Back by popular demand, remedy guest blogger of Pita in a White Bread World, Gilda Mansour, shares with us her story of “Coming In.” The coming out journey is a common experience that binds together the LGBT community. Whether you live in San Francisco, Asia, Africa, or South America each coming out experience is deeply personal, heart-wrenching, and courageous. We’ve asked Gilda to be our San Francisco correspondent for our newsletter while we travel abroad this year. We want to thank her for her bravery to share her story.
For a long time I thought I was complacent not telling my mother I was queer. However, I was not living in complacency. In complacency, we stay the same, not progressing nor digressing. Hiding reduced me. It shrank me, which is dangerous for an already short woman.
Fully integrating my life seemed as likely as winning the lottery, until I realized that I already had the winning numbers. Telling my mom has been like laying out a welcome mat and making myself at home in my skin.
When my relationship of over two years disintegrated, I felt myself spiraling downward. Sadness, disappointment and anxiety catapulted me into wanting to tell my mother. My ex-girlfriend had her doubts about what our life would look like if I stayed concealed. I had the same doubts. I feared saying them aloud would force her to leave or me to reveal my sexuality to my mother.
Romantic relationships are exciting and petrifying for the same reasons. The door the person enters is the same they can use to exit. To me, family does not come through doors; they are supposed to be our foundation. However, living in half-truths left me feeling as if I lived in a house built on sand.
The secrecy created a glass ceiling in my relationship. My ex-girlfriend and I were limited by more than our inability to spend holidays together; we were stifled by my lack of ownership over my identity. I felt like I had plastic wrap over me, preserved, but not fresh. My movements were restricted, like being stuck with a “Q” and no “U’s” on a full Scrabble board. It was difficult to envision a future as a queer when my mother did not fully know me.
Sometimes the thought of telling my mother was as light and delicate as a snowflake. Many times, the idea was a thick, blinding snowstorm pounding against my brain. Eventually, the thought filled me with a feeling of liberation, defrosting the flurry on my mind’s windshield.
“Gilda’s going to kill Mom” was the topic of one-way text and phone messages from my siblings when they realized that I planned to tell our mother. I opted out of the exchange since a conversation with my siblings absent of their support seemed like unnecessary torture. Re-reading those messages makes me feel as though my stomach is a dryer with shoes tumbling around in it.
In a collectivistic family, such as mine, I am to be more concerned with the family unit than myself. To them, I am selfish. My body tenses with resentment when I think that living my life authentically appears self-interested.
I hardly slept or ate during the week leading up to March 12. My mother arrived at 7:00 pm and left abruptly fourteen hours later. Unburdening myself, I told her that I had been in love with a woman.
Among other things, she accused me of being abnormal, selfish, brainwashed, immoral and arrogant. Her insults were sometimes so ridiculous that they were like being mugged with a bubble gun. She said that maybe if she had tried sex with women, she would have liked it too. Intrigued and perplexed, for a moment, I wondered if my mom was stealing my queer thunder.
Furious and miserable, my mother demanded that I live my life within limits, but I cannot anymore. While she said she loved me, she could not accept my sexuality. I do not regret telling her. However laborious, I am choosing to start mixing and pouring the concrete to create a more stable foundation for myself.
Picture 1: Courtesy of Gilda Mansour
Picture 3: Courtesy of Gilda Mansour