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If your parents react badly when you come out, this gay man’s story will give you hope

If your parents react badly when you come out, this gay man’s story will give you hope

Bryan Blaise recounts his experience of coming out

As coming out stories go, Florida’s Bryan Blaise didn’t go as well as he might have hoped.

In a video he has made for I’m From Driftwood, the ground breaking archive of LGBTI voices, he recalls going home aged 22 to tell his parents over dinner that he had started dating a man.

Their reaction?

His father put down his cutlery, took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, how do you justify this by the scriptures?’

His mother ran out of the room to grab a Bible. She returned and proceeded to read out passages that she believed condemned his sexual orientation.

Eventually, says Bryan, ‘My patience snapped.

‘And I turned to my mother and I said, “Well, as you’re sitting there pulling out all those verses that you know so well, why don’t you turn to the verses that say that as the first-born, all of this is mine, and as the man I have total authority and respect and, as a woman, you are property according to the Bible, and should not be talking to me with such disrespect right now.”

‘Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy about that comment but that was my first experience sort of coming out to my parents and how my relationship with my mom started out with me as a gay man and how that was going to progress from there.’

Belittled for being “liberal and effeminate and secular”

Bryan realized that it was going to take his parents time to accept his sexuality – if they ever truly did.

A turning point came around six years later, in 2013. He attended a family wedding in Columbus, Mississippi. His whole, extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins were staying in the same hotel.

‘One morning at breakfast, we’re all sitting around a table and I pulled out my phone to show my grandparents pictures of my recent trip to London and Paris.

‘My grandfather, who is very man’s man, men do men things, and definitely a good southern Confederate, proceeded to start to belittle the pictures, start to belittle my current enrollment at Columbia Business School. And naming it, both institutions and the places I visit as liberal and effeminate and secular.

‘And I proceeded to try and be really calm, but still a little distant and ask questions. And ultimately, people started joining in the conversation. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Everyone sort of bearing down on me.

‘I felt this touch on my shoulder and my mom had come out’

‘And the experience of looking at your family, people that shared your history and your blood, and they’re all facing you with very critical questions and demoralizing comments. I kind of silently worked my way through it and then walked outside, just to kind of separate myself from them.

‘Quickly, I felt this touch on my shoulder and my mom had come out.

‘And she had some tears in her eyes and she looked at me and said, “I’m gonna sit on this bench. And I’m not getting up until I understand. I know what I’m gonna say is gonna be wrong, and I know that I’m gonna ask questions that are probably inappropriate. But I’m doing it because I really want to understand.”

‘And so we sat there as family members tried to come out and get my mom’s attention and she waved them away.

‘It was a couple hours of lots of crying, talking some, trying to find the courage to be vulnerable in that moment with someone who for so long, probably unintentionally, had said or done things that were harmful or left me sort of questioning my worth as a gay man. But it was the start of a wonderful relationship that’s continuing to today.’

Health scare

A few weeks later, Bryan’s mom told him that she had had a health scare.

She had kept the information to herself for a couple of weeks, and whilst processing her secret, had realized that she was experiencing something similar to what Bryan might have felt when he was growing up. Keeping something monumental to one’s self; afraid to tell others.

‘She turned to me and reminded me of that, shared with me that she now had a greater understanding for what it was probably like growing up, and how tough that experience is and how brave queer individuals are as they go through that growing up without an accepting home where they feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about and declare who they really are.

‘And in that moment, I realized she got it.’

Patience

Bryan said he was grateful that he had remained patient with his parents and hadn’t tried to push them for acceptance too fast or too soon after coming out to them.

‘I was thankful for the years of being patient, the years of myself learning how to not push people away through avoidance or sarcasm or anger, but much more a sense of openness and knowing that she’s on a journey that maybe where she’s at was where I was at a decade ago.’

‘The love’s there, the empathy’s there and it’s growing – both within her and within me.’

Need support or advice with coming out? Check out these helplines.

 

H/T: I’m From Driftwood