Coming out is a bitch and a half, even in 2016. So many people still struggle with the complexities of their sexualities, and I know I did for 22 years.
Growing up in Boston, I was surrounded by Irish Catholic everything. From attending Catholic elementary school to living in a Boston suburb where it seemed almost everyone's grandparents came off the boat from Ireland, those traditional family values were instilled in me from the get-go.
However, these beautiful, yet perhaps old-fashioned ideals made me question why I was different. Frequently, my internal monologue would deteriorate into an unhealthy circular rant:
“Woe is me. Why do I have to be gay? Maybe I'm straight. Am I going to hell? How bad are vaginas? Would Viagra work well enough to fool a woman for 50 years of marriage that I'm straight? How often are you expected to have sex in a marriage, anyway? But why does Ryan Reynolds have to look like that? Do I get gayer each time I watch 'Les Miserables' 10th anniversary edition?”
These are the questions I asked myself through the years.
It took a long time to come to grips with the bare bones reality that I am a homosexual. For years, I could not utter those words to the closest people around me. Now, I'm writing blogs about it for strangers. We'll chalk it all up to gradual progress.
Unsurprisingly, dropping the bombshell on others who shared those same core traditional values in one swift motion would illicit some fantastically honest responses. Because of all the scandals still fresh in the minds of most Bostonian Catholics, they vary on the degree to which they care what the Church thinks about topics like homosexuality. This results in a wide variety of reactions, from loving acceptance to blatant rejection, to hilarious shock.
These were my 15 favorite reactions to when I came out:
1. “So … do you want to be a priest?” — My mom
Dating back generations, the eternal question for Irish Catholic parents has always been this: "Which one of our sons — of course, there are multiple because birth control pshhh — will become the priest?" Once one of them turns out to be a homo, you have to double down on that bet.
2. “When are you going to go to gay clubs? I want grandchildren.” — My mom, mere minutes after I told her
It's amazing how the grieving process works. A Catholic mom is still a mom, and she wants grandkids ASAP. (She did miss the point that two men do not make a baby, but that's irrelevant.)
3. “OK, I understand you're not ready for full-on gay sex yet, but, like, what about casual blow jobs?”
As much as the answer to this question was a hard “no,” I loved that at least someone was trying to figure out the logistics of pimping me out.
4. “Have you heard of Courage? I think that would be great for you.”
Courage is the Catholic Church-approved group that teaches “individuals with same sex attraction” to live a life of chastity. (Read: a life of boredom). In other words, it's the devil incarnate.
5. “I'm going to pray for you.”
Why? Because I'm too happy and too fun? I thought the pray-away-the-gay thing was outlawed. Or, at least it should've been in the Geneva Convention. It's a crime against sanity.
6. “I feel like you didn't consult anyone else about this.”
Oh my gosh, that's so true. I forgot we're doing sexual orientation by committee now. It's like a combination of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat and those death panels. I'll send everyone an Outlook invite. Tuesday night work? Oh wait, I've got a Grindr date, darn.
7. “I mean, I can't support this. If you got married, I couldn't go to that. But, I don't understand why we can't stay best friends.”
It literally took another two hours to explain why this was an untenable situation. Still not sure if she got the gist.
8. “I just want to help you work through this.”
I guess she did not get the memo that homosexuality isn't a phase. It's almost as bad as that time Miley didn't get the memo to wear stilettos.
9. “I mean, after death, I'm concerned where your soul is going to go. Like, I'm talking about hell.”
This is a fair concern, but not because of my sexuality. On Sunday mornings, I'm always in church, praying for God to ignore what I did the night before (specifically that 10th shot and the dancing on the table that followed).
10. “Ugh, I hate this. My girlfriend was right. Now, I have to tell her I was wrong. That's the worst part.”
At least he knew what the worst part was.
11. “Good thing you waited until after college 'cause that's when friends just drift apart, anyway.” — Inspirational quote from a former roommate
Thanks for the pep talk.
12. “You know gays adopting kids is, like, my favorite thing.”
I hear the paperwork sucks, though.
13. “Yeah, I knew that the minute I met you. So, do you want to split some buffalo wings?”
At least we have our priorities straight 'cause those wings are amazing.
14. “Do you want me to do the whole, 'we love you no matter what, and it doesn't matter to me' thing?”
Nah, we good, homeboy.
15. “So ... can I still make gay jokes?” — My younger brother
Duh. “He's almost too gay to function” will always be fair game.