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Mom's Coming Out Day

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Audio, Donny Lumpkins //Produced by Malcolm Marshall Posted: Dec 17, 2009

Editor's Note: A young man tells the story of the day his mother came out of the closet and revealed that she likes women. This is a submission for the KQED Youth Perspectives Contest. Donny Lumpkins is a content producer and Malcolm Marshall is a producer at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

I can clearly remember the day my mom came out to me. In fact, I might have mistaken that day for a dream if everything hadnt changed immediately after.

I was around 7 years old. My parents sat us all down on a couch in the living room--me and my two sisters. We occasionally had family meetings where we talked about needing to be nicer to each other and trying to keep the house clean, but I never paid too much attention. I would just nod my head and say, "Okay."

But somehow, my mother looked different this day. She had been changing, and I had noticed. She cut her hair and dyed it blonde. My father was changing, too--drinking more and spending more time alone in his car while listening to old love songs.

After beating around the bush, my mother finally said, Kids, your mother likes girls. Her face went flush. She looked a little embarrassed to say it out loud, like she hadnt already said it many times. Looking back, it seemed to be the kind of truth that holds more validity the more you say it.

At the time, I didnt get it. I bounced the words around my head like a pinball. "Your mother likes girls."

I had my first grade school girlfriend. I knew I liked her, and I knew what that meant. It meant I wanted to see my girlfriend a lot, hold hands, and play with toys together. Is that what mom was saying? Did she like to see and hold hands with other girls? My two older sisters were always at each others throats, so the idea of two girls actually liking each other was completely foreign to me.

My little brain went into overdrive, connecting dots like the detectives looking for Carmen San Diego. My moms friend, Cowboy Carol, dressed like a boy but had boobs like a girl. We would spend time at her house and she would ask me questions like "do you have a girl?" and "what sports do you like?"

I always wanted to ask a question of my own, like, "How do you know my mom?"

It was a question I had for a lot of the women that my mother would bring around from time to time.

I was too caught up in my thoughts to know what to say. My sisters must have felt the same because they were as quiet as church mice, their eyes on the wall. Maybe they knew something that I didnt.

Before I could find out what all this meant for us kids and for my father, Mom was gone. Her mother got sick, so she moved from where we lived in Sacramento to her hometown Boston.

My family made do. I realized how little my mother actually did. My father did all the cooking and cleaning, so when she left, it didn't seem to make much of a difference.

The day my mother came out is the day that everything changed. It was the day I realized my parents had their own lives and problems. I realized that some day, Id have real problems of my own.

I went through the normal phase a child undergoes when a parent decides to leave. I thought it was my fault. I blamed my dad and my mother. I got angry.

But now, years later, my mother and I are okay. Not great, but okay. I know how hard it is to follow your heart when everything in the world seems to point to something else. She says that leaving us was one of the hardest decisions she ever had to make.

I can't imagine how hard it would have been if she had stayed.

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