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My sense of home shifted when I came out

18 Dec 2017

I often wonder whether it was worth coming out to my parents, more so now that I am at home. Being in my mother’s house leaves me yearning to be back in my own space, wondering whether my temporary term time address has become my default grounding and happy place.

It is worth questioning what “coming out” even is. It’s well known that coming out is not a one time thing, but is usually understood within the context of having to disclose your sexual/gender identity to people on various occasions. As I understand it, the notion of coming out multiple times to the same person is commonly found in the context of QTIPOC. This is because for the most part, our parents and relatives have a completely different understanding and tolerance of LGBT+ communities compared to their white counterparts. This isn’t because our countries are backwards, it is because colonialism took away our ancestors’ right to express freely their fluid gender and sexual identities, and that internalised hate is still festering today.

Many years and generations down the line, we are stuck between the rocky paranoia of a relative seeing a queer post on social media, and a hard place where microaggressions and wishes for an “old self” are commonplace. That is just at best; at worst, there is disownment, estrangement, and physical and mental danger.

“Many people who are detrimental to your wellbeing are not consistently draining and disrespectful”

Many people who are detrimental to your wellbeing are not consistently draining and disrespectful, nor are they wilfully ignorant and dismissive. This makes it harder to acknowledge that no, you are not in a safe or positive environment and these people are not accepting of your identity, despite the fact that you still laugh together and that they support other aspects of your life.

“Why are all of your friends somewhere under the LGBT+ umbrella? Why can’t we make any jokes around you? Why are you never at home?”

I will not stand for anyone calling my country backwards because of the views and attitudes that my parents hold, but I will not make excuses for their actions and behaviour either. From my perspective, the problem doesn’t lie with my parents’ views, but rather with their perceptions of what loving behaviour is. My mother thinks that evenings spent peacefully together ring louder in my head than her countless eye rolls when she learns that another of my friends isn’t a straight cis person. My father remains convinced that his conditional support and wise words cast away the flagrantly ignorant and hurtful comments.

“I never fathomed living more than five miles away from my immediate family”

Growing up, I never fathomed living more than five miles away from my immediate family, and I looked forward to spending holidays at home. But I have come to realise that this sense of home has to shift in order for me to preserve my mental wellbeing. The realisation that I no longer feel able to stay at my parents’ house for more than a week crushes me and is laced with guilt. I’m breaking the comforting, age-old mould of propping one’s loving parents up on a pedestal and daring to wish I lived somewhere else. Then comes anger. The audacity of parents to raise you in such a way that you should never want or need to be away from them for too long, only to push you out of that place when they see fit. What now?

I cannot change anyone’s mindset overnight, and I don’t wish to disregard the healthy aspects of the relationships with my parents. I therefore acknowledge that I must maintain a multifarious sense of home, indicative of my multifaceted identity, and work to feel as strong a sense of self in each of them.