“On December 14, 2014, I accepted that I [was] not heterosexual. That’s not to say that I have fully discovered my sexuality. I do not know whether or not I am gay, only that I am not heterosexual. As of now, I know that I am sexually attracted to males, though that sexual attraction is not accompanied nor has ever been accompanied by emotional attraction. I have not yet found a word to describe my sexuality, and I think it is possible that I never will. I do not think that language, a generally agreed upon set of sounds assigned to thoughts, can describe something as unique and personal as sexuality. I think that one of the reasons why estimates regarding the number of people deemed heterosexual or homosexual are so variable is because there truly are 7 billion unique sexualities. I think the labels “gay” and “straight” depict human sexuality as more binary than it truly is, and it is my belief that people choose these labels because having the ability to identify yourself and know yourself through and through is a source of comfort and security for many, especially in a society where everyone is connected to each other through various forms of communications contrived over the centuries. Thus, in order to answer the question on whether or not I am gay, all I can say is that I don’t know.
I would now like to clarify a few things. First, I am the same person that I have always been. As mentioned earlier, I accepted that I was not heterosexual on December 14 of last year, so if you insist on believing that my sexuality has changed me, then that change occurred 35 days ago. In other words, if you do not believe that I am the same [person] you and [my father] have raised for the past 14 years, then it cannot be contested that I am the same son I was a month ago. That being said, I do not expect you to accept my sexuality immediately. I understand that accepting something of this magnitude can take time; it took me several years, and even then I am not fully comfortable with my sexuality…
One of the biggest fears running through both of our minds right now are the implications of this fact. Several of my friends and family will no longer respect me, and some may even turn their backs permanently. I will not be treated fairly by society, and I will never be able to father a child. Most importantly, according to several [scholars of our religion], I will not be accepted by God. To that, all I can do is repeat what you have told me about keeping secrets. I may be able to hide things from other people, but God is all-seeing. Regardless of whether or not I choose to live a lie about my sexuality, God knows and will always know the truth. In the end, God holds the power to decide whether or not I am a good [believer] and more broadly, a good person.
Ultimately, it is not in my power to decide my sexuality, as it is an inherent part of my existence as a human being and something that I was born with. The only choice I have is whether or not to accept myself, and I have chosen to accept. I now present the same decision to you. Whatever decision you make, remember that I will always love you and appreciate all you and [my father] have done for me.”
I sent the letter to my mother at around 10:30 p.m., about the time when everyone in my family was winding down to go to bed. At first, I felt nervous as I sat in my room, rereading my letter over and over again. That nervousness soon transformed into an even darker emotion: fear. In my life, my religious beliefs had served both as my ground and my sky; my stability when all else was uncertain, my source of hope when all I could see was failure. My religion defined me no less than my name, and it seemed as though my identity was collapsing upon itself. After a few minutes, I heard the loud buzzing of my mother’s outdated phone, followed by three loud “bings”—she had received my email. After she had read my letter, she sent me a text, telling me to meet her downstairs. I pulled the dark blue comforter off my bed—my parents always keep the thermostat low—and went to the living room. When my mother came downstairs and sat on the other side of the couch, I immediately buried my face in my comforter and began to sob.
On the night that I came out, my mother was more supportive than I could have imagined. I discussed with her my two main concerns: coming out to the rest of my loved ones, and whether or not I was acting against God. In terms of coming out, she told me that I should do what I was most comfortable with, and that she would always be there for me if I needed someone to talk to. The second (and bigger) concern was a bit more complicated. My mother promised she would look into the literature of our religion and personally investigate, finding it difficult to believe that God would condemn his creations for the qualities he endowed unto them.
The next Sunday, my mother made her weekly Skype call with her brother. They had a long argument about what exactly our religion said about homosexuality. I sat on the other side of the room, quietly listening to the conversation unfold. My uncle, much more well-versed in the teachings of our religion, insisted that God had very specifically condemned homosexuality. He argued that God made some people homosexual as a lifelong test of their faith, and if they were true believers, then they would suppress their sexuality, either by acting straight or by remaining celibate. When my mother closed the computer, we briefly made eye contact; in her eyes, I saw despondency.
Things have only continued to decline since then. My mother has seemed to force herself to forget about my sexual orientation, and has resumed her opposition to homosexuality. The other weekend, my brother teased my mother while we were eating dinner, asking her if she would disown him under various circumstances.
“What if I told you that I had done drugs?”
“Yes. Don’t try me.”
“How about if I married an atheist?”
“Do you really want to talk about this again? Yes. ”
“No way, really? You’re crazy. What about if I told you I was gay?”
Without hesitation, my mother responded.