...or trying to, at least.
I think one of the most frustrating things about coming out is the way some people will treat you like you're a completely different person. It's been difficult for me to understand why this happens but I've been giving it more thought lately.
From my perspective, I haven't really changed. I'm still the same person. I just don't struggle as much as I used to. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm gay. I've found acceptance and I can say that I'm happy with myself and with my life these days. I'm a much happier me. I would think that this would be seen as a great thing, but we all know that just depends on who you're talking to.
What is it like from someone else's perspective?
Honestly, I can't say. I've tried to imagine though. I've tried to imagine what it must be like for my dad. He doesn't act the same towards me anymore. He doesn't hug me like he used to. He doesn't always talk to me like he used to. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't want to be around me.
But why? I know that I'm not that different than I used to be. So what has changed?
I think it's the idea of me that has changed. I don't know what it's like to be a parent, but I imagine that you make plans for your kids. You have ideas about how their lives will turn out, you have hopes and dreams for them, you want them to succeed and do well in society. Because just like us, our parents have been taught and conditioned to what is "right" and what is "wrong" and what "normal" should look like.
I was once that "normal" daughter. I was given a path to follow and I followed it.
Then I got divorced. Well gee, that's not something a parent can be proud of. That's not how it's supposed to work out, and no one wants to talk about it. Everyone knows that if you're married in the temple, you're supposed to live happily ever after. I didn't have any kids, so no grandkids to put pictures of on the fridge or in the wallet. But still, as disappointing as that is, it's not horrible. You can still answer honestly and without embarrassment when your friends ask "and how's Amy doing?"
I don't think that's the case anymore.
And now that I've "decided" to be gay, there won't be another marriage...at least, not one to invite family and friends to, not one to send announcements out about, not one to hold a reception for and have people share in the happiness of. There won't be grandkids...there might be a grand-puppy, but there will be no proud "look at my grandkids" moment, not from me anyway. There won't be another son-in-law to golf with, barbecue with, have guy talk with. The idea of that, and the happiness that would surely come along with it, is gone.
No matter what I do, what I say, how long my girlfriend and I are together and happy together, we can never replace that. We don't fit the definition of "normal" as my parents understand it. And we never will.
So I haven't changed. But the idea of who I was, and who I was supposed to be, has. Combine that with gay and lesbian stereotypes, the AIDS epidemic, the club scenes, and that's definitely a recipe for awkwardness.
I wish I could tell them that they are great parents, and they haven't failed because I'm not going to end up with another man. I wish I could tell them that they raised me well, and I'm proud of my morals and values and the person they helped me become. I wish they felt like they didn't have to be ashamed of who I am.
But maybe if I keep trying to put myself in their shoes, one day, they'll also try to put themselves in mine.