Every Pride season I think back to when I first came out to my mother. I was out to my friends and a few family members that were my age, and that was it. This experience was nothing like I expected it to be.
I was 13 years old. It was a day like any other. I went to school, came home, did homework and chilled on the porch for most of the evening. After a long day and dinner I decided to join my mother in the living room and watch TV. We didn't do much talking while we watched TV unless we were debating what program to watch.
Flipping through the channels, my mother stopped on a game show called "To Tell the Truth." This game show was really well known at that time and had lots of comedy. Filled with mystery, the audience would hear a very interesting story and three panelists would have the chance to ask specific questions to the three players. Two of the players hear that same story, and the third player would be the person from the story -- each would answer the questions as if they were the real character. The questions will help the panelist figure out which of the players is telling the truth and is the real character from the story.
We would sit upright, analyzing every word and move the players would make, trying to be the first to figure out the "truth teller." After many questions and finger pointing, I picked the wrong one. My mother was right again. Somehow I was never able to completely win with her. If I picked the right character she had already picked it first.
"I think the show was a rerun but I'll let her take the win this time," I remember saying to myself as she laughed in my face!
When the commercials came on and the laughter stopped, she turned to me and said, "Now it's your turn to tell the truth." This was one of those times when I couldn't read her facial expression. I didn't know if she was playing or very serious. Yet, I knew just what she was talking about.
"You want the truth? ... WELL YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" I proclaimed in an attempt to bring the laughter back. My attempt was unsuccessful. She just stared into my eyes. Standing there with one hand on her hip and her head tilted slightly to the right, she gave me the look. You know ... "THE LOOK." That "Boy you better answer me with a neck roll and I got a belt and know how to use it" look! There was no question asked, but I knew just what she wanted to know.
"OK," I said as my heart dropped to my ankles; "I'm bisexual!"
I don't think I was ever as proud as I was then. I don't know if it was because that was the first time that I was identifying as bisexual, or that I was prepared to defend the title.
She only took a second to reply. "No you're not!" she stated as she began to gather her things for bed. I knew she was thinking hard, and now I really couldn't read her body language.
"Yes I am!" I affirmed, mentally ready to defend myself against whatever she would say next. I just knew that she would try to talk me out of calling myself bisexual, or say it's wrong. I thought of all the times in the past when she would say things like "Bring home whoever you want; remember, you are the one that has to be happy with them, not the family" or things like "Color doesn't matter -- they can be red, blue or purple, but you have to live with them."
"No. You're not!" she said, with a calm but stern voice. I followed her walking from one side of the room to the other as she exaggerated her efforts of getting ready for bed.
"Yes. I am!" I said mocking her tone. Trying to show her I was just a serious.
"NO YOU'RE NOT! NOW TAKE YO ASS TO BED," she demanded. The look she gave was something I'd never seen before.
I said nothing, and I left. I don't think I slept a wink that night. I kept wondering, how predictable is she really? What will she say in the morning? What would she do? Who can I call if she kicks me out like most of my friends' parents did when their parents found out?
The next morning when I got up she was already gone. I went to school and told my favorite teacher, who gave me a pat on the back and said, "Things with be fine. Don't worry." But, I couldn't help but to worry. I went to the library and started looking up resources for runaways and thinking of who could I turn to.
When I got back home from school and the library, my mom was home and in her room. She didn't greet me when I walked in the door. I was so stressed I wanted to cry. I kept saying "I love my mother; I really don't want to run away," walking down the hall. I dropped off my books in the living room as I headed to my room to change clothes.
When I got to my room I saw a small box on my bed. Quickly I began to open it. It was a box of condoms. "Condoms!?! " I said to myself with a blank face. I thought, "What made her think I was having sex? Is she telling me it's fine to have sex?" The thing is, I was already having sexual experiences, and if you stick a box of condoms in front of a teenage male it's like the golden ticket.
Only later in life did I figure out that my mother just didn't know how to reply. She didn't know much about bisexuality and didn't know how to educate me in the area. She knew that if she gave me condoms that I could protect myself, and we could figure the rest out later.
It was a rocky road of conversations on the subject and my choice of partners. Now my mother is my biggest supporter. Whenever I bring someone around that I'm really interested in or involved with, she would introduce him or her to the family as her son or daughter. My mother loves me and takes pride in who I am!
PRIDE EQUALS LOVE ... and that's the truth!
If you want to help Tree get to Vienna for the International AIDS Conference in July, check out his fundraising page. About $250 more, and he'll be on that plane!