42: She Already Knew

42: She Already Knew

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

She Already Knew

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

~G.K. Chesterton

I was fourteen. My girlfriend at the time was in southern Georgia while I was in Metro Atlanta, and we had only met online, never in person. We’d gotten into the habit of staying up late on the phone, even falling asleep sometimes, because my sisters or parents would constantly interrupt during the day. Nighttime was the only time we were sure to be unbothered.

I’d gotten comfortable in the routine: my dad would fall asleep on the couch, Mom would help him sleepwalk into their bedroom, my sisters and I would each go to bed, and my mom would turn in for the night after cleaning whatever dishes were left in the kitchen. I’d hear my mom’s door shut and immediately text my girlfriend for her to call me.

This particular night, however, my mom was taking a very long time to go to bed. My girlfriend grew impatient, so I let her call but warned her that I would have to whisper until my mom went to bed.

What I didn’t know was that my mom was in the living room, on the other side of my bedroom wall, reading a book with no intention of stopping any time soon. Eventually, I got too complacent and loud, and she heard me. My heart jumped out of my chest when she burst through the door, hissing at me to get off the phone and go to sleep. I quietly whispered what had happened to my girlfriend and hung up, burying under the covers so that I wouldn’t have to face my mom’s glare.

The next day, I was a wreck at school. I knew my mom wanted to talk to me about why I had been up so late, but we wouldn’t have a chance to be properly alone until she drove me to orchestra that night. At school, I was constantly expressing my worries to my friends, all of whom already knew I was gay, asking them what I should say. I’ve always been a generally good kid; I wasn’t used to getting in trouble, but there simply wasn’t any credible excuse I could give to my mom to explain why I had been up so late without coming out to her.

Then I thought about what my mom’s reaction would be if she did know it had been my girlfriend I was on the phone with instead of just a friend, like she’d thought. Her being my girlfriend was the only reason I would stay up with her on the phone, after all. I voiced the idea to my friends. Although they said that it was a brave decision to make on a whim, I had their support in whatever happened.

I wasn’t particularly worried about my mom’s reaction, necessarily. I’d been thinking about what would happen if I came out to her for a while; I didn’t think that she would go so far as to kick me out or anything, but I had absolutely no idea what her opinions were on LGBT issues. I was sure she wouldn’t hate me, but that didn’t mean she would accept my sexuality.

Usually, I would sing along to the radio when riding in the car, especially when it was just my mom and me. However, that night, the ride to orchestra was spent with me in silence, constantly wondering when she would bring up the late-night phone call. When she dropped me off, she assured me that we would talk on the way back home.

Well, that didn’t assure me at all. It only served to make me more nervous, so during rehearsal, I forced myself to get completely lost in the music we were playing so that I wouldn’t have to think about what was to come. As soon as I started packing up my violin, though, all the nerves came back. I felt sick to my stomach, wondering what was going to happen once I told my mom that I was gay.

We were five minutes into the car ride when she asked me, “So, what made you think it was okay to be on the phone at two in the morning?”

This was it. This was my chance. I willed for my voice not to crack as I spoke, but it felt as if my heart was trying to claw its way up my throat. “Because she’s my girlfriend,” I replied.

There was only a half-second pause: “Okay, so why did you think it was okay to be on the phone at two in the morning?”

I was shell-shocked. Out of all of the reactions I’d imagined, I definitely hadn’t thought that my mom would simply gloss over my Big Coming Out Moment.

That wasn’t the case, however. After chastising me for staying up on the phone and promising me she’d take it away if she caught me again, my mom started asking me about my initial answer. She asked if I was gay, and then how I knew; I told her yes, and that I’d simply never wanted to be with a boy, but girls had always gotten my attention.

She was completely fine with it all. “If I’m being completely honest,” she told me, “I kind of already knew.” Apparently I’d had a fixation with girls since I was little, be it the pink Power Ranger or my fifth-grade student-teacher. She promised that she didn’t love me any less or any differently.

That was nearly six years ago. Since then, my mom has been my support system within the adults of my family. When I came out to my dad and he didn’t react very well, she was right there to reassure me that everything would be fine. She asks how my girlfriend is doing when I’m dating someone, and she can always tell when we’ve broken up. She doesn’t question my clothing choices and lets me be who I am.

A lot of people don’t get so lucky when they come out to their parents. A lot of teenagers are kicked out onto the street simply because of who they love. My mom has been the most accepting, loving parent I could ever wish for. I knew I was lucky to have her before I came out, and that belief was confirmed once I’d told her the truth.

I know that she’ll always be by my side, supporting me in who I am and what I do. She’s the best mother I could ask for, and I will never be able to thank her enough for that.

~Ayanna Bryce

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