It's Okay to be Gay

This is a guest post written by my “big little sister” Chanel.

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It was a warm summer day in the year of 2001.  I sat my sisters and my Mom down, tried my hardest to not squirm or twiddle with my fingers and proceeded to tell them “my secret.”   I felt the overwhelming feel of six eyes piercing seemingly through me.   “Can I really do this?” I thought to myself.  The bubbly gurgling intense feeling of nausea grabbed my stomach and turned knots into full-blown bubble guts. Come on, Chanel….don’t but such a punk.  Be like Nike and just do it.  My little motivational speech to myself that gave me a modicum of encouragement was just enough for me to inhale deeply and find the words” “Mom…Moxie…Dani…I have to tell you…I’m gay.”

The words felt like salt on a nicely placed scratch on the inner realms of my cheek. I closed my eyes and pulled a Former IF McMillan – I waited to exhale. It was as if the words echoed through the world and Earth did a momentary stutter step and then halted.  In my head, I could hear the theme song to the Final Jeopardy question resonate. It seemed like minutes went by, when all actuality, it was only a few seconds. I waited for a response…waited for question after question to be fired upon me.

My younger sister was the first to respond.  “Chanel,” she said to me with the utmost sincerity in her voice, “we already knew that. Mom, what’s for dinner”?

Moxie and Mom both busted out laughing and responded, ”We were waiting for you to realize it.”  And this…was my coming out story.

At Gay Pride Over Six Flags Atlanta ~ August 2011

At Gay Pride Over Six Flags Atlanta ~ August 2011

As you all are already familiar with, my family is not normal.  Mom is the deadly version of Clair Huxtable.  She can cook a mean pot roast and then tell you five different ways to use a spoon as a lethal weapon.  And she loves me for me. Danielle is Dora from Finding Nemo…always encouraging me to “just keep swimming” even when I forget how to swim or just don’t want to tread water anymore.  And she loves me for me.  Moxie, the prudish/gangsta nerd version of Charlotte from Sex in the City, taught me that it’s ultimately awesome to be a nerd and a geek and not to be ashamed that I read the dictionary just for the hell of it.  And she loves me for me.

*Imagine Morgan Freeman a la Shawshank Redemption while reading these last few lines.*

I wish that the teenagers and even kids these days had such an amazing support system as the one I have.  I wish that every kid that committed suicide because they were being bullied for being gay, could have come to my house to be surrounded by this abundance of love and happiness that was echoed throughout my life.  I wish I could tell them that it’s okay to be gay…that being “normal” is boring and being “abnormal” is what makes life worth living.  I would tell them, “Be proud of who you are.  Be proud that you’d rather rock rainbows than to rock hate and to never let anyone steal your gay away.”  Pun intended.

*Exit Morgan Freeman voice here*

I am proud to be who I am.  I am proud to have been raised in a house that was filled with love, fun times, and the true meaning of family and tolerance.  I’m proud to be able to stand under a big gay rain
And for that I am truly blessed.bow flag, with my sisters and my Mom standing under the same big gay rainbow flag with me.

28 Comments

  1. alice on October 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Love your story and your not-normal family. Most importantly, I love your message. Keep on spreading it!



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Thanks, Alice! I think that not-normal families are the best ones. Well – I don’t think any family is “normal;” the question is whether or not families can own it, embrace it, and use it to their advantage.



  2. Roselle on October 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Wow, being open about an unaccepted fact is strength in itself. Bow to you. It is always okay to be GAY. Loved the line, “Be proud of who you are. Be proud that you’d rather rock rainbows than to rock hate and to never let anyone steal your gay away”. An eye opener. Great read.



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

      I’m glad that you enjoyed my sister’s work, Roselle!



  3. Kristin on October 17, 2011 at 1:08 am

    You and your family ROCK. I love Moxie to death…tell her that we’re really sisters even though we don’t look like it…and I’d be proud to count you among my extended family too.



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

      We’ve been sisters for a LOOOONG time, K-Thug! We seriously need to set down some solid plans to get ourselves in the same airspace at some point.



