I grew up in a fairly strict Caribbean household. My grandfather was a pastor back in Jamaica. And both grandparents on my mothers side were heavily involved in their own churches. As a result so were my parents, especially when I was young. I would be at Sunday morning service and sometimes the evening too. And would follow my mum to choir practice. And I myself was also very heavily involved in church especially in the youth department.
All of this played a huge part in my sexuality. It meant that I didn’t come out until later in life, well later than I would have liked. I knew I found women attractive from around 13. But with my culture and my religion being so important to me. It was something that I ignored. Also at the age of 13 hormones are everywhere. But at the age of 13 I had chosen to come out as bisexual to two of my close friends at the time who were both mix-raced. They were extremely understanding and not at all judgemental. Which should have made it a lot easier to live my life. But nonetheless I pushed the feelings aside. And joined in with the girls about who was buff at school.
All that girly chit chat led me to start speaking to boys. I dated a few and actually found myself attracted to some. I had the most wonderful boyfriend at age 17. That treated me like a princess and was so in love with me. But something was missing for me. So I ended that, breaking both of our hearts.
It wasn’t long after this, that I decided I needed to live life for myself and refused to live in fear or my parents or what people thought of me. So I got into a “situationship” with a woman. And this, I must let it be known was difficult for both of us. We were both new explorers in the land of LGBT. But nonetheless that spark, that special something that I didn’t have with my ex boyfriend, was right there with her. Having that special something I began to slowly come out to friends. Which was a daunting experience as most of my close friends were people I grew up with at church. They are still convinced that this is a phase. I have lost some of my black friends who have a hard time coming to terms with my sexuality basing their prejudice on religion. And some who were ‘straight’ up and said that if I ‘choose’ to be gay then we can no longer continue our friendship. I am 100% comfortable and happy with my sexuality and therefore have no problems speaking about it around Afro-Caribbean people it can be a very difficult subject to broach. However, I am always happy to voice my opinion and unfortunately most of the time these conversations are confronted with ignorance. So it can be quite hard to meet new people, or you meet new people who are friendly until my sexuality is disclosed. Still I have friends that are extremely supportive and couldn’t care less which came as an overwhelming surprise. Of course, conversations between old friends change slightly. People can be unsure of questions they are allowed to ask, which is understandable. But we need to remove the discomfort from these conversations. Best way to do that is to basically not ask anything you wouldn’t be happy to answer yourself and it should be fine.
But it was at the ending of my first encounter/”situationship”that led me to finally speak to my mother about it all. My mum and I are so close. She’s my best friend, so keeping such a huge part of my life from her was really difficult. I remember we were in the car coming back from doing some shopping at IKEA and I just blurted out “I just broke up with my girlfriend”. And she slammed on the breaks so hard I’m glad we both had seat-belts on. At this point all she asked was “am I going to have grandchildren”. I explained to her that being gay doesn’t mean I can’t have children if I wanted them. Her other bone of contention was whether I would tell my grandparents. She has asked that I ‘play’ straight till they pass. And that was the end of that conversation.
Every once in a while she will ask me again if she’s going to have grandkids and this is around the time I started talking to someone who she knows is female. She will also occasionally attempt to set me up with someone. But overall she has been ok with it. I am yet to introduce a partner to my parents, when the time and person is right I will be more than happy to go home and introduce her to my wonderful parents.
It takes time for it to all sink in for parents. The fairytale life they had planned for you feels as if it’s been snatched away from them. But I’m lucky. My mother is just beginning to understand that I can still have my fairly tale. Only difference is that my Prince Charming, will be a princess.
By Abigail Wright