All About My Mother: A black man not on the DL tries to come out to his mother

Coming out is an intimate confession. I’ve come out to myself, my friends, and to complete strangers the first time meeting them, but not to my mother. I keep conversations with my mother about work and food. The last time my mother asked if I was dating was seven years ago. I was in college. I had a canned spiel ready. I’m waiting till I finish school I said. I don’t know if she believed me or not. Read Psalm 23 before you go to bed she said. I finished college, went on to grad school and got a job. In between finishing college and getting a job, I had one boyfriend, five pseudo-boyfriends, three Web romances and a number of unremarkable dates. My mother knows nothing about any of them. Our relationship is more like co-workers than mother and son. Four of my friends have come out to their mothers. They talk openly about their dating drama with their mothers. Imagining my mother and I talking about how difficult it is to find a guy I want to date, I cringe. That sounds too personal. I visited my mother recently. We live in the same city but I rarely go see her. She asked if I was gay without directly asking. She proceeded to read Bible scriptures to me and ended with “but I still love no matter what.” I looked her, looked at the ground, and across the room at the blank TV screen. I saw the picture of me as a baby on top of the TV. I played dumb. She changed the topic. Now when I get the courage to call my mother, my heartbeat will speed up when she pauses abruptly or starts a question with “Tell me. Tell me, ‘Are you gay?,’” I think she’s going to say. I can’t imagine telling my mother I’m gay. Even though I know she knows. Mother, I’m gay. It sounds so simple written. Mother I’m gay. I could write “I’m gay, Mom,” in a Hallmark card and mail it to her. Most likely, it’ll come out through an argument, on a holiday or a birthday—the way my true feelings come out with my mother.

Yates, Victor. “All About My Mother: A black man not on the dl tries to come out to his mother.” Windy City Times, June 25, 2008, Pride Literary Supplement.

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