Photo by Julieta Salgado
What surprised you the most about coming out?
"Deep down, I was convinced that when I came out, I would lose my momma’s love. Once, when I was 15, we were watching Oprah, and Cher and Chaz Bono were on, but, like, this was when Chaz still identified as Chastity and was coming out as a lesbian. And my mom was like, 'If you ever come out to me as a lesbian, I won’t be having that in my house.' And so I was shaken to death coming out. I had a friend, who worked in the financial aid department of my college, ready to help me fill out grants and financial aid forms if my folks cut me off after coming out. I had friends at the ready with lodging, food, and even a getaway car should my folks end their relationship with me. I just didn’t know what to expect.
Then, outta nowhere, my beautiful, Christian, Puerto Rican momma told me that her love was something I could never lose because my existence was a gift from God and that love came from a place beyond her and within her. She loved me before I was even born. But, don’t think for a second that my mom was cool with the gay thing, because she wasn’t at all. It took her mad time to get used to it, to learn with me, and to evolve politically alongside me. But her love for me was the thing that kept her going and I pulled my mom into my community. I made her meet my queer friends and my radical friends and my lovers, and she just started loving on everyone. Now her biggest concern is when I’m gonna find me a down-ass, queer, brown wife and hatch her some grandbabies. I guess I was just surprised that moms can evolve too and that not all hope is lost when they don’t understand everything the instant you come out. Like, shit, at least, my mom deserved some space to deal, grow, and bloom.
Gabby Rivera, writer, youth mentor, and editor of QTPOC content for Autostraddle.com