My Coming Out Story: Thulisile Lange
The following story was submitted by one of our readers in honor of Coming Out Day.
I am Thulisile Lange and this is my coming out story.
After breaking the news to my sister in August 2016 I felt a little more free to completely be myself around her but I knew that coming out to my mother would be one of the biggest challenges and indeed it was.
One chilly Thursday evening my mother, sister and I were in the car, parked in the drive way. My sister had given me ample warning that she would start the conversation on my behalf and when mom started asking questions I'd need to take over the conversation and rest assured she did. My sister started off by stating that I had found someone to share life with as I had moved to China and that person happens to be a woman. My mother quickly told my sister to keep mum as she was just a messenger and mom needed to hear this from the horse's mouth. "Mamami, ndithandana nabafazi." (Mom I am attracted to women) were the words I found myself uttering in xhosa.
Fast forward a year after coming out to my sister, sitting in the car and telling my mother "how I have sex with my girlfriend" was both an empowering and demeaning experience. Hurtful insults were spewed in my direction. Probing questions that were meant to have me feeling timid and ashamed of my sexuality were asked because my mother was hurt and confused to hear that her youngest daughter of two possibly wouldn't walk down the aisle to meet her knight in shining armor. I wouldn't bring pride to the family as her first born daughter had. The conversation was a lengthy one and many tears were shed (at least on my behalf).
I remember sitting in the front seat of the car that evening thanking the heavens that my mother was in the backseat. She wouldn't possibly lay a hand on me even if she had the impulse to. The words I needed to hear coming from my mother that evening were "you're an amazing person." Yet the solace I found was in my own ability to whisper those words to myself as I wept myself to sleep that evening and how light I felt after having the conversation with my mother.
Fast forward a couple of months later, my sexuality hasn't been discussed with my mom again. References are made to my now ex girlfriend as a manner of questioning whether or not I am still gay. I feel a lot more free to be open about my sexuality and engage in conversations about gender and sexuality because the most important person I felt needed to know about my sexuality now knows.
If I can come out to my mother, I can honestly do just about anything.
Thulisile Lange is from Johannesburg, South Africa and currently lives in Shanghai, China. She is a high school English teacher. She is an aspiring performer with a background in theater work and spoken word poetry shows. You can follow Thulisile on Instagram @ thuli_lange