I have been carrying a weight so heavy, it is hard to bring forth its reveal without losing some parts of me in the process. I am the adult child of a Preacher. Not just a Preacher, but a Southern Black Episcopalian Preacher/Elder/Minister who came from a devout Southern Black Baptist family. I was taught who to be, how to be, and what to be while in the walls of my parents’ home, until our home fell apart. I wanted to lose myself in the world because my world was no more.
Divorce to a twelve-year-old who had an intense bond with her father is crippling. I searched in many areas for bits of my father. Our apartment did not smell the same. The floorboards did not creak the same. Breakfast was not breakfast without my father blessing the food. My mom lost the glimmer in her eyes, depression sunk in. I deposited all of my energy into books, into writing, into excelling in school, in both academia and athletics.
I was eight when I knew I liked both boys and girls. I did not need anyone to tell me the difference, I knew it. I knew I wanted a certain little girl to walk me home, hold my hand, and sit with me on my mother’s porch swing after school. I was also aware without it ever being uttered, that in the eyes of my father, and his family that it would be “wrong.” I never once thought that my mother would scold me or make me feel less than who I was. I feared the wrath of my father. I feared what he would say, not what he would do as he was not a violent man, but what he would say — how he would say it.
I am half her, my mother. Half of her blood lives in me which pulsates in every vein and reminds me to “love people no matter what, Tremaine. God ate with prostitutes and thieves. You will never be fit to judge anyone, so don’t you dare.” She, the daughter of an Evangelist, but who rebelled in every way possible including conceiving while in her teens and while unmarried, taught me the most important lesson in life: “You were made to love all God’s children, not just a select few. But, all.” And under her roof, that was the core. You better had adhered to it.
So, why now, at thirty-eight, am I still not completely, utterly, and totally out of the closet? I think of the backlash. Of how I will be treated by family, friends, and anyone I have connected with over the years, but what worries me most is how my father and his family will accept the news. I have played the scene out over and over and over again. And it all comes crashing down in front of me, leaving me dusty and despondent.
The reel is not new, the film crumples up and gets twisted and the movie has to be placed on pause. “You do not have to say a thing until you are good and ready and when you are, if anyone treats you differently after knowing, they did not love you in the first place, and you don’t need them, Tre.” ©The Powerhouse
I know who I am. I know whose I am. But that does not obliterate the fear.
I am now employed by an organization that is big on diversity and inclusion. I have attended a church for the last three years that truly means, “Come as you are" when they deliver this message. I stand freely in the pews, losing myself in worship, crying because a part of me feels trapped. On Sundays, I feel the pain more and I know, at this stage, that God did not and cannot make mistakes.
I am loved. I can say that now without a flinch in my body. I am loved because of what people know, because of what they see and hear, however, how will this love change when who they know is not who they thought they knew? I never thought I would be a part-time anything, let alone, a part-time ME. I have cried enough tears to know that the well in my body is drying up. Freeing myself is another goal I aim to accomplish.
“You were made to love all God’s children, not just a select few. But, all.”
I am bisexual. I knew this when my heart swelled up dreaming about that same little girl, thinking one day — she’d walk me home. I knew this long before I knew that I could triple jump, backflip, climb trees, build mud castles, etc. In the coming days, whatever strength I can muster up will probably be dedicated to removing a cloak. One that I hope I will never have to don again. But, I am afraid, however, that cannot always be my excuse. At some point, fear will have to step aside and I will have to step out.
Today, I began by telling my mother, “Mom, I have a lot on my heart, stuff that I’d like to share with you one day soon.” And knowing my mom, knowing her heart and how much we’ve been through and how long it took us to get to this point in life where our bond is unbreakable, I knew she’d say something to make me feel a bit lighter. She did. “Whatever it is baby, you’re carrying it well. When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen.” And that is what I needed to hear. I will never know my father’s reaction if I do not tell him — biting the bullet on that one will be harder, but I have a good feeling that I will not have to do it alone.
“Sweet, beautiful, soul-saving joy.”
Gospel — feels like home when you need one.
©Tremaine L. Loadholt, 2018. All Rights Reserved