  4. En Cinco's Gran-Gran on October 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I had a case not too long ago, in which the mother of a teenage boy; kicked him out of their home because she “heard” and then he confirmed he was gay. What’s interesting about this is her admitted denial of what she already knew. She eventually told me she suspected it and even knew it because of how he dressed and acted. I know this sounds stereotypical but he is (admittedly by him) what is referred to as flamboyant in his gayness. To hear him say it meant she could no longer wish it was just a phase he would grow out of.

    She wanted him to “be a real man”. I asked her to define what a “real man” is. She couldn’t in a way that would refute her reasons that justified putting her son out of their home.

    Sometimes I have to use a little bit of tough love with some parents and this was one of those times. I asked her about his father, her daughter’s father, AND her other son’s father. Yes… three children, three fathers. Neither of them supported their children financially and were not involved in their lives from the time they walked out. I asked her are these “fathers” real men? Do you want him to grow up to be like his father, who abandoned his son, has a criminal record as long as his son (6’2), and has 6 other children by four different women?

    Or do you want him to continue to grow-up and be the “MAN” he’s turning out to be? This kid was on the honor roll, belonged to the nerd clubs at the high school, worked with various fund raising groups in and out of the church, was popular at school in spite of being gay (which is no small feat), was the one voted “Most Likely to Succeed”, and had a full scholarship to any public college in the state.

    I pressed my luck big time when I told her she needs to grow up and be a real woman and mother. A mother that loves her child unconditionally, that supports him, that is there for him, and one that is not jaded by what society says is “normal”. I told her she made the situation all about her rather than think of the strengths and the courage he’s had to have all of his life. As if I had to; I pointed out to her that nothing has changed about him, that he is the same child she called her best. (She said at one point early in the case, “He was my best child until this!)

    I’m not going to say it was an instant change of attitude. A family that he’s been friends with allowed him to live with them. I got the family into counseling but made sure it was with someone that didn’t have an agenda to “counsel” him out of being himself and would work on the family dynamics, and would help mom through her turmoil.

    Three months of intense counseling later… he was allowed to go back home (by me), mom wanted it to happen a month after case start but I knew they had to work on things before he went back home).

    When I saw them the last time before closing the case, it was as if nothing happened. There was acceptance on both parts. He had to understand and accept his mother’s feelings also. I applauded and celebrated with mom the work she put into seeing things differently and working on her issues.

    I give my Chanel rainbows… for realz! She has a bad-ass collection of all kinds of rainbows or things with rainbow colors. I started the Rainbow Collection long ago to say, “I love you, I accept you, I’m here for you, and I’ve got your back.” Now, it’s just to add to the collection because the point was made long ago.

    I’m proud of the Belle (Chanel-Belle) for having the courage to be who she is and one that stood up for the underdogs. (Don’t worry Chanel, I won’t tell the “If You’re Feeling Froggie Then Jump Story”).

    I’m off to work now and in honor of Pride Week here; I’m wearing my rainbow pin!



  5. Chanel on October 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I love you Mommy. Kinda made me tear up a little bit. You can’t do that…you know I’m hardcore :). Thank you for always being supportive and even trying to hook me up a couple times :-). I’m glad you raised all of us to be the people we are now.



  6. a on October 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    You are one amazing family!

    I have a gay sister, who probably feels like she’s never been accepted by her family. However, she can’t see that, to most of us, being gay is the least of her issues. She is just a bit of a messed up person and that has caused all kinds of strife in her relationships. I feel bad for her, because she’s usually banging her head against the wrong brick wall. But I don’t want to interact with her, because she’s kind of a toxic personality. I’m sure she attributes that to me being prejudiced against her. It’s an unwinnable cycle here.

    My mom does have a hard time with all of it – but I’m actually proud of her for trying her best. She sometimes goes out to dinner with my sister’s girlfriend (my sister lives in Florida, but her girlfriend has been in school in my hometown in the midwest).



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

      That’s a tough situation all around, a. I truly hope that at some point, your sister will gain the clarity that she needs. I know exactly what it feels like to feel exhausted from trying to be there, but not feeling like your “tough love” kind of support is misinterpreted or ignored altogether. xoxo.



  7. julie gardner on October 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    …and she loves me for me.
    Amen.

    I loved this post.
    You have some kick-ass sisters, for sure, Chanel.

    And your mother?
    We should all be so lucky.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, for spreading the word.
    Really.

    p.s. Morgan Freeman’s voice? Always a good idea.



