Gay cable channel Logo recently debuted Coming Out Stories, a reality series which chronicles queer men and women coming out to someone significant in their lives on-camera. In their first episode, they profiled Karen, a 27-year-old single mother who was out to everyone in her life except her sister and her mother, who has a fatal brain disease. Karen came out to both on camera, with emotional and uplifting results.
Since the episode aired, Karen's life has changed in many ways. She talks to us about her experiences making the episode, coming out to her family, and coming out to the world on national television.
AfterEllen.com: So, how did you get involved with this television series?
Karen: It’s so funny how it happened. I was looking around the MTV website for an artist I heard on the radio and there was a casting call link. I clicked on it, just to see. I’d had an audition for American Idol so I was kind of interested. I scrolled down and there it was: “Are you lesbian or gay and is there someone significant in your life who you would like to come out to?” I thought, Wow, how great would that be? My mom doesn’t know. I’m 27 years old. It would be great to tell her. So, I sent an e-mail and they were very interested and I got a call the same day.
AE: And then how long after that did you actually film this?
K: We filmed it six months ago from now. But after I got the call they were at my house within a few weeks to see my environment. And then we started taping a month later. It happened very quick.
AE: Before you saw that ad you must’ve thought about coming out to your mom and sister, but is this what sparked you to say, It’s high time, now I’m really going to do it?
K: Exactly. It’s funny because I honestly think that if it wasn’t for the show, I probably to this day would still not have told my mom or my sister. And I’m so glad that I did. So, that pushed me.
The twist of my story, if you want to call it a twist, is that my mom is sick. She has an incurable brain disease and she only has a few years left, if that. We’re hoping for two more. So, it was a big decision to make. Why would you want to upset someone who’s dying? You left it alone, so you might as well keep it that way. Why cause her any shock? Hey, Mom, guess what?
I really struggled with it, but the show gave me an opportunity to bring us closer. And why wouldn’t I take an opportunity to get closer to my mom while she only has a few years left? So, I was really torn apart on what to do.
AE: Did you actually have people telling you you shouldn’t do this to her, why upset her, or was that your conscience telling you?
K: I had a few people telling me they were against it, said absolutely don’t do it, but they were people that also don’t know me and my mom and how close we are. The people that did, they supported me on it. They were like, 100%, go for it.
AE: Can you say why you think you might not have done it sooner with your mom if you guys are very close? Was it a fear of how she would react?
K: I had disappointed my mom throughout my life. You know, as a child. You can’t be perfect, and I felt like I disappointed her because I didn’t graduate from college when I should have, I got pregnant when I was 19 years old. It was an early fluke thing that happened in my life, and so I kind of messed up a little there for a little while. And I just thought, I don’t want to disappoint her anymore. So I left it alone for a long time and never brought it up. She never had a clue. Then, I’m just so strong in who I am that I felt like I was lying to her constantly and hiding constantly.