Coming Out to Your Parents...With a Cake?
Imagine being the parent of a beautiful daughter who excels academically, practices her faith openly and extends herself to those in need. Imagine having dreams of her going off to college, falling in love with a young man, graduating, getting married and giving you an arm load of grandbabies to love and cherish. Then imagine the day that she confides in her dad (who then tells you) that she is gay. I don’t have to imagine any of this because that is exactly what happened to me several years ago. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I did not handle the news very well; I was anything but loving and understanding. My dreams were crushed and had absolutely no idea how I was going to deal with it all; what would everyone think? How did this happen? My reaction almost caused me to lose my girl.
When I read in the news recently about the young girl who baked her parents a cake, decorated it with the words “I’m gay” and left them a clever coming out note, my heart filled with mixed emotions. What a blessing it was for her to be able to open up and be well received. Unfortunately for my daughter, it took a lot of work for us to get where we are today; the blame resides solely with me. Putting our past behind us and moving forward, I am thankful that my girl considers me her best friend (well, next to her girlfriend) again and that we are able to talk about anything. I asked my daughter to contribute her thoughts on the young girl and her coming out cake; this is what she had to say…
“Coming out is hard. Coming out to your parents is difficult, but that's not the only reaction you have to worry about. Because once you're out, you have to worry about telling your friends (if you haven't already), the rest of your family, your co-workers, and pretty much everyone you care about. Sometimes you can have the conversation with the people you love, and sometimes it feels like you have to drop the bomb, or in this case, make a cake, and run as fast as you can in hopes of avoiding the fallout. Only after the smoke has cleared and the initial reaction is over is it possible to ascertain if there's been any damage. From the article, it seems that this girl was pretty lucky in that she avoided the worst of it, and got to eat cake at the end.
While baking a cake and leaving a note full of puns is actually really awesome, it does point at the worries of people who do have to go through this process. As someone who has come out to more people than I can count (whether by choice or not), seeing the initial reaction of whomever you're telling is terrifying. Because what if they think I'm weird? What if they hate me? What if they're mad that I didn't tell them sooner? What if my boss finds out? There are so many questions that you ask yourself before making this step, and I can promise you, they're all still careening through your head even while you're telling them. This girl probably felt like baking a cake and leaving a lighthearted note was a way to get out of being in a potentially supremely hurtful situation. And she was right. Things like this do help ease the process, and help us avoid the initial fallout. But, really, is it acceptable that people are terrified of coming out? I suppose the answer to that question really depends on whether someone is, personally, accepting of someone being gay, but in my opinion, it's not.
I think baking a gay cake was cute, funny, and brings lightheartedness to a sometimes heavy issue, but I caution people not to forget the fear that was probably behind this action, because you can never know how someone is going to react until you actually tell them. Coming out sometimes is totally fine, and sometimes it's ridiculously painful. Let's not forget that.” ~Melinda Robey
While the work was difficult for our family, we find ourselves in a much better place than ever before. As we sat around our dinner table just this past weekend with our daughter and her beautiful sweet girlfriend I realized that this is our new normal and I am perfectly happy with that.