Dear Mom and Dad,
I know that today is scary. I know you’re a little hurt. I know you have a million questions. I know you are worried. This day in 2015 is the day that I wrote a blog post from 9,000 miles away to tell you and everyone else in my life that I am gay.
I first need to say that I am sorry. You deserved to hear those words in person, and I hate that I did not have the courage to do that. The day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage felt like a do-or-die moment. It felt like if I didn’t write those words down then I never would. I want to be clear that I was never afraid of how you would react. I was never afraid that you would not accept me. I was never afraid that my coming-out would go poorly. I am so incredibly lucky that those thoughts never crossed my mind. I was just awkward. I knew you would have questions that I didn’t necessarily have answers to. I’ve always been a better writer than orator, and writing it down felt safer. It gave me the opportunity to get everything out all at once and in one clear way.
I know better now. I know that you both would have preferred to hear those words in person, and I took something away from you by not giving you that opportunity, for which I am incredibly sorry. However, I believe that everyone’s story is different, and everyone is entitled to tell their story in the way they feel most comfortable.
I was never concerned about how you would react, but I wasn’t ready to burden you with the worry that inevitably is already invading your minds. I knew that this news would not surprise you, but this would make you concerned about the challenges I would face. I knew that you would worry about the scrutiny I would face from friends and family. I knew you would worry about the potential hurdles ahead to navigating my last year of college as an agriculture major at a university in the Deep South. I knew you would worry and wonder about how this part of my life would affect every aspect of my life moving forward — from my career to my love life. I knew you would worry about how to talk about this, what to say, and how to support me. And finally, I knew that you would worry that I would never call Alabama home again.
I’m writing this letter because I don’t want you to worry. Things don’t just turn out OK. Things turn out pretty amazing. The next six years are challenging for sure. These years will be filled with so many significant events for our family and for me. But my coming out turns out to be the least significant of any of them. The world will change a lot between 2015 and 2021. While challenges continue to persist, the fight for equality will move into hyper-drive following the supreme court ruling. There will be pockets of resistance, namely from Roy Moore, who will be a bigger part of our lives than you could ever imagine right now, but my path forward will be mine to set and mine alone.
As a family, we will grow closer to one another than ever before. I will find love a couple of times and find heartbreak a few more along the way. We won’t talk much about that (again, I’m awkward), but I know you’ll be there every step of the way. Most importantly, I will find myself and finally start to be comfortable in my own skin. I will see myself in the LGBTQ+ community. I’ll start going to Pride, finding gay friends, and being more open with my life than ever before (not always in the ways you approve of… Lorde declared summer 2021 to be ass-out summer on Instagram, so I’m just following the rules). There will be plenty of times that I make mistakes in these next few years, but for the most part, I will be incredibly lucky to experience an open and welcoming community of people here to support me all along the way. I’ll even move back to Alabama (we’re all going to be roommates again for a while, so heads up on that one), but most importantly I’m happy. I’m really happy, and everything ends up OK.
I know today is kind of scary. I know it’s filled with a lot of worries. But everything is going to be fine, and your support today and all the days after means the world.
Carson Jones is the son of former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who won a special election in 2017. Carson is a former zookeeper and current consultant who advocates for LGBTQ+, mental health, and environmental causes.