KarMel Scholarship 2008
Honorable Mention: Best Coming Out
By Matthew Seymour - OH
Desciption of Submission: “This is an autobiographical narrative that I wrote for my freshmen English course. The main character Tom is actually myself and the realization alluded to in the title is my discovery that being outed is not a bad thing and that I would be okay despite my fears” - Matthew
Why Karen and Melody Liked It: We loved how his story reminds us that coming out is a different process for everyone. It takes us awhile sometimes, to accept ourselves as GLBT, and his story demonstrated a great way to help those we love during the same difficult process.
“Wake Up!” yelled Mom as she burst into the room and turned on the light.
“What now?” thought Tom. He could not believe how early Mom was waking him up this time and on a Friday! It wasn’t even six o’clock and he was not what one would call a morning person. The usual gamut of reasons ran through his mind: the dog is loose, the neighbor’s cows got into the field again, Mom broke the computer. As he stumbled into the family room, Tom was startled by the look on his mom’s face. Something was different.
Mom stood in front of the computer. Her face was perhaps the angriest Tom had ever seen it; for someone so short, she could be a formidable force when she wanted to. “Explain this,” she mumbled, pointing at the computer.
Tom knew without even looking what was there. He had been talking to people online for months and had even called two of them. He thought he had been so careful, painstakingly deleting every last shred of evidence. Apparently he had not been careful enough, because as he turned his now pale face towards the computer screen www.xy.com was staring up at him from the History page.
“I don’t know,” Tom murmured as he sank into the old wooden chair in front of his mother. Fear, a fear like he had never known took hold of him. So now she knew, his mom knew he was gay.
“Don’t sit there and tell me that,” shouted Mom, “ I want you to tell me now!” Tom had never seen his mom like this. She was a mix of every emotion at that moment and anger was the first one that reared its head.
“It’s a place to talk to people,” Tom said, “I needed some advice.” The words were barely escaping his lips. He was trembling and tears were streaming down his face.
“Are you gay?” Mom all but yelled. She wouldn’t even look Tom in the face as she spoke. The question seemed to last forever and it took what felt like an eternity for Tom to answer.
“Yes,” whispered Tom. He had hidden this part of his life for so long and was not ready to stare it in the face, especially not with his mom by his side. Tom just sat in the old wooden chair in front of the computer. He hated that chair; the way it creaked when you leaned back, the way it made his back hurt, and how he never quite seemed to get comfortable in it. However, huddled in that chair was the only place he wanted to be at that moment.
Tom looked up at the now empty room; Mom had walked out and he was alone. He did the only thing that seemed right. He deleted every last web address in the History page. Somehow hoping that this would erase what had just happened, Tom kept on working. As he finished, what felt like a deafening silence was broken when Mom walked back into the room.
“I want you to delete all of that,” she said in a somewhat calmer voice, “it’s the same as pornography to me.”
“It’s not porn Mom,” Tom replied, “and don’t worry I already deleted it.” He was relieved that she was calming down; he was beginning to do the same. Mom was leaving the room again and Tom looked up at her as she did.
“Is that why you’re going to Otterbein?” Mom asked.
“No!” he screamed. Tom could not believe she had just asked him that and he also was shocked at how accusing her voice had sounded. Maybe she wasn’t as calm as he thought.
It was six-thirty before Mom came back into the family room. She was getting ready to leave for the gym; obviously her morning ritual wasn’t going to be disrupted by what she had found out. Just as Tom was thinking that this was a little insensitive on her part, Mom came up to him and said, “No matter what, I will always love you.”
Those were the best words Tom had ever heard. He was beyond the point of tears, but filled with emotion as he hugged his mom and said, “I love you too.” With that Mom left and Tom hurried to get ready for school.
That day of school was the longest day Tom could
ever remember. The deafening silence of the morning seemed to follow him
everywhere he went. For some reason, despite how the morning had ended, he
“Hey where are you?” she asked.
“At school working on a poster,” Tom said, “I
stayed after track today.” Still seeking to avoid an uneasy conversation at
“That sounds like a plan,” said Mom, “I’ll see you
when you get
There they were again, those three words that kept telling Tom that everything was ok. “I love you too Mom,” he said.
One his way to work, Tom sought advice in the only place he could think of, his friends Ryan and Chris from the website. After talking to Chris, who only offered some sympathy, Tom called Ryan. He hesitated at first, wondering if he should be talking to people about this, especially people he had never actually met, and afraid that Ryan would have nothing but a sympathetic ear to offer. Luckily that was not the case.
“Tom, you have to understand that this is hard for her too,” Ryan calmly replied to Tom’s mumbled explanation of the morning’s events, “you have to be there for her and make sure she is okay.”
After talking to Ryan, Tom felt a little better. His Mom still loved him after all and Ryan seemed convinced that everything would be okay. Why shouldn’t he be just as confident?
Tom went to bed as soon as he got
“Are you okay?” was all he asked her on Saturday morning; the sleepless night had not provided anything worthwhile to say.
“Tom, I’m just worried; I don’t want anything to happen to you,” she said.
“Mom, I’m a smart kid; I know it’s going to be tough but that’s something I’ve come to terms with,” Tom said, “and I’m going to be here for you too if you can be here for me.” He wasn’t sure where this confidence was coming from, but he suspected that the words “No matter what, I will always love you” had something to do with it.
Tears were welling in Mom eyes as she spoke, “You know I will always be here for you, but I’m still going to worry.”
Tom was glad he had listened to Ryan’s advice. Talking to his mom was making them both feel better. “That means a lot to me Mom,” he said, “but try not to worry; I’ll be okay.”
I’ll be okay. Those words stuck with Tom the rest of the day. It took everything that had happened the previous morning to bring his identity into focus. Though it wasn’t the means he may have chosen himself, his Mom’s discovery had left him with a sense of acceptance and liberation that he would carry with him from that day on. He had realized that denying his identity wasn’t going to change it and accepting it was the only way he would be truly happy.