I Came Out to My Mom Last Week And It Changed My Life – Stacia Datskovska
There were twenty minutes left before I had to leave for work, and I decided to call my mom. Ever since I moved to New York City to start attending NYU, daily calls and texts became our ritual: a way to offer small, seemingly meaningless updates on the goings-on in our lives and hear each other’s voices. That day, though, the updates on my part weren’t so meaningless.
I’d recently started seeing a guy, and my time with him– as well as my feelings for him– were quite rocky. I described to my mom the unsatisfying date we had the night before and how I was left wanting more. She chastised me for sticking around this long and trying to find “the better” in someone who might never be capable of giving me that. I was tired and confused and suddenly lonely. I broke down to her over the phone: my body shaking with each sob, the mascara I put on before work paving two squiggly streaks across my cheeks.
In breathless sentences, I told my mom there was so much more I could share but felt scared to open up about– fearing her judgment and that very particular tone moms often have. Something between compassion and sternness, disappointment and resignation. I said I’d write down my thoughts and send them to her since, as a journalist, it was easier for me to process information in this format. Besides, I didn’t want to witness her immediate reaction.
And so I opened a blank Google Doc and put into words the three biggest truths of my life. The one I saved for the last paragraph was about me being bisexual. I forwarded the document to her email and prayed for the best, turning off my phone for the next six hours of my shift. It turned out hitting “send” was the easy part; the waiting is what killed me.
My mom promised to take time to think everything over and come through with a response no less than love and total acceptance. Still, when I finally opened my text messages and saw what she wrote to me, I couldn’t contain tears of joy and relief, “Nothing changes, you are still you, and I am still me. Everything will be okay”. Of course, there was also a series of red hearts at the end. My heart felt close to exploding. This was likely the biggest day of my life. I exhaled for what felt like the first time in months.
My attraction to women– a feeling I’ve long harbored, but that was fully new information to my mom– has not yet been discussed directly between us. In our over-the-phone conversations after my coming out, the issue is handily skirted around. I’m sure we’ll eventually find a shared vocabulary for this topic that will normalize the truth in my mom’s mind and make me more comfortable with owning it from now on. Still, her text is enough for now.
I have patience because I know it’s unrealistic to expect an overly positive and casual reaction from conservative family members right off the bat. Even opening up to my parents on arguably much less identity-driven issues, like my depression, was an unpredictable (and ongoing) feat.
I can only assume that my mom is actively coming to terms with her own preconceived notions and prejudices about queerness: redefining them to accommodate her daughter’s recent revelation or beginning the process of throwing them out the window completely.
I’m excited to soon have a bigger conversation with her on the topic– one which will hopefully make both of us less quick to judge, less quick to assume, and more open-minded about everything else in our lives. I hope this conversation brings my mom and me closer, and I’m infinitely grateful for the fact my coming out didn’t disrupt our already-established closeness, me being her only child. I’m glad she took my side when there were so many other ways to respond to the news.
That being said, I know I’m one of the lucky ones. Too many LGBTQ+ individuals who come out to their loved ones live with the fear of being cut off, the pain of being misunderstood and the realization they might never have a chance at a bigger conversation. The raw sadness of noticing, after the big announcement, those closest to them starting to turn away instead of providing support through this highly emotional time.
I haven’t yet come out to everyone in my life, and I know each time I do will not be a one-size-fits-all experience. But, I have already come out to the most important person in my life: a person who, despite growing up in a society where queerness was equated with a polluted mind and immorality, was able to embrace this side of her child and continue to offer motherly care, even if touching upon this recent development directly is too scary for her at this time.
Coming out to my mom didn’t necessarily teach me anything about myself that I didn’t already know. I was fully aware of this part of me during high school. Instead, it showed me what unconditional love looks like: A love that I hope extends, in whatever form, to everyone who’s preparing to take this step in affirming and celebrating their own identity.
If you enjoyed reading this coming out story, check out another one of our coming out tales here.