I walk towards the front room wiping my palms against my pants. I can feel the butterflies beating around in my stomach and my hands are shaking. My dad is sitting on the couch engrossed in the hockey game and my mom has just walked in with me and sat on the couch too. He has salt and pepper hair and is almost 50. Without his glasses, he can’t see 30 centimetres in front of him. His hand rests on his beer belly.
”Dad,” I say. He looks up. ”Can I talk to you for a minute?”
He grabs the remote, looking a little annoyed, and presses pause. He looks over at me, waiting for me to speak. The butterflies suddenly get much more frantic. I’m about to tell him I’m gay.
Figuring out my sexuality can be best described as a research project in the fall of my Grade 9 year. Whether or not I was gay was a fascinating puzzle to piece together and that’s what I did. I talked to my mom from the beginning. From there I threw myself into hours of research online and self-reflection.
When I felt I had reached an impasse, I went to my school’s guidance counsellor, asking her for help and resources. She gave me a list of websites to consult, the name of the person for a LGBT group called PFLAG and offered to ask an ”out” 12th grader if she would speak with me.
I was a little intimidated by this 12th grader so I looked at the websites first. I spent hours pouring over these but found myself still unable to make a decision. There was something blocking me.
I went back to my guidance counsellor and asked if she could put me in contact with this 12th grader student who’s name I’d learned was Zoe. Soon after, Zoe added me on Facebook and we set up a coffee date to talk.
We grabbed seats in a corner of the cafe on red leather couches with a round coffee table between them. I kicked off me shoes and curled up, getting comfortable. We talked for an hour. I drilled her with questions. At the end she reminded me that it’s alright to take my time figuring things out and that there’s no right or wrong answer.
When I stepped outside and walked back down Prince William, I realized what had been in my way all along. It was so simple. I was in my own way.
I had been convinced that to decide I was gay it had to be a 100 per cent accurate decision so that I could tell people: ”Here is my new label: gay.” But sexuality isn’t a scientific research project with conclusive evidence pointing to one right answer; it is fluid and can often change over time.
I felt a weight lift off my shoulders because I now knew: I’m gay.
I have always talked to my mom about everything. She is warm and accepting, she likes gin and tonic in the summer and makes amazing mosaics. She was the one at home with my siblings and I as we grew up, so her artistic view of life became the way I look at life.
My dad is the scholar of the house. He will argue you into the ground if he thinks he’s right. When I was a young teenager my dad and I fought a lot because we both wanted to be right.
As I got older I understood, with a bit of annoyance, that the reason for this is because we are so alike. We play Risk and Monopoly together and go on walks to talk about current events.
I have rarely spoken to my dad about my emotional troubles. That was always my mom’s role.
I look him in the eyes and say, ”I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’ve talked to mom about it and I wanted to tell you too…I’m gay.”
The only word that comes out of his mouth is ”OK” and he presses play on the game.
I burst into tears.
”Rodrigue, your daughter just told you something important,” says my mom.
He looks at me surprised, worry flashing across his face.
”What’s wrong?” he asks.
He gets up and gives me a big hug and we all sit down on the couch, me in the middle.
The three of us stay together on the couch for a while, talking about my gayness and laughing about what just happened.
It had taken a while, but I’d found a comfortable place between my reason and my emotion.
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