Coming Out to Parents
BY Dr. Jallen Rix
June 30 2010 9:00 AM ET
The evening finally culminated in the harshest statement she has ever said to me: “This is worse than when your sister died.” I couldn’t believe she said it. To try and deflect some of the utter rejection I, as usual, denied it and tried to justify it away in my mind with excuses, like, “Oh, she’s just upset. She really doesn’t mean that. She’s trying to manipulate me into changing, etc....” But it had hurt me so deeply that my survival instinct finally kicked in. That statement quite honestly sounded emotionally life-threatening. I called the conversation “over” and said that we needed to take a break and get some sleep since it was already late into the night. It was the first time that I did not feel at home in the very house I grew up in, and that only heaped on more feelings of rejection.
Fortunately, I had friends in town, a gay couple whom I called and basically said, “I’ve come out to my parents. I cannot stay here tonight. I’m coming over right now” — without so much as a chance for them to respond. When I set foot in their house these two muscle-bound lumberjack men enveloped me into their arms. I was in such shock that the two of them insisted I sleep between them, safe and warm where nothing evil could reach me. God bless them.
The next morning when I returned, not surprisingly, Mom and Dad hadn’t slept much. As I have previously stated, I give my family credit for being tenacious in their creativity and curiosity. Yet the dark side of this characteristic is what I like to call “scab-scratching.” If there’s something that isn’t quite perfect, we just can’t leave it alone. And so it was with my sexuality.
Something that took me by surprise was that Dad was going to call his pastor to cancel my concert. “We can’t knowingly allow a homosexual to get up in front of our church.” Youch! That was a harsh blow and further diminished whatever bit of confidence I thought my parents had in me. Somehow I felt like a coward to leave it up to my father to make the call, so by the end of Saturday I called the pastor and cancelled the concert without giving any reason except that it was an emergency and it couldn’t be avoided. I felt that I had come so close to doing something special for my church family, and now, not only was I forced to bail on them at the last minute, but the humiliation around the whole situation was so potent that I almost never set foot in that sanctuary again, aside for a funeral or two. “Never a hero in your own home town.” I hate it when clichés are truly spot on. Yet a friend comforted me by saying, “Jesus had that problem too, ya’ know.”