Thought Catalog

Dear Mom: I’m Gay

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Ryan Stewart

I’m sorry, I tried.

Since when, you ask? I don’t know that myself. What I know is, I can’t remember a time when I was the complete opposite of what I am right now. I guess I always knew that I was different, even as a kid, but I never thought about it this much, until now. I’m very sorry for never saying anything. In a way, I regret that I held it in for this long. If I told you as a child, maybe you would’ve accepted what I would grow up to be.

You sent me to Christian schools, where I learned about the forbidden aspects of my identity. As I said, Mom, I really did try to change. I denied the questions from everyone, myself included, which had always scared the hell out of me. “What am I?” I ask myself constantly, and when I start to think that I may actually be gay, I deny it from myself and everyone who wonders. I’ve always been scared to answer that question with the truth. I’m scared to answer that truthfully in front of people, but I’m even more scared to answer that to myself when I’m alone. Believe me, mom, fighting my own self for all these years gets harder and harder with each passing day, because it was getting more difficult for me to accept the truth. I tried to follow what the Bible says, because of all people, you knew how much I loved God and how much I loved studying the Bible. But I guess, you just can’t set who you really are aside, just like that.

I tried to do other things to divert my attention from the thoughts that bothered me constantly. I tried to live up to all of your expectations, which you never really set, but I was determined to meet them. I focused on my studies. I even forced myself to crush on the opposite sex, hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’ll straighten. I even hid it from the people around me, even making up fake female exes to make myself appear straight. But even though they seemed to believe it, I knew they were all thinking one thing: I’m a fraud. I wake up every day thinking, what happened to me? Why did I have to turn out like this? Even if I try to be a good person, I would not really be living if I’m trying to live someone else’s life. I wished every day that someday who I pretend to be would finally be who I am. But it just doesn’t work like that, does it? I guess that no matter what I do, I’ll never be able to meet that one expectation: to be a man, to be someone I am not.

Then came the first real heartbreak I’ve ever had. I felt so worthless and I felt like shit. Yes, Mom, I fell in love with a boy. I’m sorry. I tried to suppress it too, you know. But then I actually felt happiness. For once in my life, I felt accepted, with a different kind of acceptance. And for once in my life, I decided to let go of my ghosts and entered that dangerous battlefield. I just wanted to be happy. I just wanted to be wanted. And then, like what I pretended to be, all of that happiness just turned out to be an illusion. I tried so hard to appear strong, but I was completely broken inside, because I knew, I didn’t matter to him. And it’s not because I’m ugly, or because I’m fat. Well, maybe partly that, but mostly, because I am gay. He does not want someone like me, and deep inside I knew, no one would. That is the truth, I am worthless. I am not worth the trouble, or the embarrassment, or the time, or even the attention. No matter what I do, no one would ever completely accept me, because I am different. Nobody would ever take me seriously, because I was a liability nobody wanted to have. I am not worth anything, and I’ll never be wanted by anyone, but maybe except you, Mom. That day, all I wanted was to go home because I knew your presence and your embrace would take all my pain away. And go home I did, and I felt better, but the pain was still there.

I’m sorry if I told other people first. I know you’ve always told me to never completely trust anyone because you never know who’ll hurt you, but I didn’t have any choice. If I kept all of it to myself, I would explode.

Believe me when I say there were days when my heart longed to tell you so bad, and my friends told me that you’d accept me, no matter what. Deep inside, I knew that as well. But then, I heard you expressing disdain and disgust for people like me, and it just added to the pain I already have. Suddenly, I felt like shit again. That night, I wept silently in the bathroom while taking a bath. I became afraid to be my true self again because I couldn’t stand the thought of disappointing you, my mother, who I loved so much. I could stand to disappoint my father and my brother, for I have already accepted the words they haven’t said yet. You were the only one I don’t want to see disappointed in me. And after all, they aren’t as close as we are. I grew up with mostly your presence, without a male role model to guide me. I don’t blame you or them, Mom. I blame myself. I don’t know how this came to be but I don’t have anyone else to blame, so maybe I’ll blame myself. I give you little disappointments from time to time, like failing to do household chores and my inability to budget my allowance, but you forgive them easily. If I give you this disappointment, I don’t know if you will.

Mom, every time you talk about marriage and grandchildren, my heart breaks a little more inside, because secretly I knew I could never give that to you. Every time you tease me about getting a girlfriend I want to cry so bad because I don’t know if the day will come that I’ll introduce you to a girl I am actually in love with. Every time you say you don’t want me to ever fall in love with a boy, my tears threaten to fall because I know it’s already too late and I have broken that rule before you even knew it. Every time someone says that no one among those who carry our surname is gay, I would fall silent, because I feel like I don’t deserve this surname either. I’m sorry that I’m not that showy with my feelings because I don’t want you to think I am what I am. I try to mask it with bravado, as men do, but I can never, ever be manly like that.

You once told me a secret. You told me that I was your favorite son, although you equally love the two of us. You said you loved the way I’m so responsible with the household chores and my studies, among many things. You said there’s a difference between the way you love the eldest and the way you love the youngest. And every time I remember that day, I whisper ‘I’m sorry’ many, many times in my head, because I know this is a mistake. I didn’t want this either, Mom. If there was a solution, I would’ve taken it, because I don’t want to break God’s laws. I don’t want to stray away from Him, and I don’t want to hurt you.

And now, I’m still keeping this a secret. I’m still afraid of the things that haven’t happened yet. Remember when I told you about my anxiety and my depression? This is one of the things that trigger it. I overthink and overcalculate my actions when I’m with the family because I don’t want them to find out. I feel like shit all the time, undeserving of everything that I stand for as a person. I don’t feel deserving of this surname, or love, or happiness, or acceptance, or friends, or even the right to be called your son.

When the next phase of my education began, I moved to the city. A new world that I am not too familiar with. But I never thought that the city could change me this much. For the past year, I started gaining confidence to not care about what people think. If people have a problem with how soft I move, or how feminine I speak and act, that isn’t my problem anymore. I started thinking of myself, to do what I want to do, and when I do it. This sounds selfish, but this is the only time when I’m legitimately happy with myself. I don’t know why but the thought of people giving zero fucks about me gives me confidence. After all, I’ve already given people enough disappointment in my lifetime. If I fuck up any more, so what?

But sometimes, I think, there isn’t a point in any of this if you are disappointed with me, Mom. So what if I’m confident now? If the way I express confidence gives you disappointment, then what’s the point of it all? Mom, the truth is, I don’t care if the rest of the world doesn’t accept me. Your approval is all that matters to me. I don’t even have to fall in love with men if you’re uncomfortable with that. I just want you to accept the mess I have become. If the world doesn’t want me, then fuck the world. If you do, then that’s good enough for me. TC mark

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