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

      I’ll have to get Chanel over here to see this comment, Julie!



  8. Jjiraffe on October 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Oh, wow. Chanel, you and your family are amazing! Thanks for this inspiring post and also Mama Chanel for your words of wisdom. Also I had to laugh a little at the description of Moxie as the prudish/gangsta/ nerd version of Charlotte from SATC!! Hee…



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I pout about that all the time, Jjiraffe, but it’s true. I always whine that I wish I was a Carrie. Mom and my sisters look at me like, “Umm – NO.” As much as I hate to admit it, I am Charlotte through and through. 🙂



  9. Balancing Act on October 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Love you guys!



  10. Amelia on October 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Absolutely wonderful post, and yet another reason I not so secretly would like to be adopted by your family. <3



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

      We tend to get that a lot. Consider yourself adopted. 🙂



  11. Barb on October 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Beautiful Chanel. Love it. I’m proud to say most of my family has this mindset as well.



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

      I’m proud to live in a time where I can see the LGBTQ community become more and more accepted. Change isn’t happening nearly fast enough, but at least it IS happening.



  12. Erica on October 18, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    What a great family. Great, powerful women standing together.



    • JW Moxie on October 19, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Thank you, Erica!



  13. Alexicographer on October 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    This is lovely, especially as we’re just back from a wedding (though, sigh, given the laws in our state not a marriage) welcoming one beautiful bride’s union to another in our family.

    I do now, however, feel I *need* to know the “If You’re Feeling Froggie Then Jump Story.” I’m just sayin’.



    • En Cinco's Gran-Gran on October 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      LOL… maybe Moxie can post something that somehow relates. LOL she’s my muse, I just piggy back on what she writes. 🙂



    • Chanel on October 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      lol I’ll tell the story only because it was all for a good reason. I was in the 8th grade and we were having P.E. Usually during P.E, I was either playing basketball or football with the guys, but for some reason I decided to sit under my favorite tree and just chill out. About 5 or 6 feet away from me, I see this group of girls picking on this other girl. It was probably five against one. So I walked over to them and told them they needed to leave her alone or they’d have a problem. Of course they had the pack mentality but two of the girls already knew who I was so they backed down. The other three still started talking and I tried to walk away, but then they started picking on the girl again. So I told the “leader” of the pack that if she wanted to start something, then feel free to start it with me. I said “if you’re feeling froggie….then jump”. She jumped…so i hit her. We fought a little bit, but then one good shot to the nose and she went down. The other ones pretty much scattered. Before i knew it a teacher came to break it up and I was sent to the office. I got home and told Mom…”Mom…I’m probably going to get suspended because I got into a fight today”. lol,, she just looked at me and asked me what happened. I explained to her what happened and she said….”oh….well….that’s what she gots.” I didn’t get in trouble, nor did I get suspended. So now “If you’re feelin’ froggie…then jump” is now a family saying.



      • En Cinco's Gran-Gran on October 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

        But Chanel, it was also one of those instances of doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Remember, I also reminded you of the “home” consequences for getting suspended from school. Since you didn’t get suspended, there were no home consequences.

        Home consequences in case folks are wondering: 1. You had to do the work you would have been doing in school even if you didn’t get credit for it. 2. Extra chores we all hated, such as cleaning the oven, cleaning floor boards, scrubbing the bathrooms, and any other gruesome chore I could come up with.

        I’m glad to see so many states developing “Bullying Laws”. Too many young people are dying or experiencing serious psychological issues from bullying.

        I’m still waiting to hear Moxie’s story about when she considered herself a bully.



  14. Chanel on October 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you everyone for the fantastic comments 🙂



  15. Poppy on October 22, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Thank God for supportive families. It’s just shameful that kids/young adults in this day and age still have to face the alternative. I’m glad this was not your experience.



  16. Molly on November 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Love this. I feel the same way about bringing all the bullied kids, all the kids without supportive parents to my house and just hugging them all and showing them what it SHOULD be like. I know when my cousin came out I was like “hmm, do I pretend to be surprised?” I think I went with “YAY! Mazel Tov!” I remember being at a GSA conference and reading a sheet full of questions like “when did you first realize you were straight?” “who have you told about your straightness?” and “how did your parents take it when you told them you were straight?” I must have been 16 at the time, and it blew. my. MIND.