I Came Out to My Mom and She Conveniently Forgot

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You always remember the moment you came out to your parents. It’s full of fear, anticipation, nerves, and hopefully, relief. You remember it because it’s an important moment in your life.

So your parents should remember it too, right? Not necessarily. At least not for me. I had to came out to my mom twice, because she forgot the first time.

A few years ago, I came out to my mom over the holidays. Things were going well with the girl I was dating, and when my mom inevitably asked me if I was dating anyone, I decided to tell her. Coming out wasn’t something I had really planned to do, mainly because my realization that I liked girls was so slow and long that I figured it should be that way for my family, too. That, and I lived across the country and I didn’t know how to bring it up on the phone.

So that day, when my mom asked me, “Are you dating anyone?” I decided it’d be a good time as any to come out. I told her I was seeing someone. Naturally, she was curious. “Who is he?” she asked. “Well, she is a comedian,” I said. Then, I showed her a photo of my girlfriend and me, to which she nodded politely. She thought about it for a moment before she turned to me and asked, “When you say dating, what do you mean? Do you guys kiss?” I answered that yes, we do.

That opened up more questions for her, such as, “How do you know if you’re dating versus just hanging out as friends?” So I explained that just like dating guys, you can hang out one on one as friends or you can go on a date–the two are pretty distinct and it just depends on the situation. It slowly sunk in for her that I might be gay. We went on to have a healthy conversation about what I meant when I said I had a girlfriend; that I was attracted to both men and women. By the end of our conversation, I felt I had gotten my point across, and she had come to a new understanding of who I was. It was a relief. My mom accepted me and my (then) girlfriend. We skipped off to dinner and it didn’t come up again.

Almost a year later, I was at home again. Since then, my little brother had also come out as bi. As my mom and I talked in the kitchen, she casually said, “You know, your brother told me you came out to me, but I didn’t know that you liked girls.” At first, I thought she was joking. We had clearly had a conversation about this. “I told you, Mom. A year ago. Remember? We were sitting on my bed and I showed you my girlfriend’s photo?” She stared blankly back at me. “No, maybe you weren’t very clear. I don’t remember any of that.”

As I stared incredulously at her blank, confused face, I realized that she had blacked out the memory of my coming out. Now, my mom doesn’t drink or smoke, and besides an anger problem, she is a very healthy person. So the only explanation for this sudden memory loss must have been her denial. Her denial was so strong it willed a memory straight out of her mind. I was taken aback by this because I had lived the last year of my life thinking my mom had taken my coming out very well. Turns out, she hadn’t taken it at all.

So, I came out for the second time to my mom. I explained once more to my mom that I was attracted to both men and women, just like before. The only difference this time was that I was no longer dating my ex. So the exchange was underlined with the subtext of “It doesn’t really matter who I like, I might end up alone—oh God! Why do the people I love keep leaving me!?”

In my mother’s defense, she did seem genuinely confused about not remembering my coming out—she even apologized for it—but no matter how much I insisted, she still didn’t remember the actual conversation. What mattered to me, however, was that she still accepted me. Maybe she just wasn’t ready the first time. Hopefully, the second time’s the charm, but I’ll find out when I’m home for Christmas this year. And if not, I’ll just keep coming out until she remembers.

Teresa Lee is a producer, writer and stand-up comic. Follow her on Twitter: @leresatee

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