. Tim
    September 18, 10:14 Reply

    It’s kinda tough, every time n now, whenever one discloses his or her sexuality before his or her loved ones..
    The look in their face as if you are a criminal or something worse than that…
    But anyways I’m very happy for u
    I think u have shown to them what a real man you have turned out to be…
    Keep it going my dear

  20. Limitless
    September 18, 10:18 Reply

    Wow! This is so touching and a really brave thing to do. I admire your courage to be “you” from the onset. In fact, you just unconsciously encouraged me to be prepared for what’s gonna come soon.
    Your story just left me with some questions “Am I really ready to come out?” And “What time is the right time to come out?”

  21. KS
    September 18, 14:10 Reply

    hello…
    first time.. i just could not read alone this time.
    hear these words…— you will never have to relive that moment.
    its done. you are out and proud
    i will draw strength from your story. you are indeed BRAVE and unique
    One day i will share with your what your write up have saved me from..

    • Pink Panther
      September 18, 15:42 Reply

      This is humbling. Thank you, KS. And it is my hope that you are inspired to live the best you can.

  22. King Mufasa
    September 19, 03:07 Reply

    You’ll be fine 🤗
    And if not … please speak up, difficult but essential ❤️

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