I came home after a night of hookah and Hennessy—a time was had. That night, my friends and I celebrated and poured into each other, and that left me with a confidence and reassurance necessary to do the most sporadic and frightening thing I’ve ever done in my life: I came out to my family.
After years of denial, creating talking points with my therapist, and going through a list of worst-case scenarios with my best friend, I finally stopped preparing. I felt armed with enough ammunition to take on whatever response I’d get from them. A little tipsy but extremely aware, I called my mama first because if I told her, I knew there was no coming back. No going back into the proverbial closet. No hiding a part of me that I loved but that some of society and my culture want me to hide. No more saying no to my happiness.
To give you some brief background, I was born in Houston, Texas—inner city, Northside to be exact (pronounced “nawf-side” in my Southern, Houston accent). I was technically the youngest of six, but my eldest sister died before I was born. We grew up mostly in a low-income, single-parent, church-adjacent household with a father who had/has a substance abuse addiction that caused a whirlwind of childhood problems. So, to me, adding another element that would make my life even “harder” was out of the question.
The reality is, the culture, my family, and some friends didn’t make it feel safe for me to come out. Growing up in a Bible-Belt state and within a community that didn’t welcome queerness—even though I was still Black—didn’t help. It didn’t feel like an option for me growing up, not if I wanted to accomplish my dreams, because I had no representation of a successful Black queer woman in my ecosystem. So, I kept my head down and proceeded to grind and graduate, just so I could get closer to achieving my end goals.
I moved around quite a bit post-grad school and landed in Washington, DC. There I found my village. There my duality—my sexuality and my Blackness—was not only seen but valued. My friends, who are now my chosen family, showed me that I can be loved wholly.
After I told my mama, I went on what I called a “coming-out” tour, telling my immediate family and the friends who I thought should know. All the years of prep to fully love every part of my identity helped me to enter into every conversation with the authority to not ask for acceptance but demand the respect and love I grew used to, the love I deserved.
I took a break from my blood family because I wanted them to sit with what this new, loud, intentional love for their daughter/sister/niece/auntie/[play] cousin would look like for them. I am still on that journey to figure out when the time is right to accept it.
Look at this as a public check-in. A status update, if you will. This open letter will be a shock to some and old news to others, but I feel amazing. I love myself fully and the woman I’m evolving into, and I know one day you all will too. Until then, I will continue to live Black, queer, and hella proud!
What identity are you hella proud of and why?Leave a Comment