Dear Mama

“When I was young me and my mama had beef

Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets”

I decided to come out to my mom when I was 17. It was one of the most gut wrenching and heart pounding experiences of my life occasionally intruded with a good bit of “should I really do this” contemplations. For most my life, I was raised in a single parent household and being the youngest of two and the only girl, I had the usual “best friend/attached at the hip” relationship with my mother. She would always dress me in those lace socks with those itchy dresses and put hair bows all over my head after not being shy to faithfully use the hot comb like I was her personal Barbie doll, and by the time I was in middle school she really couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like majority of the feminine clothes she bought me. For years, up until the day I decided to tell her, our relationship had turned from glitz and glamor to nonstop everyday arguments and thoughts about running away. I knew I wasn’t who she wanted me to be - or at least who she thought I was - and I definitely didn’t want to disappoint her, but I had to say something…for my own sanity and maybe even our relationship.

I started by asking her about her day at work because if she didn’t have a good one, I was surely going to wait until another day, but it ended up being a great one and I realized that a part of me was let down because I was actually hoping for an easy way out. Even in that moment, it took me a second to build up the courage to say anything else but when I finally told her, she was quiet. When she finally responded, she questioned it as if she did something wrong and told me she couldn’t see herself coming to my wedding in the future knowing that she’d rather be watching me walk down to aisle in a dress. She ultimately told me she needed time to process it and has since reneged on her wedding statement, but she did make sure I knew that she loved me regardless because I was her child. I wasn’t kicked out nor abandoned and my mom is totally for my sexuality now, but that’s a lot more than I can say for a good bit of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

“Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place”

Your mom is supposed to be your #1 fan. If you can’t depend on anyone else, you should always be able to count on her. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone. They may have a mom that is extremely religious, a mom that never wants their child to be gay because they don’t understand the concept behind it, a mom that talks bad about gay people in front of them without knowing their true orientation, or an old-fashioned mom who stands behind the decisions of their husband because they don’t want to lose their own marriage for supporting their child. All these factors play a big role in a person’s willingness to come out because there’s nothing that can top the fear of the instant change of being a part of a family to be treated like you don’t exist. You can get another mom-like figure who will take you in and support you, but she’ll never replace your mom or fill the void you have from losing her even when she’s still alive. 

 

“I wish I could take the pain away”

No one chooses to be gay to risk losing their family - especially their mom - or even their own lives. It’s just not logically a pain you would willingly subject yourself to and you would never imagine that you would cause another person enough pain to exclude you for being honest with yourself. The worst thing you can do as a parent is to not love and support your kid because it’s so many people that are going to be against them because of their sexuality. Although you may not understand, invest in your child’s ability to love themselves and be true to who they are. It’s not always because they can’t find someone of the opposite sex, the opposite sex has mistreated them or the fact that they have been physically abused. Respect your child for being their own person and loving themselves and not for what you’d wish they’d be. Sexual orientation doesn’t make them any less of the child you raised nor does it produce a loss of character. So, let this serve as a letter to assure you that your child never meant to hurt you.

 

**Lyrics from Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama”