Liberation In Coming Out by Naomi Jamsa
My name is Naomi, I identify as she/her and am extremely proud to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Since I was a kid, I was always an ally to the queer community, but I never imagined myself to be queer or could have anticipated rediscovering my sexuality in my early 20s. I feel lucky that no one ever pressured me to come out to my friends and family. It was purely my choice, as it should always be. Coming out can certainly be jarring. So many thoughts and fears run through your head. Overall, I wouldn’t say that I was afraid, especially not to tell my friends or siblings. However, I knew that coming out to my Latino mother was going to be a completely different story.
Initially I wasn’t going to tell my mum as I really didn’t feel the need to. However, a year later I got into a serious relationship, so I wanted to share that part of me because I fell in love and wanted to introduce them to my family. I also wanted to be open with my mum as we were very close, and she had always supported me. This was probably one of the biggest emotional challenges I have experienced in my life. It was at the beginning of the pandemic; I had temporarily moved back in with my mum, and I was afraid that my home environment wasn’t going to feel emotionally safe anymore.
The thing is, I wouldn’t exactly say that my mum was homophobic. I knew that she always had good intentions, however due to her Latino culture, traditional ways and lack of exposure with the LGBT community, I knew she was going to have an interesting, and potentially negative reaction to me being queer. Latinos are very family oriented and have extremely deep love for one another and their community, however there is also a huge culture of judgment, competition and selfishness in comparison to British culture, which is very much apparent within the first-generation of immigrants, my mother being one of them.
Still, nothing prepared me for how it actually went down. I remember sitting at the dinner table after we had finished eating, my legs were shaking, my chest felt extremely heavy, and my mind was racing a million miles an hour. Luckily my brother was there to support me, but I still couldn’t find the right moment to say it because I was just so scared. Then, when I eventually said it, it was as if the world had stopped, and we were frozen in time. Initially my mum didn’t react at all. It felt like the longest few minutes of my life. I asked her if she could say something to which she said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me” and she left the table crying. Oh boy then the tears came flooding down for me as well. I had so many different emotions in that moment; sadness, confusion, fear of our relationship changing, rejection and disappointment. I knew it was going to be negative, but I still didn’t expect that at all.
For the next couple weeks, we barely exchanged any words. It got to the point where I ended up spending less time at home. But eventually I decided I couldn’t live like that, so I brought it up again. After an hour-long conversation, I discovered that my mum was selfishly projecting all of her fears onto me. She was afraid of what her sisters were going to say, that I wouldn’t marry or have kids one day, and that my life was suddenly going to change in a negative way. I explained to her that this absolutely was not the case. I was proud to be queer, and that I didn’t care nor was I afraid of what my aunties would say. I also explained to her that I do want to have children in the future and that there are other ways to do so if I am not going to have a naturally born child. I explained to her how hurt I was by her reaction and that it made me feel isolated.
We actually ended up having a really good conversation and it ended on a positive and accepting note with both of us again in tears. Since then, our relationship has grown so much more. She has accepted my partner and shown us a lot of love. She eventually told me that she just wants me to be happy. It makes me so happy that I can fully be myself around her and don’t have to hide a part of myself anymore. One of my aunties did say something extremely homophobic towards me but I felt totally empowered after my mum stood up for me and supported me - which to be honest I didn’t expect.
Coming out can be jarring. But I want to reiterate that it should 100% be your choice. Yes, there are people that may react negatively, and you may experience fear and anxiety. But at the same time, it can be the most liberating thing to do as a queer person. I don’t regret it at all. I can live the way I want to and whoever doesn’t accept that I choose to not let them have the pleasure of being in my life. I hope me sharing this inspires you to make your own choice. Whether that be to tell people or not, you should do what makes you happy and live life the way you want to.
About the Author
Naomi is half Ecuadorean and half Finnish but grew up mostly in Scotland. She is the Customer Success Lead at OK+ and a psychology graduate who has always had a passion for mental health issues related to culture and belonging.She wrote this piece as a personal reflective essay in hopes to share her story and inspire others to not be afraid to be who they are.