Auntie SparkNotes: My Parents Won't Let Me Come Out
Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
So, my mom was cleaning my room (even though it wasn't actually clean afterwards), when she "accidentally" found my diary (at the bottom of a drawer that she didn't need to open), and it fell open (cough, cough) and she then proceeded to "accidentally" read it, finding out that I am gay. Pretty bad, yes?
She told my dad without asking me, and they both, while holding back tears for my fate, told me the following:
-I am not really a lesbian ("You dress like a girl, after all")
-That I will start liking boys soon
-That I can no longer hang out alone with girls
-That I have no right to be mad about them reading my diary
-And here's the kicker: I am not allowed to tell anyone else about this because then I would have to go through the process of realizing that, SURPRISE, I've actually liked boys all this time and then I would have to go through the process of telling people that, "Oops, ya'all. I just made that whole thing up."
And apparently, even if I am a lesbian that they just want this to stay in the family and in the friends that I have in my adult life. They say it's to protect me in high school, but I honestly think that they don’t want their friends at church to know (pretty much their only friends), since they were very outspoken against the ELCA fully accepting gay staff members and stuff. I don't think they even want to deal with it: this happened last week and they haven't even acknowledged it since, except for my mom saying how this week was just "the worst week of her life."
Here is what I want to know: Is there any way for me to convince my parents that it's not a phase, and that I could actually have a very happy and fulfilling life with a girl? How can I bring up everything that has happened so I can set some better privacy boundaries, since my mom sees nothing wrong with what she did? How can I get them to butt out of my life (I was actually out to my fabulous best friend before I took a faceplant through the closet doorway, and now I'm worried they might punish me even though I eventually want to tell more people)? And on a last petty note, my parents haven't acknowledged that my being pulled out of the closet has affected anyone but themselves, and I mean, WHAT IS UP WITH THAT GUYS? Am I being ridiculous?
Ridiculous? Um, no. You, Sparkler, are being the opposite of ridiculous. Your parents, on the other hand... well, let's just say that your description of their reaction made me so angry that I blacked out, lost time, and the next thing I knew, I was running down the street with a salmon in my hand, beating random passers-by about the head and neck, and yelling, "SOMEONE WILL PAY FOR THIS TREACHERY!"
And in all seriousness, the level of dishonesty and denial on display here is really and truly upsetting. Your parents' suggestion that this is all to protect you and keep you from embarrassing yourself is a bunch of horse biscuits; there's a clear beneficiary of the arrangement they've cooked up, and it's definitely not you. In fact, between their frantic rush to contain the truth and your mom's characterization of this whole situation as "the worst week of her life," it sounds like they've been far too focused on how your orientation might affect them to consider your feelings at all.
And I hope, for their sake, that one day you'll be able to forgive them for it.
The good news is, you don't have to convince your folks that you're not just going through a phase. They might wish that you believed that, but they don't; they made that much clear when they forbid you from being alone with girls (an odd thing to say to a kid who's going to start liking boys any day now, no?) and then demanded that you stay closeted in your hometown not just for now, but forever. Trust me, they know you're gay. They just don't want anyone else to know.
The bad news is, I can't really tell you where to go from here; I can only tell you that your parents are in the wrong, that your anger is valid, and that your orientation is yours to disclose whether someone else finds it embarrassing or not... and that I wouldn't blame you if, after this, you decided to exit the closet by riding down the street in front of their church on a unicorn, wearing a spangled unitard, singing, "I'm Coming Out!" through a megaphone. (And I admit, I do wonder what would happen if you simply pulled the rug out from under their plan and took back control by coming out to everyone… or maybe it's enough just to know that you could, that the success of their effort here ultimately depends upon your cooperation. You have the power to stop this anytime you want, darling. Remember that, because it's important.)
But at this point, knowing that your parents see your identity as something to be hidden—and your privacy as something to be freely and unapologetically violated—it may be best if you back-burner this conversation until they can't punish you for being who you are, just as so many other gay kids delay coming out until they can do so safely. One day, you'll be able to tell them how it hurt to be treated like a dirty secret to be swept under the rug — and on that day, I hope like hell that your parents will realize how disgusting it was to deny and diminish you the way they did. I'll keep my fingers crossed. But until then, you're not alone. You have your friends. You have your (new, online, password-protected, unimpregnable-by-"accident") journal. You have us. And you have your voice, which you can and should use to come out to a few people you can trust to support you.
Good luck, Sparkler. We're rooting for you.
Got any words of support for our Sparkler? Leave 'em in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.