I had always had this thought in the back of my head about kissing a girl but I never let myself truly acknowledge these thoughts until this out-lesbian showed interest in me one night. My mind was overwhelmed with realizations as all those thoughts I had suppressed for so long rapidly surfaced.
I started by telling my friends.
As they guessed and guessed who I had spent the night with, they couldn’t think outside the box. I wanted to tell them that it was a girl but those words had never left my lips before. After guessing countless men, I knew that the idea of them figuring it out was hopeless. I wished that they could read my mind. “It was…a girl,” I said after 30 minutes of restlessness. There was an expected silence as their minds comprehended what I said. They asked me a couple more questions and finished with, “you know this doesn’t change anything, you’re still the same Nyka. And we love you.” I couldn’t have been more thankful for amazing friends.
Two weeks went by and I started dating this girl. My parents are divorced and living over-seas makes communicating difficult and not happen very often. In the first month of dating her, my mom had asked a couple times if I was dating anyone, if I had a boyfriend and every time I answered with no, feeling a little guiltier for not telling her the truth. She asked again if I was talking to someone and this time I said yes. She continued to ask me questions about what they studied, where they’re from and etcetera and magically left out him/his pronouns. This was the first time that I was honest to her about dating this girl. I started to feel like I was living a lie because my parents didn’t know. It was the first time I was hiding a part of me and it felt so wrong. One morning, I called my mom and near the end of the conversation I said, “I need to tell you something.” I tried to back out but she was now keen on finding out what it was I wanted to say. I was excited to finally tell her, to share my happiness. I paused so many times in between saying, “I’m dating someone” before I spat out “her name is Charlotte” all in less than one second. There was that silence again.
“Well, Nyka, I know that women’s basketball has a big gay community and your gay friends are probably influencing you…two women getting married and having a sperm donor…I don’t believe in that…that is not a family…I still love you, you’re still my daughter…”
She repeatedly said these things through tears. I listened to what my mother had to say. This was the first time that I felt ashamed of who I was, made me feel like I was disappointing her. Even though I knew that there was nothing wrong with dating a girl, it definitely didn’t feel right. My own mother was the root cause to all this mental pain that I continually felt for the coming year.
Telling me that she still loved me was so ironic. I didn’t feel loved. In fact, I had never felt so much hate.
We talked again a couple days later and she reassured me that she didn’t approve. She said that the devil was tempting me to sin, and that she would pray for me to get back on the right path. She ended the conversation saying, “now, we don’t need to talk about this every time, let’s just agree to disagree.” So that’s what we do. We talk about once a month, about our lives but I don’t mention this part of me and she never asks.
I always thought my parents to be quite opposites and so were their responses. My dad was visiting for Christmas. He’s driving me home, with my sister and brother in the back seat. “I have to tell you something, dad.” He started spitting out ridiculous, comical guesses as to what I was going to say. “did you buy a car?” was one of them. I went with the same approach “I’m dating someone…her name is Charlotte.” His body language went from nonchalant to slightly sad, but sad in that he didn’t know this about me. “As long as your happy, Nyka. That’s all that matters,” he said in a soft, calm voice and then asked me questions about her. I cry every time I replay this conversation in my head, because it represents how amazingly supportive my dad has always been in anything that I do. His response couldn’t have been any better.
I came out on Facebook on June 13th by changing my relationship status. I had been with my girlfriend for seven months now. I got an abundance of support from hundreds of friends. This validated my feelings because it was finally out there. I got messages from extended family, which is what I was worried about most. My grandmother (mother’s side) even messaged me showing her support which was the biggest surprise of all. All this love and support I was receiving made me question why my mother couldn’t do the same. I didn’t understand and I still don’t fully understand now.
My mother’s feelings towards this part of me left me torn up inside for a while and delayed my own self-acceptance. But I look towards all the support that I’ve gotten and continue to get, and it outweighs all the hate.
I’ve grown to love and accept this part me. This is my true self.
And so, I wait for my mother (and whoever else) to come around.
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