#ComingOutStories 4: An extended coming out

“Coming Out”, in the sense of making a grand announcement about my life feels distant to me now. I remember calling each of my close friends, about 10 years ago, to tell them I was crushing on a girl from school. Group chats didn’t exist then. It was not nerve-racking for me. Each of my friends told me to pursue it with everything I had. I lived in a lucky bubble. With my parents and siblings, it was different. My parents know but they do not accept it. Even though they are not thrilled about it, they are learning to live with it, but this is happening in a way that I do not like.

I think there are also different levels of “Coming Out”. I soon learned that even though my parents were theoretically OK with my being queer in the sense that they knew and were not threatening to disown me or place me in conversion therapy, they were not OK with it in the practical. In this sense, I cannot share news of a new relationship or a breakup in the same way that my sisters who are straight can. I still struggle with feeling that I have to compensate them for my queerness, so I better not burden them with events of my love-life, good or bad.

My partner does not get to have Skype dates with my mom nor does she receive hand-made gifts from her. In no sense is she regarded as my significant other by my parents. She only remains referred to as “my friend”, even though they know that she is way more than that. They do their best to avoid acknowledging this love. While one of my sisters is fantastic and accepts my partner in her full capacity in my life, my other sister has never asked me how my relationship is going or how my partner is. She has never asked me about any girlfriend and there have been many opportunities, trust me.

This may change over time but from what I hear from friends who are in similar situations to me, that this for them is one of the hardest parts of being in a queer relationship. Reconciling this cold acceptance from family with expectations of full acceptance –slight feelings of having failed them with gratitude that they rendered any acceptance at all – simply knowing that you deserve so much better and that they need to do better.

Some people have the energy, and put in the effort to thaw this coldness, reasserting their relationships and the importance of their significant others. Making others see that we are just as happy as hetero couples, or even happier. That we are just as normal. To carry on with this ‘extended coming out’. I don’t think it’s a fair burden on us.

Ifeatu
Nigeria