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Sha? Merirei! @sha_merirei
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1: A thread about the older people in our lives and what they’re capable of, thanks to my amazing parents and in honor of #Pride month. ❤️ This is also the first time I’ve shared my full #ComingOut story. 🌈 (P.S. They’re also @islandirie’s parents! 😊)
2: When I was 8 y/o, I was watching [early] Oprah with my dad. Her guests were middle-aged women who identified as lesbians. I’d never heard that word before, so I asked him: “Papa, what’s a lesbian?”
3: My dad looked a bit alarmed but quickly said “Hush, that’s a bad word. It’s not for kids to use. Don’t say it again, okay?” And trusting my dad, it didn’t come up again. Not for a LONG time.
4: Fast forward to my early 20s, living away from home... I’ve known for YEARS that I’m not straight, but my extended family is churchy. Also, I distinctly remember what my dad said- so I live my life and avoid discussing personal details with anyone.
5: Meanwhile, I’m living with my girlfriend. She’s an amazing woman. She’s also 22 years older than me. 😳 And white. 😳 AND A WOMAN. 😱😱😱 So yeah... I tell my parents NOTHING.
6: But I’m also not a great liar, so bits and pieces of my personal life make it into convos with the parentals w/out me realizing it. Dad’s observant. He’s caught on, but he doesn’t say anything. (He’s always believed in the importance of privacy.)
7: Mom caught on too, but she’s prone to knee-jerk reactions. She calls me up one day.

Me: *answers phone* Hi Mami!
Me: Ummmm... I sell custom window fashions for a living- I pretty much see ONLY them.
8: Here’s where it got weird...

Mom: Your cousin [name withheld] told me that you have a girlfriend.
Me: But I don’t even talk to him. Why would he know about my life.

Two things HUGE things happened in this conversation: My mom lied and I did not.
9: Phone call ends and I call said cousin.

Me: Hey cuz... Dude, did you tell my mom that I had a girlfriend?
Cousin: That’s horrible! Why would I go around making up stuff like that? I mean, It’s not my business if you do– but that’s messed up.

Call gets more awkward and ends.
10: I’m confused and panicky. At this point, I have no idea who to talk to... So I work up all the strength and courage of my ancestors and call up my #1 confidant– my dad.
11: He picks up the phone and we make small talk about what’s on TV, then I succumb to verbal diarrhea.

Me: Papa... Mami called all weird and mad and said [cousin] told her I have a girlfriend *starts crying* so I called him and he said he didn’t and WHO TOLD HER?!
12: I’m still crying on the phone, but we’re otherwise quiet. And I’m scared because he’s not responding to the fact that I kinda just outed myself. Then he very matter-of-factly says “I did.”
13: How I didn’t just pee myself/faint at the point– I’ll never know.

Dad: She was confused about your last couple of calls and about where you were living. So I told her that you’d moved in with your partner.
Me: *insert sound of my jaw hitting the floor*
14: As could be expected, I still had no words.

Dad: I hope you’re staying independent while living with her though. It’s hard when she’s older and I don’t know if she’s ever dated anyone from another culture, so just be careful and be safe.
Me: Whaaaaaaaaaaat?
15: Dad is much more clever and observant than I’d ever given him credit for.

Dad: Look, you’re my daughter. My first-born. I spent more time raising you than your mother. I know you.
Me: But... I... Whaaaaaaaaaaat?
16: Just when I’d reeled my jaw back up, it hit the floor again.

Dad: It’s going to take some time for your mom to adjust, but she’ll be fine. Just make sure you stay independent. I don’t want you relying on other people- I raised you better than that.
17: Throughout that relationship, my GF and I would visit my parents (we lived a state away) and we’d stay over at their house. Their biggest concerns were the age and cultural differences– hence the nervousness about her being white. They were more worried about her adjusting.
18: Years and relationships later, my parents have continued to evolve magnificently. Even while I was in another country, they continued to defend and support me.
19: After I’d left to Palau, my parents attended a Xmas dinner with extended churchy fam. A cousin’s hubby made derogatory comments about “the gays,” and my dad got in his face.
20: Palauans on FB were debating same-sex marriage in “Palau 2012,” my mom posted this:
21: My parents stood by me when my then-girlfriend and I were living in the home of my recently-passed grandfather, along with and at the request of my younger uncle. This was when my older uncle showed up and tried to evict me by ax-point from a house that wasn’t his.
22: He literally ran around the house with an ax, screaming “KICK HER OUT! SHE’S GAY! KICK HER OUT! SHE’S MARRIED TO A WOMAN!” (For the record, I wasn’t married- Palau doesn’t allow same-sex marriage and decriminalized homosexuality AFTER I left.)
23: My parents stood by me and supported me when older uncle and his wife came to the house late one night, about a week later, and did kick me (and then-GF) out.
24: My parents stayed on the phone with me, through what must have been heartbreaking sobbing, to tell me to be strong and fight back. To seek revenge by being true to myself and succeeding professionally- because older uncle could do neither.
25: I turned 35 recently, and my relationship with my parents has evolved so much throughout my life. My dad said that “Growing older doesn’t mean I stop learning. I learn, I grow, I adapt because the world does. Those who don’t end up on the wrong side of history.”
26: I talk to them nearly every day and marvel at how my mom just wants me to be with someone who will treat me well and feed me. 😅 And how the man who once said “lesbian is a bad word” now asks my friends’ gender pronouns so that he can address them properly. ❤️
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