Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why ‘Coming Out’?

Just the other day I was thinking about the whole idea of coming out and how I broke the news to my parents about my sexual orientation.

I let my memories take me all the way back to my childhood and the games we played as kids. I was always so jealous and overprotective of my female friends, some would say possessive but to me it was just caring and loving my friends too much, maybe just a little bit too much. At the time I had no idea what those feelings meant, there was nothing sexual about my behaviour, just a warm fuzzy feeling.

I think about my favourite toys and how I was never interested in dolls, when all my friends wanted all types; the crying baby, the peeing baby and the all time famous Barbie doll that I cared less about.

I was into playing house and never wanted to be the mother, always the kid because I was never allowed to be the father; “Only boys can be father” I was told all the time.

Now back to the whole idea of ‘coming out’. What’s my childhood got to do with coming out? Here’s a scenario for you to think about; imagine the days when you used to play ‘hide and seek’ and the fright you got each time your brother, sister or friend jumped out of their hiding place without you realising where they were hiding, scaring the living daylights out of you! Now think about how some people ‘come out’ to their parents; without any preparations, they just utter to their parents; “Ma, I’m gay”, what’s stopping your mother from having a heart attack if you just pounce out of the closet just like that?

I laughed when I thought about it; the thought of someone literally “jumping out of the closet” was quite dramatic and scary and would definitely give me a heart attack.

Maybe if we didn’t call it ‘coming out’; it would have less shocking effect and drama. It’s the same as saying to your parents; “Ma, I’m having sex now!” your mother would probably collapse right there, not because she doesn’t know you have sex but because you just pounced on her unexpectedly.

We need to prepare our parents, step out of the closet while you’re still ‘alone in the room’, let your parents start asking themselves questions, let them see your friends because personally I think if you’re yourself through and through, your parents will not see you any differently when you do ‘come out’ because you stepped out of the closet a long time ago. Slowly they get introduced to the ‘real you’ without any shock factor or hide and seek games.

I do know though that there are same sorry excuses for parents (forgive me) out there that will go to the extent of throwing their kids out of the house. It’s a shame that after nine months of caring another human life inside you, you would turn your back on your very own flesh and blood.

I understand being shocked and worried about what people will think but after a short while, a child’s wellbeing and the need to be loved and cared for takes priority to what your neighbours will think.

This is by no means a solution or guide to ‘coming out’, just my usual crazy thoughts about life and its mysteries.

To all my brothers and sisters that have taken the step out of the closet only to be met by judgements and hurt from their parents; hang in there, it might be hard for now but you will pull through.

To those still in the closet; when you are ready, it will happen. Take your time; a single step out of that closet will make a huge difference in your life, how you view life and how you view yourself. All I know is that when I stepped out, a warm light and a free soul took over me and I would never go back in there for any reason (it’s terribly hot in the closet, no air).

5 comments:

muholi zanele said...

you write so well. i can't wait to read one of your chapters in any black feminist anthology. give it a try so that the world embrace your writing.
submit something - sylvia tamale made a call for african sexuality materials for publication. the deadline is mid-october.

with love from muholi z.

Rhoda said...

i was discussing coming out with another friend of mine last week - and we got into a discussion about whether coming out as a concept has different implications or meanings for different cultures? i am still undecided to be honest

Entle said...

owk this got me laughing a little.... trying imagine some1 pop out a closet literaly.....

Tu said...

Hello,
I see that your blog was written sometime last year, and you haven't posted anything for 2010. Based on the two 2009 pieces that I've read of yours, I think you should continue. As you other commentators have indicated, you write well -- clearly, to be specific. More importantly, for me, you seem to have a balanced view of life, which is refreshing. To be able to use your skill to share your experiences of being and insight as a black lesbian in South Africa with many others, especially young women of color (I'm from the U.S., so this includes women of many shades), who are seeking information is such an important -- yet, underrated -- task.

Tu said...

Hello,
I see that your blog was written sometime last year, and you haven't posted anything for 2010. Based on the two 2009 pieces that I've read of yours, I think you should continue. As you other commentators have indicated, you write well -- clearly, to be specific. More importantly, for me, you seem to have a balanced view of life, which is refreshing. To be able to use your skill to share your experiences of being and insight as a black lesbian in South Africa with many others, especially young women of color (I'm from the U.S., so this includes women of many shades), who are seeking information is such an important -- yet, underrated -- task.

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